Eve Arnold, a Photographer of Bold and Illuminating Images, Dies at 99
By Douglas Martin
Eve Arnold, who fell in love with photography after a boyfriend gave her a camera and who came to be regarded as a grande dame of postwar photojournalism for her bold, revealing images of subjects as diverse as Marilyn Monroe and migratory potato pickers, died on Wednesday in London. She was 99.
American-born, Ms. Arnold had lived in Britain since 1961.
Her death was announced by Magnum Photos, the photography cooperative to which she belonged for more than a half-century. She was among the first women it hired to make pictures.
Ms. Arnold was a leading light in what is considered the golden age of news photography, when magazines like Life and Look commanded attention with big, arresting pictures supplied by adventurous photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Gordon Parks, Robert Capa and Margaret Bourke-White.
Acclaimed for capturing celebrities in intimate moments after winning their trust, Ms. Arnold developed a particular rapport with Marilyn Monroe, the subject of a book of Arnold photographs. One image showed Monroe emerging from the black of a nightclub into the white glare of a spotlight with a smiling Arthur Miller, her husband at the time. Another showed her in a pensive moment while on location in the vast Western setting for the 1961 film “The Misfits.”
Foreshadowing the celebrity portfolios of photographers like Annie Leibovitz, Ms. Arnold captured Joan Crawford squirming into a girdle and James Cagney and his wife doing an impromptu dance in a barn.
But other pictures, just as memorable, were of the unfamous. Among the more than 750,000 Ms. Arnold made was one taken in 1963 showing an English curate mowing a lawn, his robes tied up to keep them clear of the blades. She took pictures in a South African shantytown, a Havana brothel and a Moscow psychiatric hospital. She documented a Long Island hamlet, Miller Place, and the first minutes of a baby’s life. She was an official photographer on 40 movie sets.
After waiting 10 years for a visa, she visited China twice in 1979. Traveling 40,000 miles, she photographed Communist officials, Mongolian horsemen and oil drillers. The trip was chronicled in an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum and a book, one of dozens she wrote and photographed.
In 1985, Mary Blume of The International Herald Tribune wrote, “In a distinguished career, Eve Arnold has photographed Everyone with a capital ‘E’ and also everyone.”
Eve Cohen was born in Philadelphia on April 21, 1912, one of nine children of immigrants from Ukraine. Her father was a rabbi. At 28, she abandoned ambitions of becoming a doctor to move to New York. “That’s where the boys are,” she told The New York Times in 2002.
She did find a boyfriend, and he gave her a camera, insisting she learn how to use it. It was a $40 Rolleicord, the cheaper version of the Rolleiflex. Her first picture was of a bum on the New York waterfront. The boyfriend was gone in a couple of years.
Ms. Cohen got a job in a photofinishing plant, where she rose to manager. In 1948 she married Arnold Arnold, an industrial designer; later that year she gave birth to a son, Frank, who survives her.
Enrolling at the New School, she studied photography under Alexey Brodovitch, the renowned art director for Harper’s Bazaar magazine. One day he assigned his students to photograph a fashion story, and Ms. Arnold decided on an unconventional approach. She found it when she learned from her babysitter that fashion shows were held in Harlem — in churches, bars and other places there. Mr. Brodovitch liked her pictures so much that he suggested she return to Harlem to create a portfolio. The British journal Picture Post bought her Harlem work.
In 1961 Ms. Arnold and her family moved to England, where she lived the rest of her life. Her marriage ended in divorce. In addition to her son, she is survived by three grandchildren.
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