A huge cache of work by master photographer Arnold Newman, known as the father of environmental portraiture, has been donated to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
Newman, who died June 6 at the age of 88, left the center an archive that stretches from the 1930s to the 21st century and includes negatives, slides, color transparencies, original contact sheets, and more than 2,000 prints. The center will also house Newman’s sittings books, correspondence and business files, early sketchbooks, photo albums, and some of his many awards.
After getting his start snapping 49-cent portraits at a studio in Philadelphia, Newman became a freelance photographer for magazines like Look, LIFE, Fortune, and The New Yorker, eventually photographing the top artists, writers, and thinkers of the 20th century.
Using his subjects’ own environments and objects to add layers of meaning to his photos, Newman created famous environmental portraits such as Pablo Picasso in his studio in France, composer Igor Stravinsky at his piano, poet Langston Hughes with Harlem stretched out behind him, and writer Truman Capote relaxing on his sofa.
“With this acquisition we add to our collections not only the works and papers of a renowned photographer, but also important, revealing images of many of the 20th century’s most celebrated figures in culture, science, and politics,” Thomas F. Staley, director of the Ransom center, stated in a news release.
A new Arnold Newman Fellowship in Photography will also be created to support scholarly research in the Ransom Center’s photography collection, which houses more than five million prints and negatives that span from the “first photograph” in 1826 to those by contemporary masters such as Alvin Langdon Coburn, E.O. Goldbeck, Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Sir Cecil Beaton, Raymond Moore, Fritz Henle, Ruth Robertson, Eliot Elisofon, and David Douglas Duncan.