Arnold, Eve (1913—)

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Arnold, Eve (1913—)

American photojournalist and first woman to join Magnum Photos Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1913; daughter of Russian immigrant parents (Arnold's maiden name unknown); studied medicine before switching to photography classes at New School for Social Research, 1947; studied under Alexey Brodovitch.

While studying to be a doctor, Eve Arnold received her first camera and began pursuing photography at the New School for Social Research in New York. Training with Alexey Brodovitch, then art director for Harper's Bazaar, Arnold's early work—mostly class assignments shot at Harlem fashion shows—was accomplished enough to be published in London's Picture Post.

During the 1950s, Arnold became the first woman to photograph for Magnum Photos, an international cooperative of photographers. Joining them in 1951, she became an associate member in 1955, a full member in 1957. Much of her work focused on stories about women, including the poor, elderly, and African-Americans, as well as some celebrities.

In 1961, Arnold moved to London, working mainly for the Sunday Times but also frequently contributing to Life magazine and other periodicals in the United States and abroad. She took to the road in 1965, making the first of five trips to the then Soviet Union. Her intermittent travels in Afghanistan and Egypt from 1967 to 1971 resulted in the film Behind the Veil, which disclosed daily life in a harem. During the '70s, several collections of Arnold's photographs were published, including The Unretouched Woman and Flashback! The '50s (1978).

A stunning and revealing book, In China (1980) was the culmination of two extended trips to China in 1979. After years of unsuccessful attempts to obtain an extended visa, she was finally given free access to travel across and photograph some 40,000 miles of the mainland. Her goal was to present the country as never seen before: "I wanted to make a book about the lives of the people, a book that would go beyond the ubiquitous blue suits and bicycles we had been seeing pictures of for so many years. I wanted to penetrate to their humanity, to get a sense of the sustaining character beneath the surface. I wanted to see as many particulars of China as possible." Traveling with only an interpreter, Arnold photographed everything from a Shanghai millionaire to Tibetan women digging roads to a six-year-old girl enduring the endless process of a permanent wave. In 170 color photographs, Arnold not only provided a never-before-seen glimpse of China but also an extraordinary work of art. Widely acclaimed, In China won the National Book Award. For three years, the photographs were also shown in a traveling exhibition, which had originated at the Brooklyn Museum in 1980.

Three years later, In America, a book of a similar nature about her own country, was published. Returning from England with the "fresh outlook of a visitor," she had traveled America for two years, through 36 states, capturing a wealth of images that reflect the diversity of U.S. life. The collection, at once both expansive and intimate, explores "the geographical face of America—a kaleidoscope of landscapes so various it is hard to believe they are all aspects of one nation—and a vast array of American faces: striking portraits of simplicity and depth."

Other notable books in the '80s were All in a Day's Work (1989) and Marilyn Monroe —An Appreciation (1987). Arnold, who through Magnum had photographed Monroe on six occasions from the early '50s, retired many of her photographs after the actress' suicide on August 5, 1962. "I didn't want to exploit the material," Arnold explained. On the 25th anniversary of Monroe's death, Arnold published the pictures as a tribute from a friend, together with a striking narrative.

Eve Arnold shared a Lifetime Achievement Award with Louise Dahl-Wolfe , presented by the American Association of Magazine Publishers in 1979. In 1991, Arnold's photographs appeared in exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. A retrospective look at her work was published in 1995.


Arnold, Eve. In America. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983.

——. In China. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980

——. "I Remember Norma Jean," in People. August 10, 1987, p. 72–76.

Rosenblum, Naomi. A History of Women Photographers. NY: Abbeville Press, 1994.

suggested reading:

Arnold, Eve. In Retrospect. NY: Knopf, 1995.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts