Eve Arnold – Lessons from Eve!


1963: Eve Arnold on the set of Becket. Photo: Robert Penn

Janine di Giovanni
Eve Arnold: Magnum Legacy

An indomitable woman and a Magnum stalwart, London based American photographer Eve Arnold (1912-2012) was one of the first female Magnum photographers. She started off as a house-wife, turning to photography only in her mid-thirties once her son Frank was born. What Arnold lost in time, she made up in tenacity, and a body of work that makes the Magnum Legacy publication on Arnold an inspiration for all those who feel like they’ve lost out on something.

This publication is filled with many iconic images including her first photographs of the underground Harlem fashion scene. Moving on to her famous images of Marlene Dietrich and later the potato pickers of Long Island, early on you get an insight into why Robert Capa summed up Arnold’s niche as ‘falling between Marlene Deitrich’s legs and the bitter lives of migrant workers.’ She could do both with aplomb! Her images of Marilyn Monroe brought her glamour, but alongside these she worked on political projects with Malcolm X and Joseph McCarthy. In 1970 she made a film for BBC called Behind the Veil that featured never-before-seen footage of the harem of Sheikha Sana, the niece of the ruler of Dubai. After this last project, Arnold accepted that film was not for her. It didn’t allow her to wander off on her own in search of stories to tell.

1979: Horse-training for the militia, Inner Mongolia, China

Arnold managed to maintain the fine balance between doing commercial projects to finance her more journalistic stories. This book goes on to chronicle Arnold’s travels to Cuba, China and Russia with insights into how her projects and publications were planned. She had a trusted team around her and the same names crop up throughout the book, showing that Arnold maintained a lifetime of friendships. She had warmth and pluck, and she was a great entertainer, throwing parties and dinners at her Mount Street apartment. Arnold loved to cook and always took a break for lunch! Not a sandwich at your computer kind of lunch, but one where everyone gets together around a table full of food!

One of the lessons we’ve absorbed from this magnum opus is that no matter how easy it becomes to take a photograph, no matter how much more difficult it becomes to make money out of photography, there is always room for talent! That one image that shows emotion, an action, a gesture…that something that we would not have seen if the photographer hadn’t show it to us.

There is so much you can do especially when your options are limited! Arnold’s first images were taken in dimly lit nightclubs in Harlem, forcing Arnold to push the limits of her ability to develop these images in the darkroom. Arnold later went on to specialise in black and white photography, only using colour when the story really needed it.

1955: Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses by James Joyce

We are deeply impressed by Arnold’s belief that it is the photographer and not the camera that is the instrument; how she negotiated nearly every piece of text that went alongside her images so she had control over the context; how she coached younger Magnum photographers to focus on the big projects, the ones that would last them a lifetime; by her determination, her ability to move her audience with both images and words; her tenacity and desire to make more stories and books than her long life allowed her to.

This one goes on the shelf for inspiration and lessons to learn.



Today we’re inspired by the work of Numen / For Use called Tape Paris, currently installed at the Palais de Tokyo till 11 January 2015.

An immersive artwork that spans  the front entrance-way of the Palais, it only allows the viewer to experience as much as they dare to. Crawl thorough it, walk at full height, look from afar, above or below; the feeling of being inside the outside, pervades at all levels.

Tape / Paris

Tape / Paris

Tape Paris is a version of what has been several other Tape cities, and is part of the exhibition Inside, an exploration of ‘a passage to the interior of the self, for which the exhibition space serves as a metaphor.’ That’s what Palais de Tokyo say; we think it works!

All images borrowed with thanks!

André Kertész: Shadow Play

If André Kertész (1894 – 1985) had followed his family’s wishes, he would have been a stock broker his entire working life, and the world would have been bereft of his experimental and unorthodox contributions to photography.

And even when he did make a name for himself, he was often told that his photographs ‘spoke’ too much, as the editors of Life magazine told him in 1937.

But Kertész knew what he wanted to do and what he was good at, and after teaching himself photography at an early age, he went on to photograph the local Hungarian countryside, his experiences in the trenches during World War I, and later on when he moved to the U.S., his experiments with shadows and distortion mirrors.

Kertész sadly never achieved the critical acclaim and fame he desired for most of his career, and his struggles to speak English and be accepted by critics and audiences let him feeling excluded for most of his life. Kertész was also criticised for being more of a spectator than a commentator in his images, and his photographs being apolitical didn’t work in his favour during the two World Wars. However despite the absence of any strong comments or accolades from critics, Kertész is still considered to be the father of photojournalism and many years later his images still inspire with their simplicity and timelessness.

André Kertész | <i>T</i>
The Blind Violinist, Abony, Hungary, 1921


Paris, On the Quai near Saint Michel, 1926


Mondrian’s Glasses and Pipe, Paris, 1926 © Estate of André Kertész
Mondrian’s Glasses and Pipe, Paris, 1926


Andre Kertesz
Fork, Paris, 1928


Broken Plate 1929
Broken Plate, 1929


Paris, After School in the Tuileries, 1930


Clock of the Académie Française, Paris, 1932


Distortion #30, Paris, 1933


 © André Kertész
Ballet, New York City, 1938


André Kertész | <i></i>
Washington Square, New York, 1954


© André Kertész
Disappearing Act, 1955


 © André Kertész
Martinique, 1972


For more on André Kertész

Dali’s Moustache

We featured Philippe Halsman’s iconic jump images last week, but we could only let a few days go by before we brought up his series on Dali’s moustache.

Halsman and Salvador Dali were very close in that they both tried to push the boundaries of perception and imagination, as far as science and existing technology would allow. They also both escaped to the U.S. from Paris in the early 1940’s, and left the war behind to reach New York barely a few months apart from each other. Having frequented nearly the same localities in Paris, it was strange that they had never met, and sheer serendipity that they got together in New York for what is considered to be one of the most intense and ambitious collaborations between an artist and a photographer over 37 years.

Such was their relationship that Halsman has been quoted as saying – Whenever I needed a striking protagonist for one of my wild ideas, Dali would graciously oblige. Whenever Dali thought of a photograph so strange that it seemed impossible to produce, I tried to find a solution.

We are delighted to present our favourites from Dali’s Moustache, a 1954 publication of 36 different views of the artist’s moustache that Halsman captured

Along with being a remarkable portrait photographer with 101 Life magazine covers to his credit, and jump images of nearly every US celebrity of his time, we’re inspired by Halsman’s ability to hit the nail on the head when he says that ‘ a true portrait is the image which reveals most completely both the exterior and the interior of the subject. A true portrait should, today and a hundred years from today, be the testimony of how this person looked and what kind of human being he was.’

We couldn’t agree more.


The Non-Conforming Martin Parr


Martin Parr, one of our favourite photographers, never fails to capture those aspects of being British that are especially endearing.

Here are a selection of his images (some we’ve featured before) from ‘The Non-Conformists‘, a body of black and white images taken from the 1970’s when Parr moved out of London to settle down in the little mill town of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire.
That the photographer dotes on his subjects is clearly visible,
that he captures the moment you think no one is watching, is his skill,
and that he makes the pomp and scone loving British more lovable, is his art.

Mayor of Todmorden’s inaugural banquet. 1977


Halifax. Steep Lane Baptist Chapel buffet lunch. 1976


Todmorden. Jubilee Celebrations. Street Parties. 1977


Calderdale. Hebden bridge. Lord Savile has just shot a grouse. 1975-1980


Halifax. West Vale Park. Three local chapels combine to have an outdoor service. 1975


Todmorden. Mankinholes Methodist Chapel. 1975


Sowerby Bridge Mouse Show. St John’s Ambulance rooms. 1978


Crimsworth Dean Methodist Chapel. Chris is another natural rebel who finds it hard to enjoy Sunday School at the Chapel. 1975-1980


Crimsworth Dean Methodist Chapel. 1975


Some of the congregation making there way to the Crimsworth Dean Chapel Anniversary. 1975


Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou


We recently came across the haunting images of Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou at the Pangaea: New Art from Africa and Latin America exhibition which is currently on view at the Saatchi Gallery. Though all the photographers featured deserve mention when art from these regions is referenced, Agbodjelou’s images made us halt in our tracks.

One of the prominent photographers from Porto Novo in Benin, his work borrows from both the modern and the traditional, and throws light on how the world seeing Africa, leads it to see itself. Featuring dramatic masked Egungun figures, bare breasted women, and a colonial style backdrop in some of the images, Agbodjelou references both the history and the ritualism that cloud our gaze when we look at this continent. At the same time his images stand as testament to how Africa has embraced and shared those aspects of its culture that are rich and unique, while blending in with other social and cultural aspects that the globalised world favours.

Untitled triptych (Demoiselles de Porto-Novo series), 2012


Untitled triptych (Demoiselles de Porto-Novo series), 2012


Untitled (Demoiselles de Porto-Novo series), 2012


<em>Untitled (Egungun series)</em>, 2012
Untitled (Egungun series), 2012


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Untitled (Egungun series), 2012


Untitled (Vodou Series), 2011


Untitled (Vodou Series), 2011


<em>Untitled (Musclemen series)</em>, 2012
Untitled (Musclemen series), 2012


<em>Untitled (Musclemen series)</em>, 2012
Untitled (Musclemen series), 2012


Pangaea: New Art from Africa and Latin America
2 April – 2 November 2014

Saatchi Gallery