There's a famous photograph of Picasso in his 70s that probably would make you think "genius" and "visionary" even if you had no idea he was a great artist. One hand pushes up against his forehead, carving a few extra wrinkles and hooding one eye; the other eye stares out with implacable intensity. This is the work of Arnold Newman, one of the great contemporary American portrait photographers, whose images--frequently made on assignment in Europe--appeared in Harper's Bazaar, Fortune, Life, Look, and other major magazines. Trained as a painter, he believes (as he writes in a short, passionate essay prefacing his selection of 60 years of his work) that "we do not take pictures with our cameras, but with our hearts and minds." He has always been fascinated by the kind of people--scientists, musicians, actors, politicians, writers, and artists--with whom he could have "long conversations until late at night."
Arnold Newman, probably the most extensive of the many samplings of the photographer's work, amply displays his vaunted skill at portraying mostly well-known sitters in their native habitats, whether these happen to be lonely-looking palaces (Haile Selassie, Generalissimo Franco), book-lined offices (Golda Meier, Stephen Jay Gould), a shabby road veiled in darkness (Shelagh Delaney), a bed (Woody Allen, scribbling on a legal pad), or mysterious precincts that capture the willful individuality of artists and architects. With 240 black-and-white and color plates, this beautifully produced book (marred only by the awkward way the elegant black silhouette of a grand piano lid in the Igor Stravinsky portrait bleeds across two pages) accompanies an exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (March 18-May 21, 2000). --Cathy Curtis