Eve Arnold was one of America’s best-known photojournalists. In her long and esteemed career, Arnold photographed many prominent figures including Elizabeth Taylor, Malcolm X, Joan Crawford, and Queen Elizabeth II.
Arnold’s most famous works are her photographs of Marilyn Monroe, who Arnold photographed frequently between 1952 and Monroe’s death in 1962. As well as these iconic individuals, Arnold documented many poor and oppressed communities around the world.
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Eve Arnold was born to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1912. She first took interest in photography in 1946 when she worked in a photo-finishing plant in New York City.
In 1948, Arnold learned more about photography from Alexey Brodovitch, the art director of Harper’s Bazaar. She went on to pursue photojournalism, and became the first woman to join the Magnum Picture Agency, becoming a full member in 1957, but working with the company from 1951.
Arnold was just as comfortable taking pictures of some of the most famous people of the 20th century as she was photographing everyday people around the world. "I don't see anybody as either ordinary or extraordinary," Arnold told the BBC, "I see them simply as people in front of my lens.”
Perfectly illustrating this principle is Arnold’s 1968 candid photograph of Queen Elizabeth II, in which she appears, smiling, holding her own umbrella, and looking more like a member of the public than she ever has before or since.
Eve Arnold travelled the world to document many communities, including 1950s Harlem, late 1970s China, early 1970s South Africa, and late 1960s Afghanistan. Her photos from these places depicted daily life for the residents, many of whom were facing existential struggles.
Arnold’s oeuvre also includes images of screen icons like Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Clark Gable, and of course Marilyn Monroe. Arnold and Monroe struck up a friendship, and Arnold went on to take some of the most iconic and revealing photos of the troubled movie star.
Eve Arnold’s first major solo exhibition was 1980’s In China. In 1996, her exhibition In Retrospect was on display in 16 venues around the world, including in the UK — the country Arnold called home from 1962 until her death in 2012.