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Photographer Arnold Newman Dies at 88


Photographer Arnold Newman, who pioneered what came to be known as the environmental portrait, with evocative settings and lighting, died yesterday. He photographed some of the most famous and interesting people in the world: Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, Isaac Asimov, Picasso, world leaders, and presidents from Kennedy to Clinton.

Perhaps his best-known photograph is a portrait of composer Igor Stravinsky. I asked Arnold Newman about this portrait in May of 2000.

Mr. ARNOLD NEWMAN (Photographer): I wanted to do one picture that said everything I could about Stravinsky. That's what I try to say with all these pictures. But with Stravinsky, what could I do? And I remember the beautiful shape of the piano, and I wanted to combine this shape because it reminded me of his music. It is linear, it is the beautiful shape, and it looks like a B flat, but it's also strong and harsh. It's very, very beautiful.

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MONTAGNE: In an Arnold Newman portrait, the subject often shared the attention with material objects that were unexpected or seemed out of place at first glance. In fact, everything was carefully orchestrated so that the sitter would be immersed in objects symbolic of his or her life. The style was called environmental portraiture, and seemed to let the camera document a bit of the subject's soul.

Arnold Newman died of a heart attack in New York. He was 88.

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MONTAGNE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.