Tuesday Techniques: Arnold Newman’s Exhibition

As I mentioned in the previous post, I wanted to further highlight the Arnold Newman: Masterclass exhibition that was presented at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. As a portrait photographer, he utilized various techniques to capture the talents of many professionals. Throughout the exhibition, his portraits are set up in different categories. Those being photographed, or “sitters”, are placed in certain ways to really capture who they were, are and how they are remembered.


For another “Tuesday Techniques”, here are the strategies used by Arnold Newman:

Sensibilities: Sitters are portrayed with a hint of doubt. They are vulnerable and a tad fragile looking.

Geometries: Contrasting blocks of shapes and shades.


Lumen: Newman played with the idea of natural versus artificial light.


Weavings: These are double-exposures and prints. They are meant to be spontaneous. Sometimes the photos are torn, leaving jagged edges to remind the audience that even a photograph can “break the rules” too.


Signatures: Sitters are posing to explicitly show their talents.


Searches: Newman intended on being a painter, but found that photography suited him best. Using “still lifes” he attempts to combine the two methods.


Fronts: Powerful and active business professionals. Being constantly preoccupied, these hardworking men and women didn’t want to put too much focus into a photo shoot. Sometimes Newman would pretend to start packing up his things to spark their attention to him. They knew that this could be an opportunity for them to appear in something such as Life Magazine, so many of them would pose or make a certain expression to show their hierarchic power. Newman would try to counteract this by fiddling around or by making conversation to get them to relax. Tricky.


Rhythmically: Newman didn’t want to photograph people statically. To add an artistic flair, he attempted to pull the eye to a certain direction. For example, he would have the sitter lean one way or another.


Habitat: He never liked working in his own studio. He thought that one could gain real personality and character of a sitter by visiting and photographing in their studios. Not having full control over the environment, he saw this as a spontaneous approach that was a bit harder and riskier.


It’s neat to see how and where these artists found inspiration. I also hadn’t realized all the different ways to capture a moment in one’s lifetime. Thank you Arnold Newman and the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

SF Museum Outing

Exploring the city and finding things to do can be pretty costly, however almost anywhere has hidden steals and deals. As the new year arrived, I have been seeking affordable activities outside of the apartment. It’s always nice to get a little fresh air and enjoy the surroundings. With a little research, there are actually quite a few places to visit in the area, even on a budget.

Monday, I was fortunate enough to discover that on the first Tuesday of each month, many museums offer free admission. This webpage shows a list of local museums and when they have free entry days. I chose three that were within a few blocks of one another on Mission Street. After lunch at home, it was a quick Bart to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Cartoon Art Museum, and the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Most of the exhibitions allowed photography, so here are some I have to share.


Yerba Buena Center for the Arts presented two exhibitions. Landscape: the virtual, the acutal, the possible? highlights the curiosity of human activities creating a new landscape with a combination of nature and technology. Artists focused on two different environments, California (having diverse natural elements and the Silicon Valley) and Pearl River Delta region in China (having land struggles and being a major global electronics producer).


Paul Kos, The Sound of Melting Ice, 1970

Yes, those are two 25 pound blocks of ice being recorded by eight microphones.


Lois Weinberger, Field Work, 2010

The second exhibition, Alien She, had influences from the 1990’s punk feminist movement, Riot Grrrl.


   Next I traveled to the Cartoon Art Museum.

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I enjoyed the amount of detail placed into each drawing and the satire that many contained. It was also interesting to see the differences and similarities cartooning has across the decades. Almost felt like being in a fancy comic book store. Definitely a fun environment.

Lastly, I meandered over to the Contemporary Jewish Museum. This might have been my favorite of the day, since it presented a wide variety and great historical stories.


The large blue square to the left of the picture is the “Yud Gallery”. It is named from a letter in the Hebrew alphabet (as well as other languages) in which has a /j/ sound, such as Jerusalem. This portion of the building mainly houses sound installations and performances. While I visited, it housed a lovely tribute to Warren Hellman.


Among his many achievements, he is better known for his creation of Hardly Strictly. I have yet to attend the festival in the city, however it’s pretty neat to know how it all started. Warren Hellman basically wanted to play music with his buddies and put on a free show for the fans. Photography was not permitted in this exhibition, but it included his jacket, signed banjo, and plastic lawn chairs in front of a screening of the him playing with other artists. Great presentation.


This next exhibition comes from a children’s story by J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh. The scene was adorable. As if I just jumped into the books. The picture above on the left, is from Mr. Lunch Borrows a Canoe. On the right, Mr. Lunch Takes a Plane Ride. “Mr. Lunch” is a little dog who is apparently very good at chasing birds. J. Otto Seibold created the illustrations through careful computer animation.


The final exhibition I journeyed through was entitled, Arnold Newman: Masterclass. I was very intrigued by his styles of photography, that I have decided to write a whole new post for it. Overall, this gallery included photographs of various artists of the 20th century. Painters, sculptors, photographers, architects, dancers, statesmen, actors and actresses. In black and white photos, he brought each “sitter” to life.

As the sun began to set, my museum adventure came to an end. I haven’t been to many recently, so it proved to be quite a nice outing. There are still plenty more that I want to check out too. Perhaps next month. It’s always interesting to see something new and put yourself into someone else’s shoes.