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Arnold Newman’s Survey at the AGO Tells A Story of Shaping Visual Culture

Arnold Newman, Art Gallery of Ontario

The acclaimed photography exhibition comes to a close this Sunday, January 21

By Joseph Cicerone

There are two weeks left to catch Toronto’s leading collection of Arnold Newman photographs at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Drawn from the AGO‘s extensive holdings and spanning six decades of work, Building Icons: Arnold Newman’s Magazine World, 1938-2000 presents the life and creative career of the acclaimed American photographer. With a unique focus on how magazine commissions fueled his work, the exhibit also considers the role media played to inspire, educate, and fuel Newman’s ambition. Much of the photographer’s stylistic integrity pulls inspiration from the creatives he profiled as well, from elements of brutalism reflecting the work of monumental architect Louis Kahn to pop culture grandeur emulating the essence of artist Andy Warhol.

Architect Louis Kahn
Arnold Newman. Louis Kahn, 1964. Gelatin silver print. Art Gallery of Ontario. © Arnold Newman Properties/Getty Images (2023).

“To see the breadth of Newman’s accomplishments – creative, technical, commercial – is also to see the role of the popular press in the latter half of the 20th century in shaping visual culture. To understand his portraits – beyond the pantheon of personalities –, we must look at the entire breadth of his work, including his abstract compositions, his reportage, his research and his formal strategies. Visitors to the exhibition will be surprised by his range,” says Sophie Hackett, AGO curator of Photography. 

AGO PHotography
Arnold Newman. Red Brick, New York, 1948. Chromogenic print. Art Gallery of Ontario. © Arnold Newman Properties/Getty Images (2023).

Visitors will have the chance to engage with Newman’s early works, thematic explorations, and pivotal moments like the groundbreaking solo exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1945. You’ll recognize influential figures like Georgia O’Keeffe and John F. Kennedy, along with iconic buildings and structures defining North American industrialism. This exhibit is a rare journey into the multifaceted world of a visionary portraitist, offering a unique glimpse into the art of designing timeless images. AGO.CA

Categories: Arts & Culture

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