Here is Eve Arnold: the distillation, in words and pictures, of her life and her lifework. Her story challenges many of our casually held notions about photography, photographers, and the careers of women in the second half of our century, and presents us with a set of happy contradictions.
Eve Arnold managed to become and remain one of the world's leading photographers without ever succumbing to trendiness or self-aggrandizement; she rapidly reached an extraordinary level of professionalism and achievement with almost no formal training; she succeeded as an American in England and as a woman in a (mostly) man's world; she grounded herself emotionally as a mother and grandmother while working nonstop around the world; she proved herself a master of black-and-white and color; she became both an ardent social critic of McCarthyism, apartheid, poverty, and a mirror of glamour and highlife, photographing Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford, presidents, prime ministers, royals; and moreover, she has faced us - and herself - with our own country in all its complex and disturbing particularities, as well as taking us on searching and exotic explorations of Afghanistan, China, Russia and the Arab Emirates.
Despite her modesty and lack of experience, Eve Arnold's talent and potential were quickly noticed. In the only photography class she ever took - she was an absolute beginner - the legendary art director Alexei Brodovitch singled her out for praise and encouragement. Soon she was the first American woman to be accepted by Magnum Photos, the prestigious international cooperative of photographers; she became a star photographer for both Life magazine in its period of splendor and the Sunday Times Colour Magazine (London) when it was a fresh, innovative, and admired playground for writers and photographers.
Arnold's previous books have focused on single subjects: the fifties, Marilyn Monroe, China, Great Britain, women. "Eve Arnold: In Retrospect" brilliantly encompasses the entire range of her experience in its narrative, illuminating a life devoted to hard work, exemplary professional and personal conduct, and a consuming curiosity about the world joined with a passion to portray it, while the nearly one hundred photographs to reflect those same qualities through an almost unbelievable variety of subjects and styles. In a final welcome contradiction, the photographer Eve Arnold has become a writer of quiet authority and distinction, conveying her life of adventure and her qualities of mind and character in a way that leaves us fully persuaded and deeply admiring.
Size: 11.2 x 9.3"
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (New York, 1997)