Eve Arnold at Newlands House Gallery

Words by
Melanie Rickey

18th July 2023

As a new retrospective of Eve Arnold at Newlands House Gallery opens, SPHERE explores her incredible archive, featuring the icons of the century, unmasked.

Marilyn Monroe reclines on a sofa, shoes off, laughing at a joke being told off-camera. Marlene Dietrich pulls a funny face in the recording studio. Today, we are practically drowning in off-the-cuff, ‘private’ moments shared by global superstars, but as Eve Arnold at Newlands House Gallery demonstrates, she was doing this in the 1950s.

While these image feel oh-so-familiar, they were in fact, utterly groundbreaking in their time. Not just for their unrivalled access to the person, but for their removal of the veil between superstar and viewer. It is these, and dozens more equally pioneering, raw images exploring themes of social injustice, civil rights, religion, power, fame, sexuality and birth which form the retrospective at Newland House Gallery. 

Eve Arnold at Newlands House Gallery

Eve Arnold at Newlands House Gallery
Marlene Dietrich at the recording studios of Columbia Records, New York, 1952

Over 90 of Arnold's black-and-white and colour photographs are on show, including her career-defining documentary of the fashion shows held in Harlem in the 1950s. Rarely seen photos from this body of work will be exhibited for the first time in 70 years.

Eve Arnold at Newlands House Gallery
1950s fashion in Harlem. Model Charlotte ‘Fabulous’ Stribling waits backstage in the Abyssinian Church for her entrance cue, New York City, USA, 1950

Born in Philadelphia in 1912, Arnold became one of the most revered photojournalists and was entrusted as the go-to portraitist for some of the world’s most famous figures, including Marlene Dietrich, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth II.

Eve Arnold at Newlands House Gallery
Two girls make up in the ladies room before an integration dinner party during the civil rights strike in America. Virginia, USA, 1958

Headhunted by Magnum in 1951, Arnold became Marilyn Monroe’s photographer of choice for over a decade. She photographed Monroe extensively on the set of The Misfits as well as in more mundane, everyday settings chosen by Arnold herself.

Eve Arnold at Newlands House Gallery
Marilyn Monroe, Bement, Illinois, USA, 1955

While some of her most-known portraits are those of famous figures, Arnold played a pivotal role in bringing undocumented subjects to the public eye. She captured the civil rights movement in America during the 1960s, including the Nation of Islam (NOI) rallies and meetings led by Malcom X, the American Muslim minister, human rights activist and vocal advocate for Black empowerment.

But, above all, she was drawn to women and children and continued to focus on these subjects throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, from Cuba to South Africa and the UAE, and these image make this show a powerful one, make sure you visit. 

Eve Arnold at Newlands House Gallery
A model in Harlem, New York, 1968

To Know About Women: The Photography of Eve Arnold is at Newlands House Gallery, Petworth, West Sussex, until January 7 2024; newlandshouse.gallery