Eve Arnold was born in 1912 in Philadelphia, the child of Russian immigrants
She was the first woman to become a full member of Magnum Photos, in 1957
She is perhaps best known for portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich
Her photojournalism projects around the world won her acclaim
Eve Arnold, known for her intimate portraits of stars such as Marilyn Monroe as well as her groundbreaking photojournalism work, has died in London, at the age of 99 Magnum Photos said Thursday.
Arnold, who in 1957 was the first woman photographer to join the photo agency, became a prominent member, thanks to her talent for photographing people, whatever their background.
“Her intimate, sensitive and compassionate 10-year collaboration with Marilyn Monroe has cemented her as one of the most iconic portrait photographers of our time, but it is the long-term reportage stories that drove Arnold’s curiosity and passion,” Magnum said.
Born in 1912 to Russian immigrant parents in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Arnold grew up knowing hardship first-hand. She brought that awareness to her work documenting social injustice in the United States and elsewhere.
It was her photos of African-American fashion shows in Harlem, New York, in the early 1950s that first caught the eye of Henri Cartier-Bresson and won her entry to Magnum, at that time a highly male-dominated environment. She became a full member in 1957.
She had begun to take pictures while working at a photo-finishing plant in New Jersey in 1946 and after that studied photography with Alexei Brodovitch in New York.
Arnold moved to London in 1962 to put her son through school and remained there for the rest of her life, apart from a six-year period when she worked in the United States and China, Magnum said.
She was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003 for her services to photography.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Arnold turned her eye to the black civil rights movement in the United States, as well as traveling widely in China, Russia and elsewhere. Behind the Veil, which documented life in Arab states, including for the women inside harems, was published in 1971.
One of the first westerners to be granted a visa for China in the 1970s, her reportage work was published in the book In China in 1980.
Arnold was known for the connection, and sometimes lasting friendships, she formed with those on the other end of the lens. “If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument,” she said.
Some of her most memorable and haunting images of Marilyn Monroe were taken during filming in Nevada for the 1961 film The Misfits. Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford and Isabella Rossellini were also among the celebrities to pose for Arnold.
Arnold wrote extensively for magazines and newspapers and published 15 monographs, notably In Retrospect, published in 1995, in which she tells the story of her own life and career.
Women and the lives of those in poverty were subjects she returned to repeatedly over the decades.
In her 1976 book, “The Unretouched Woman,” Arnold wrote: “Themes recur again and again in my work. I have been poor and I wanted to document poverty; I had lost a child and I was obsessed with birth; I was interested in politics and I wanted to know how it affected our lives; I am a woman and I wanted to know about women.”