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Celebrating the Negative : Arnold Newman by John Loengard


“When you handle something as valuable as this, you should wear gloves,” says Arnold Newman, referring to his negative taken on assignment for Harper’s Bazaar magazine in 1946.

“Stravinsky was visiting New York, and I didn’t want to photograph him in a hotel room. An editor at the magazine had an apartment with a piano. I went up and looked. It was perfect. I had to put in a 1,000-watt lamp on the left, but that was it.

“I had this idea: the top of an open piano looks like a half note. Its shape is strong. It’s linear. It’s quite beautiful. It looks the way Stravinsky’s music sounds.

“I was 98% sure I knew how the final picture would look. I knew I’d cut off most of the top and bottom of the negative in the print, but I wasn’t certain about including Stravinsky’s right hand. That’s why I had him put it where it is. In the end, I cut it out too.”

A shortage of space in the issue (all the editors told Newman was, “It will not look good small.”) led Bazaar to reject the photograph, returning it to the photographer to sell elsewhere, which he has done. It is his most often reproduced photograph.

“John Loengard, Celebrating the Negative is available to museums as a touring exhibition from Curatorial Assistance.

Celebrating the Negative
by John Loengard
Release in 1994
Published by Arcade Publishing

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