All about women: Eve Arnold's female portraits on display in Abano Terme, Italy

From May 17 to Dec. 8, 2019, the Villa Bassi House-Museum in Abano Terme hosts the exhibition 'All About Women' dedicated to photographer Eve Arnold.

The Villa Bassi House-Museum in Abano Terme, Italy, dedicates an extensive retrospective entirely to Eve Arnold (Philadelphia, 1912 - London, 2012) and her famous and original female portraits. Entitled All About Women and curated by Marco Minuz, it is the first Italian retrospective on the subject dedicated to the great American photographer.

Eve Arnold, born Cohen, the daughter of a rabbi who emigrated from Russia to America, contends with Inge Morath for the record as the first woman photographer to join the famous Magnum agency. Indeed, they were the two first female photographers to be fully admitted to the Paris agency founded by Robert Capa in 1947. An agency before them reserved for only great male photographers such as Henri Cartier Bresson or Werner Bischof. And it is a fortunate coincidence that the two first women of Magnum are the protagonists of as many parallel retrospectives in Italy both promoted by initiative of Suazes: the Morath in Treviso, in Casa dei Carraresi, and now the Arnold in Abano Terme in this exhibition.

It was Henri Cartier-Bresson, impressed by the photographer’s New York shots, who called Eve Arnold to Magnum in 1951. They were images of parades in the African American neighborhood of Harlem, New York. Those same images rejected in America for being too “scandalous,” were published by the British magazine Picture Post. In 1952, along with her family, Eve Arnold moved to Long Island, where she produced one of the most moving reportages of her career, A baby’s first five minutes, chronicling the first five minutes of life of babies born at Mother Hospital in Port Jefferson. In 1956 she traveled with a psychologist friend to Haiti to document the secrets of Woodoo practices.

Called in to replace photographer Ernst Haas for a report on Marlene Dietrich, she began associating with Hollywood celebrities and the American star system. Her meeting with Marilyn Monroe dates back to 1950, the beginning of a deep association that was interrupted only by the actress’s death. For her lens Joan Crawford revealed the secrets of her magical beauty. In 1960 she documented the filming of the famous movie TheMisfits with Marylin Monroe and Clark Gable, withJohn Houston directing and Marylin’s then-husband Arthur Miller writing the screenplay. Moving to London in 1962, Eve Arnold continued to work with and for movie stars, but she also devoted herself to travel reporting: to many countries in the Middle and Far East including Afghanistan, China and Mongolia. Between 1969 and 1971 he made the project Behind the Veil, which also became a documentary, a testimony to the condition of women in the Middle East.

“Paradoxically, I think the photographer has to be an amateur at heart, someone who loves the craft. He must have a healthy constitution, a strong stomach, a distinct will, quick reflexes and a sense of adventure. And be willing to take risks.” This is how Eve Arnold defines the figure of the photographer. Although her work bears witness to a struggle to break out of the limiting definition of “woman photographer,” her fortune was precisely that ability to make herself an interpreter of femininity, as a “woman among women.”

Pictured: Eve Arnold, Marlene Dietrich at Columbia records studios, New York, USA (1952), Ph. Eve Arnold/MagnumPhotos

Source: release

All about women: Eve Arnold's female portraits on display in Abano Terme, Italy
All about women: Eve Arnold's female portraits on display in Abano Terme, Italy

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