CAMERA proposes another legend of 20th-century photography: Eve Arnold, the American photographer who knew how to recount the world with a ‘passionate personal approach’: the only tool she considered indispensable for a photographer. To understand her importance in the history of photography, suffice to recall that, together with Inge Morath, Eve Arnold was the first woman to join the prestigious Magnum Photos agency in 1951.
Determination, curiosity and above all the desire to avoid any stereotyping or pigeonholing enabled her to produce an eclectic body of work: from portraits of the great stars of the silver screen and show business to investigative reportages in which she tackled themes and issues absolutely central to the public debate both of yesterday and today.
The exhibition, curated by Monica Poggi and staged in collaboration with Magnum Photos, consists of around 170 images, many of which have never been exhibited before, and covers the photographer’s complete oeuvre from her early black-and-white shots of New York in the 1950s to her last colour works, taken at the age of 85, towards the end of the century. The works selected deal with themes and issues such as racism in the United States, women’s emancipation and the interaction between different cultures around the globe. Her worldwide fame is also undoubtedly linked to her numerous shoots on the sets of unforgettable films, where she portrayed the great stars of the day, from Marlene Dietrich to Marilyn Monroe, and from Joan Crawford to Orson Welles.
Arnold’s career is to all intents and purposes a hymn to female emancipation. Her subjects are in most cases women – be they workers, mothers, children, divas, nuns, models or students, captured without ever falling foul of stereotypes or facile categorisations, with the sole intention of knowing, understanding and recounting. The choice and arrangement of the images in the exhibition is designed to restore the richness of the artist’s work, which is also emphasised through numerous archive documents, texts, press proofs, books and magazines that enrich the discovery of a true legend of photography.