It was my distinct pleasure to have known Arnold for over twenty-five years and to have called him my friend. I first met him when my predecessor, Ira Licht, organized a retrospective of his work at the Lowe. Shortly thereafter he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Miami, which he had attended for two years as an undergraduate. I remember him telling me that he hadn't even graduated from UM and yet now he was a "Doctor."
Over the course of the next two and a half decades, we spoke frequently and my annual visits to New York were greatly enhanced by the opportunity to visit Arnold and his wife, Gus. I visited his favorite restaurant and deli and had endless and delightful conversations with him about the people he had photographed and come to know through his photographic sessions.
His stories were always amusing and deeply moving. Like a collector, who remembers the one that got away, Arnold regretted not being able to have photographed all his notable contemporaries, like Mark Rothko. The inventor of the environmental photograph, Arnold, rather than taking a studio photograph, placed his subject in their personal surroundings. The classic photograph of Alfred Krupp, on the cover of this newsletter, was one of his favorites. For Arnold it captured the power and evil of a man, whose industrial empire worked with the Nazi regime during World War II. As Arnold put it, it was a small but very satisfying victory. It nonetheless infuriated the sitter.
Arnold was always generous both with his time and his talent. At the time we hosted an exhibition of the works of Louise Nevelson, I contacted Arnold and asked if he would be willing to donate one of his photographs to the exhibition. He told me he had three different sittings and asked which one did I want. I asked him to make the selection. The piece he chose was a photograph of Louise Nevelson after her first one-person exhibition at the Whitney in New York. It is a stunning photograph, which beautifully captures the spirit of the artist and her work. When he visited the Lowe to see the exhibition, he regaled me with a wonderful story about Louise Nevelson. I cannot help but think that in Arnold's passing, we have not only lost a great American photographer, but also a powerful memory of a vanishing era.
Brian A. Dursum
Director, Lowe Art Museum