Eve Arnold

Eve Arnold, a celebrated fashion photographer, is perhaps best known for her portraits of a nude Marilyn Monroe. Arnold should also be celebrated for the strikingly contemporary portfolio of work she produced in 1950 – the Harlem series.

The photos of Black fashion shows caused a sensation. They led to an invitation for Arnold to join Magnum Photos, the prestigious photographer’s agency and a 60-year international career, including as a Sunday Times photographer from the early 1960s to the 1980s.

Arnold photographed Black models in Harlem who often made the clothes themselves and put on shows in hired venues for paying black audiences. It was a whole developed, professional scene. And Arnold floated into this world: present, but invisible.”

The Harlem series was a nuanced study of style, elegance and self-reliance, captured just before the US civil rights movement. The photographs of models, often mid-change, and the crews of agents, dressers, make-up artists and security guards that surrounded them, exude energy and action. In the early 1950s.

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