Beaumont Newhall

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Beaumont Newhall, photo by Charles R. Rushton.

Beaumont Newhall (1908–1993) was an art historian, writer, photographer and the first curator of photography at Museum of Modern Art, New York (1940-1945). His book The History of Photography (1949) remains one of the most significant accounts in the field and has become a classic photo history textbook.

Biography[edit]

Newhall studied art history and museum studies at Harvard University (1930). In 1937, he mounted a survey exhibition of photography for the Museum of Modern Art, Photography, 1839-1937. The 800-work exhibition toured the country and the catalog for the show became a staple for the history of photography. Ironically, Newhall's treatment of photography as high art rankled the museum's board of trustees, who accepted public criticism that the Museum was turning a popular medium into an avenue of snobbery. [1] In 1948, Beaumont Newhall became the first Curator of Photography at the George Eastman House, and then served as its Director from 1958 to 1971, building a significant photography collection. After his retirement, Newhall accepted a position as Visiting Professor of Art at the University of New Mexico, where he helped to establish the first doctoral program in the history of photography at an American university [2]. He died at his home in Santa Fe, from complications from a stroke, February 26, 1993 [3].

Publications[edit]

Photography 1839-1937, 1937, PDF.
  • editor, Photography 1839-1937, New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1937, ARG. Catalogue for the 1937 exhibition. [4]
  • A Short Critical History of Photography, 1940.
  • The History of Photography: From 1839 to the Present Day, New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1949, 256 pp; 5th ed., 1982.
  • with Nancy Newhall, Masters of Photography, New York: Castle Books & George Braziller, Inc., 1958; 1968, IA.
  • Frederick Evans, 1964.
  • Latent Image: The Discovery of Photography, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967.
  • Airborne Camera: The World from the Air and Outer Space, New York: Hastings House, 1969.
  • The Daguerreotype in America, New York: Dover Publications, 1961; 1976.
  • Photography, Essays & Images: Illustrated Readings in the History of Photography, New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1980.
  • In Plain Sight: The Photographs of Beaumont Newhall, 1983.
  • Focus: Memoirs of a Life in Photography, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1993.

Literature[edit]

Links[edit]