Beaumont Newhall

From Monoskop
Jump to navigation Jump to search
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.


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].


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; 3rd ed. rev., 1975, PDF, IA, 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.