Eve Arnold, one of the first female photojournalists to join the prestigious Magnum Photography Agency in the 1950s and who traveled the world for her work but was best known for candid shots of Hollywood celebrities, died Jan. 4 in London. She was 99.
Magnum announced the death but did not disclose the cause.
Starting in 1951, Mrs. Arnold navigated distant countries and cultures, photographing horse trainers in Mongolia, factory workers in China and harem women in Dubai. Her photo essays appeared in news magazines and in the many books she compiled.
She began working for Magnum on a freelance basis in 1951 and became a full member of the group a few years later. The agency’s founders included Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa, considered the greatest reportage photographers of the time.
Mrs. Arnold made Hollywood a specialty starting in the mid-1950s. Some of her best-known images are candid shots of Marilyn Monroe.
On the set of 1961’s “The Misfits,” Mrs. Arnold captured the tension between Monroe and playwright Arthur Miller, her husband at the time and the film’s screenwriter. One photograph shows them on a veranda, looking as if they have just cut short an argument. Others show glimpses of Monroe’s legendary insecurity. In one photograph, she sits at a table with a script in front of her, hands covering her eyes.
Mrs. Arnold published several books on Monroe and exhibited and sold the images repeatedly for decades.
Her photographs of Joan Crawford show the actress in her 50s, near the end of her reign as Hollywood royalty. None is flattering. There are close-ups of Crawford applying makeup to her wrinkled eyelids and evaluating her aged face in a hand mirror.
“The first time I met Joan Crawford she took off all her clothes, stood in front of me nude and insisted I photograph her,” Mrs. Arnold wrote in her 2002 book “Eve Arnold: Film Journal.” They met in a dressing room when Mrs. Arnold was on assignment for Women’s Home Companion magazine.
“Sadly,” she wrote of Crawford, “something happens to flesh after 50.” After the photo session, Crawford demanded that Mrs. Arnold give her the film of the nudes, and Mrs. Arnold agreed.
One of her most challenging assignments was a photo essay about the Nation of Islam and its leader, Malcolm X, in the early 1960s. In an essay accompanying the photographs, published in Life magazine in 1962, Mrs. Arnold wrote that she was spat on at one rally, and after another, she found the back of her sweater covered with burn holes from cigarette butts.
She did her best to avoid “women’s pages” assignments but still had to photograph her share of women and children. Whenever possible, she worked from a global perspective.
In Zululand, South Africa, in 1973, Mrs. Arnold photographed expectant mothers waiting in line to see a doctor. Each woman is beautifully poised and appears to be lost in a daydream.
On a trip through China in 1979, Mrs. Arnold took pictures of toddlers in the nursery at a cotton mill, sitting together on a long bench, plump and pink cheeked. They are included in Mrs. Arnold’s 1980 book “In China,” which won the National Book Award.
She was born Eve Cohen to Russian immigrant parents in Philadelphia in 1912 and went to work at a young age after receiving a basic education.
“I came to photography by accident,” Mrs. Arnold wrote in her 1995 book “In Retrospect.” A friend gave her a Rolleicord portable box camera. That got her interested in taking pictures.
In one of her first jobs, she worked at a photo-finishing plant in New Jersey where she learned the technical side of her craft. The artistry came to her during a six-week course at the New School for Social Research in New York in 1948. Her instructor was Alexey Brodovitch, the art director for Harper’s Bazaar magazine. He taught his students the basics about composition and style.
For one class assignment, Mrs. Arnold followed the action backstage at a fashion show in Harlem. A British magazine, Picture Post, published the photographs, Mrs. Arnold’s debut in print.
From there she built a portfolio of freelance work and parlayed it into her first assignment from Magnum. She later complained that she was given second-rate assignments at Magnum. Her admirers argue that she did very well.
Her marriage to Arnold Arnold ended in divorce. Survivors include a son, Francis; and three grandchildren.
In 1961, Mrs. Arnold became a contract photographer for the London Sunday Times’ Colour Magazine. One of her best-known stories for Colour offered a rare look inside harems in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates in the early 1970s. The photo essay led her to a television documentary, “Behind the Veil,” for the BBC.
She had her first major solo exhibit in 1980 at the Brooklyn Museum. Others followed at the National Portrait Gallery and elsewhere.