Robert Melvin "Bob" Adelman (October 30, 1930 – March 19, 2016) was an American photographer known for his images of the Civil Rights Movement.
Adelman used his background as a graduate student in Applied Aesthetics from Columbia University to forge close ties with leading figures of art and literature, including Andy Warhol and Samuel Beckett. After studying photography for several years under the tutelage of Harper's Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch, Adelman volunteered as a photographer for the Congress of Racial Equality in the early 1960s, a position which granted him access to key leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, including; Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Baldwin. Adelman's work captured a decade of racial strife during the 1960s, including portraits of Martin Luther King reciting his "I Have a Dream" speech, the 50 mile March from Selma to Montgomery, and King resting in his casket after the assassination. His photos, some of which are archived at the Library of Congress, captured segregation and civil unrest in the South. In 2007, he published his book "Mine Eyes Have Seen: Bearing Witness to the Struggle for Civil Rights".
Westwood Gallery NYC presented the premiere gallery exhibition for Bob Adelman's civil rights photographs in 2008, curated by James Cavello. During the exhibition the gallery held an event on April 4, 2008 marking the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The actress and civil rights advocate Ruby Dee read from Dr. King’s "Beyond Vietnam" speech. The gallery also exhibited and represents Adelman’s photographs of New York artists, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann, James Rosenquist, Robert Indiana, Adolph Gottlieb, other artists and social photographic essays.
His work is also represented by the Howard Greenberg Gallery.
On March 20, 2017 the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division officially acquired the Bob Adelman photographic archives which included the full spectrum of his work from his famed Civil Rights captures to his less celebrated pornographic bondage images. The archive includes approximately 50,000 prints and 525,000 image negatives and slides.
Raised on Long Island, New York, he earned his B.A. at Rutgers University, Law Studies from Harvard University, and M.A. in Philosophy from Columbia University.
Adelman died March 19, 2016, in Miami Beach at the age of 85.
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