Louise Dahl-Wolfe

Texts by Oliva Maria Rubio, John P. Jacob, Celina Lunsford, and Louise Dahl-Wolfe

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8 1/4 x 11 1/4 in. 256 pages, 134 four-color and black-and-white images Hardcover 978-1-59711-358-8 April 2016
Louise Dahl-Wolfe opens a window onto the work of one of the most influential fashion photographers of the twentieth century. After being discovered by Edward Steichen and having her work exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1937, Louise Dahl-Wolfe went on to revitalize the Hollywood portrait and invigorate the fashion photography of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. During her tenure at Harper’s Bazaar—which lasted over two decades—Dahl-Wolfe pioneered the use of natural lighting in fashion photography, shooting on location and outdoors. Her modernist outlook changed American visual culture, influencing a school of artists—namely Richard Avedon, Horst P. Horst, and Irving Penn. Spanning over thirty years, this survey takes into account Dahl-Wolfe’s work not just in fashion, but also in portraiture and nude photography. Today, she stands among some of the most prestigious photographers of her time, including Steichen, George Hoyningen-Huene, Erwin Blumenfeld, and Martin Munkácsi, with a mastery of the genre that still resonates with fashion and portraiture lovers alike.


Louise Dahl-Wolfe (born in San Francisco, 1895; died New Jersey, 1989) began her career making pictures in 1923. After studying at the San Francisco Institute of Art, she moved to New York and opened a photography studio, which she maintained until 1960. In 1936 she was hired as a staff photographer at Harper’s Bazaar, and over the next thirty years revolutionized fashion photography through her editorial and personal work. Her work has been exhibited at the Grey Gallery at New York University; International Museum of Photography, Rochester, New York; Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson; and Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, among others.


Oliva María Rubio (essay) is an art historian, curator, and writer. She has been the director of exhibitions at La Fábrica, Madrid, since 2004, and was previously the artistic director of PHotoEspaña. Last year, she authored The A–Z of Spanish Photographers, the most comprehensive and thorough volume on Spanish photography to be published in the United States.


María Vela Zanetti (essay) is a fashion writer and cultural critic. She writes a column called El Cuentahílos for El Mundo, Spain.


Rebecca Senf (essay) is Norton Family Curator of Photography at the Phoenix Art Museum and Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson. She holds a PhD in art history from Boston University, and has worked on major exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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