Louise Dahl-Wolfe: A Retrospective Exhibition

A black and white photograph of a light-skinned woman wearing a one-piece white bathing suit and white swim cap. She is lying down on sand with her hands behind her head. There are footprints in the sand below her, and the image is framed by large rocks.
Sep 22 to Nov 23, 1987

NMWA presents its first photography show, Louise Dahl-Wolfe: A Retrospective Exhibition, which opens on September 22, 1987. The exhibit includes Dahl-Wolfe’s early documentary photos of southerners in the 1930s, as well as her evocative fashion photographs for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue from the 1940s and 1950s.

A pioneer in the use of natural lighting for fashion photography, Dahl-Wolfe posed many of her famous subjects out-of-doors in unconventional settings. She was consistently innovative in the area of color photography. Her portraits are insightful and compelling. Among the many celebrities whom she photographed are Carson McCullers, Christian Dior, Orson Wells, Isaiuu Noguchi, and Colette.

The artist was born in San Francisco in 1895. Her formal training took place at the San Francisco Institute of Art, where she studied to be a painter. In 1921 she was introduced to photography by Anne Brigman, a member of Alfred Stieglitz’s circle, and was soon an avid enthusiast. She became a professional photographer in 1928, following her marriage to sculptor Meyer Wolfe. During the worst days of the Depression in 1933, Dahl-Wolfe opened a studio in New York City and began the climb to the top of her profession. Her clients included Bonwit Teller, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harpers Bazaar, Vogue, and Sports Illustrated.

The 91-year-old artist is now at work putting her negatives in order, supervising their printing, and preparing exhibitions. Her photographs are in major museum collections throughout the world.

A view of a gallery space. The black-and-white photograph shows several photographs hanging on a white wall. Above the photographs, it says in big letters: "Louise Dahl-Wolfe: A Retrospective Exhibition."

Installation image of Louise Dahl-Wolfe: A Retrospective Exhibition