Louise Dahl-Wolfe

Louise Dahl-Wolfe


Artist Details

Birth Place
Alameda, California
Death Place
Allendale, New Jersey
Phonetic Spelling
loo-EEZ dahl-woolf
Places of Residence
New York City; Frenchtown, New Jersey
San Francisco Institute of Art, California, 1914–20
Retrospective Exhibitions

Louise Dahl-Wolfe: A 90th Birthday Salute, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College, Chicago, 1985;

Louise Dahl-Wolfe, The Grey Art Gallery and Study Center, New York City, 1983

NMWA Exhibitions

Live Dangerously, 2019
Fashion Forward: Photographs by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, 2009
From the Collection: Portraits of Women by Women, 2006
Vistas and Visions: Selected Landscapes from the Permanent Collection, 2006
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987–1997, 1997
A History of Women Photographers, 1997
Louise Dahl-Wolfe: A Retrospective Exhibition, 1987

About the Artist

As a staff photographer for Harper’s Bazaar, Louise Dahl-Wolfe introduced a witty naturalism to the staid conventions of fashion photography and helped pioneer the use of color film.

After studying painting, figure drawing, and design at the San Francisco Institute of Art, Dahl-Wolfe began experimenting with photography in 1921, inspired by Anne Brigman’s photographs. In 1928, Dahl-Wolfe married American sculptor Meyer (Mike) Wolfe and soon established herself as a professional photographer.

The couple moved to New York City in 1933, where Dahl-Wolfe worked as a freelance photographer before accepting a position at Harper’s Bazaar in 1936. At the magazine, she enjoyed considerable creative freedom as part of a formidable creative team including fashion editor Diana Vreeland.

Dahl-Wolfe often juxtaposed her models with famous works of art, resulting in surprising and irreverent compositions. Fashion assignments led her to locations around the world, where she posed her models outdoors, in natural light. Throughout this period, Dahl-Wolfe also created striking portrait photographs of society figures and art world celebrities, including authors Carson McCullers and Colette, designer Christian Dior, and sculptor Isamu Noguchi.

Following her departure from Harper’s Bazaar in 1958 until her retirement in 1960, Dahl-Wolfe did freelance work for publications including Vogue and Sports Illustrated. Dahl-Wolfe’s photographs are often cited as an influence on later photographers, notably Richard Avedon and Irving Penn.

National Museum of Women in the Arts