November 19 1895 - December 11 1989
Photograph of Louise Dahl-Wolfe, unknown date, unknown photographer, courtesy of the Louise Dahl-Wolfe Archive, Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ, USA. (c) Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents, 1989
Place of Birth:
Designer, Fashion Photographer, Photographer, Portraitist
As a staff photographer for Harper’s Bazaar
from 1936 through 1958, Louise Dahl-Wolfe introduced a witty, relaxed, and natural aspect to fashion photography. She also made memorable portrait photographs of leading figures from politics and the arts and was a pioneer in the technique of color photography.
Born in San Francisco, Louise Dahl spent six years at her native city’s Institute of Art studying painting, figure drawing, anatomy, and design. Inspired by the work of a friend, Dahl began experimenting with a camera at twenty-six. By 1929, she had established herself as a professional photographer and married the American sculptor Meyer (Mike) Wolfe, who often constructed the backgrounds for her photo shoots.
In 1933, the couple moved to New York, where Dahl-Wolfe was a freelance photographer. She accepted a position at Harper’s
because of her respect for the magazine’s editor, Diana Vreeland, and also because they offered her considerable creative freedom. Using her extensive knowledge of art history, Dahl-Wolfe created surprising, often humorous, juxtapositions of her human models with famous paintings and sculptures. Fashion assignments led her to locations around the world and to unexpected parts of New York, such as the elephant house at the Bronx Zoo.
Dahl-Wolfe’s work was shown in important touring exhibitions, and in 1987, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, held a retrospective of her work titled, Louise Dahl-Wolfe: A Retrospective Exhibition
. In 1987, Dahl-Wolfe also received an honorary doctorate from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia, the first women’s art college in the United States; her work is often cited as a significant influence on later photographers, notably Richard Avedon.
Place(s) of Residence:
San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA, USA (1914-1920)
Related Visual Artists:
wife of Meyer Wolfe
influenced Richard Avedon
friend of Consuelo Kanaga
friend of Annie Brigman
student of Rudolph Schaeffer
student of Frank van Sloan
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Honorary Doctorate, Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, PA, USA (1987)
Award, Art Director's Club of New York, New York, NY, USA (1941)
Photography, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA (1937)
Louise Dahl-Wolfe: A Retrospective Exhibition
A History of Women Photographers
Vistas and Visions: Selected Landscapes from the Permanent Collection
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997
From the Collection: Portraits of Women by Women
Louise Dahl-Wolfe: A Retrospective Exhibition, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, USA (1987)
Louise Dahl-Wolfe: A 90th Birthday Salute, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College, Chicago, IL, USA (1985)
Louise Dahl-Wolfe, The Grey Art Gallery and Study Center, New York, NY, USA (1983)