A style of the own
The work of photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe is the focus of a major retrospective in London
The pioneering originality of the images taken by Louise Dahl-Wolfe (1895-1989) during the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s is the subject of the first retrospective in Britain on one of the most important women photographers of all time. The ‘Louise Dahl. A Style of Her Own’ exhibition features more than 100 photographs highlighting the different aspects of a stellar career. The artist infused a breath of fresh air into the somewhat stiff and formal European approach to fashion photography not only by using colour and natural daylight but also by shooting outdoors and in exotic locations such as South America, Cuba, Mexico, Tunisia and Spain. She also preferred to cast models with healthy well-toned bodies that reflected “a refreshing natural wholeness the was nonetheless chic” and by doing so ‘she captured a new sensibility in American fashion, showing clothes that were casual and comfortable and which reflected women’s increasingly active and independent lifestyles”. And, as the exhibition highlights, her work influenced greatly the likes of Richard Avedon and Irving Penn and numerous other photographers. On top of her revolutionary approach to fashion photography, the artist was also instrumental in revitalising the idea of portraiture as apparent in her pictures of Hollywood stars, such as Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh, Veronica Lake, and writers like Jean Cocteau, Christopher Isherwood, Edith Sitwell and Colette. Equally revolutionary and imaginative is her early career work focused on documenting the effect of the Great Depression on the poor and the dispossessed. The Fashion and Textile Museum in London is the location of the ‘Louise Dahl-Wolfe: A Style of Her Own’ exhibition from October 20th to January 21st 2018.
Liz Gibbons as Photographer, 1938. Photograph by Louise Dahl-Wolfe. Collection Staley Wise Gallery
Opening Day for Trade Buyers, Diors, 1946. Photograph by Louise Dahl-Wolfe. Collection Staley Wise Gallery
© 1989 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents