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Photographers You Should Know: Louise Dahl-Wolfe

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Information for this article came from the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Born in 1895 in San Francisco, Louise Dahl-Wolfe’s images helped define the post-World War II look of the American woman.

Mary Jane Russell in Dior Dress, Paris 1950 (Photo Credit: Louise Dahl-Wolfe)

Mary Jane Russell in Dior Dress, Paris 1950 (Photo Credit: Louise Dahl-Wolfe)

She studied at the San Francisco Art Institute where she focused on figure drawing, design and painting. She was introduced to photography at the age of 26 and less than a decade later, she had established herself as a professional photographer. She was married to sculptor Meyer “Mike” Wolfe who often constructed the backgrounds for her photo shoots.

In 1933, she and her husband moved to New York where she worked as a freelance photographer. Dahl-Wolfe was a staff photographer for Harper’s Bazaar magazine from 1936 through 1958. She started working for the magazine out of her respect for the magazine’s editor, Carmel Snow and the fashion editor, Diana Vreeland.

Dahl-Wolfe was given freedom to photograph her subjects in her own particular style, which often blended the traditional fine-art training she received at the Art Institute with the new photographic medium. She created images that juxtaposed her models with famous painting or other artworks to create a neoclassic look.

Famed fashion photographer Richard Avedon lists Dahl-Wolfe as a significant influence on his own photography style.

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