Monday, August 22, 2011

Through the Lens: Louise Dahl-Wolfe

"Natelie by Pool," 1950

Monday's inspiration is celebrated American photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe, who was best known for her work for Harper's Bazaar (she worked at the magazine from 1936 to 1958, with editors Carmel Snow and Diana Vreeland).  In the later years of her career, she freelanced for Vogue and Sports Illustrated.  She influenced such noted photographers as Irving Penn and Richard Avedon.

Dahl-Wolfe preferred portraits to fashion photography, and taking photographs outdoor, with natural light.  She explains her fascination with light, and compares photography with painting:
I believe that the camera is a medium of light, that one actually paints with light. In using the spotlights with reflecting lights, I could control the quality of the forms revealed to build a composition. Photography, to my mind, is not a fine art. It is splendid for recording a period of time, but it has definite limitations, and the photographer certainly hasn’t the freedom of the painter. One can work with taste and emotion and create an exciting arrangement of significant form, a meaningful photograph, but a painter has the advantage of putting something in the picture that isn’t there or taking something out that is there. I think this makes painting a more creative medium. (Source)
The full archive of her work can be found at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, gifted by the artist herself.  Some of the other works were acquired from the estate at Dahl-Wolfe's death in 1989.


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