The Louise Dahl-Wolfe exhibition showing from the 20 October 2017 – 21 January 2018 presents the first major retrospective of Louise Dahl-Wolfe's work in the UK, and a key focus of the exhibition is Dahl-Wolfe’s 22 years as leading contributor to Harper’s Bazaar.
The exhibition catalogue A Style of Her Own* documents how Louise Dahl-Wolfe transformed and modernized the look of fashion magazines in the thirties, forties and fifties, the period during which she was active, and hence played a significant role in providing the world of fashion with a new image.
A Style of Her Own spans the extent of her career as a fashion photographer and includes a large selection of her photographs for Harper's Bazaar, where she worked for two decades, as well as her most emblematic front covers. But it also features her portraits and nudes, an aspect of her oeuvre which has been largely overlooked. Together, these photographs reveal the changes experienced by our society and lifestyle in the middle of the turbulent twentieth century. Dahl-Wolfe developed most of her photographic career between 1936 and 1958, her years at Harper's Bazaar, where she published more than 600 color and 3,000 black and white photographs, as well as 86 front covers. In 1938 the magazine sent her to Hollywood to photograph famous actors and actresses, and she broke the mold of clichéd studio portraits opting instead to experiment with natural light and to make her subjects pose in outdoor locations.
From that point onward she was sent to Hollywood every year to photograph the greatest acting celebrities of the time, such as Vivien Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard, Bette Davis, Ginger Rogers, Orson Welles and Charles Boyer. Portraiture was a genre the artist kept exploring frequently during the course of her career, compiling a significant archive of photographs of playwrights, composers, artists, film directors and writers including the likes of Jean Cocteau, Colette, Lotte Lenya and Kurt Weill, Christopher Isherwood and W.H. Auden, Edward Hopper, Isamu Noguchi, Carson McCullers, Andre Malraux and Yves Montand.