In this exhibition of fashion photography and portraits, Staley-Wise celebrates the work of two artists whose work appeared in magazines over 30 years apart.
Louise Dahl-Wolfe’s photographs embody the classic elegance that was the hallmark of fashion photography since its earliest days, beginning with Edward Steichen in 1911. She was hired by Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow in 1936 when a formal elegance was the norm. Dahl-Wolfe embodied a fresh, decidedly American spirit in her collaborations at the magazine with Mrs. Snow, Alexey Brodovitch, and Diana Vreeland until 1958. She became an early pioneer of using natural light in her photographs. Harper’s Bazaar reflected dramatic changes to the style and content of women’s magazines during these 22 years, but Dahl-Wolfe’s models remained confidently elegant women throughout — whether in couture on the banks of the Seine in Paris or in swimsuits on the beach in Spain.
The photographs of Stephanie Pfriender Stylander reflect cultural changes represented in fashion photography after Dahl-Wolfe’s period. Models became younger and fashion’s depiction of a new sexual liberation was often at odds with the elegance and poise of the prior decades. Kate Moss was only 17 and completely unknown when she posed on the streets of New York in 1991 for Pfriender Stylander, who likened her to Anna Karina in the films of Jean-Luc Godard. Pfriender Stylander’s photographs for magazines and advertisements in the 1990s and 2000s celebrate a sensuality and grittiness inspired by French New Wave cinema, and she aims for revealing character and psychological truth in her work.
Louise Dahl-Wolfe was born in California and studied painting before she began her career as a photographer when she was in her 40s. Dahl-Wolfe was discovered by Edward Steichen, who arranged for her work to be published in Vanity Fair and who included her photographs in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1937. She was hired by Harper’s Bazaar in 1936 and produced her best-known fashion and portrait work for the magazine (including 86 covers) until her retirement in 1958. Even after her death in 1989, Dahl-Wolfe’s work continues to be published in books and exhibited worldwide. Her photographs remain in the permanent collections of institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, The International Center of Photography, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Stephanie Pfriender Stylander was born in New York and apprenticed under the celebrated photographer Art Kane after becoming inspired by the photographers she observed at rock and roll concerts. She began photographing fashion for editorial clients such as Glamour, Elle, Interview, and Harper’s Bazaar in the 1990s, which led to portrait assignments of prominent actors and musicians. Pfriender Stylander’s cinematic noir style was especially appreciated by European publications, but the demand for more highly merchandised and slickly produced fashion images beginning in the 2000s encouraged her to step back from editorial work and she pursued other directions in photography. Her fashion and portrait work was re-introduced in 2019 with the publication of her first book The Untamed Eye. This is Pfriender Stylander’s first exhibition in New York.