PDN Photo of the Day

Celebrating 14 Influential Women Photographers

Fourteen women are holding fort at the Keith de Lellis Gallery in New York City through January 31, 2020. Each of them is represented by four images in an exhibition aptly titled “4×14”.

Spanning nearly a century, the women’s photographs capture cityscapes, cultures and customs, fashion models, family life, and more.

All pioneers in their own right, the women featured in this show carved a place for themselves in a male-dominated field. Industrial photographer Margaret Bourke-White was the first female war correspondent and the first staff photographer for both Fortune and Life magazines. (In fact she took Life’s very first cover!)

Charlotte Brooks expressed feeling like “one of the guys” as the only long-term woman staff photographer for Look magazine, and Louise Dahl-Wolfe had an accomplished 22-year tenure with Harper’s Bazaar as a fashion photographer, contributing 86 cover photographs and hundreds of additional images for the magazine that came to be defined by her distinct vision.

Doris Ulmann and Antoinette B. Hervey were both students of the Clarence White School, celebrating photography as a fine art. Ulmann traveled extensively throughout Appalachia to create portraits that would preserve local traditions and folklore as modernization crept across the country. Ulmann’s subjects are both humble and proud as they are pictured farming, crafting and peddling vegetables. While Ulmann’s focus was human, Hervey’s was more architectural in nature.

Another noted American Pictorialist, Gertrude Käsebier created quiet scenes portraying motherhood and childhood, elevating both photography and “women’s work” to a fine art.

London-based sisters Mesdames Morter (Dorothy Gladys Morter & Reta May Morter), practiced fine art in the form of self-portraiture (predating the work of Cindy Sherman) staging dramatic scenes in which one member of the duo posed as a character such as “Destiny” or “Love”.

A mid-century French photojournalist, Janine Niépce traveled across her home country with an eye for human interest and cultural shifts, particularly the women’s liberation movement. French humanist photographer Sabine Weiss contributed to Vogue, Time, Life, Newsweek, and more; but her personal work focused on the everyday lives and emotions of the people around her. Three of these photographs were selected for Edward Steichen’s Family of Man exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1955.

One of the show’s highlights—African American photographer Mikki Ferrill—documented Chicago’s soul-filled nightlife with her “Music Moves” series, her emotive subjects full of energy and movement.

Toni Frissell was also focused on portraiture, her work ranging from magazine fashion to photoessays, to wartime photojournalism and children’s book illustrations. According to the gallery, her daughter wrote: “Though diverse in subject, her photos all had the same theme: great beauty and style and an appreciation of the happier moments of life.”

In addition the exhibition also includes the work of Charlotte Brooks, Esther Bubley, Jeanne Ebstel and Sabine Weiss.

–Samantha Reinders

“4 x 14”
Keith de Lellis Gallery
Through January 31, 2020

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