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The Life and Photography of Doris Ulmann

The Life and Photography of Doris Ulmann

Philp Walker Jacobs
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    The Life and Photography of Doris Ulmann
    Book Description:

    Doris Ulmann (1882-1934) was one of the foremost photographers of the twentieth century, yet until now there has never been a biography of this fascinating, gifted artist. Born into a New York Jewish family with a tradition of service, Ulmann sought to portray and document individuals from various groups that she feared would vanish from American life. In the last eighteen years of her life, Ulmann created over 10,000 photographs and illustrated five books, includingRoll, Jordan, RollandHandicrafts of the Southern Highlands.

    Inspired by the paintings of the European old masters and by the photographs of Hill and Adamson and Clarence White, Ulmann produced unique and substantial portrait studies. Working in her Park Avenue studio and traveling throughout the east coast, Appalachia, and the deep South, she carefully studied and photographed the faces of urban intellectuals as well as rural peoples. Her subjects included Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, African American basket weavers from South Carolina, and Kentucky mountain musicians. Relying on newly discovered letters, documents, and photographs -- many published here for the first time -- Philip Jacobs's richly illustrated biography secures Ulmann's rightful place in the history of American photography.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5639-2
    Subjects: History, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Figures and Plates
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xxiv)
  5. Chapter One Beginnings
    (pp. 1-44)

    Doris May Ulmann was born on May 29, 1882, in New York City—the second child and second daughter of Bernhard and Gertrude Maas Ulmann.¹ Her father, a descendant of a distinguished line of European Jews, was a textile merchant. As a twenty-five-year-old resident of Fuerth, Germany, Bernhard Ulmann had immigrated to America in 1867, arriving in New York City on the shipAmericathat August. A month later, his younger brother, Ludwig, joined him.²

    Both brothers adjusted quickly to the new opportunities and freedom America provided, but they never lost sight of the fact that Christian Americans often responded...

  6. Chapter Two Moving On
    (pp. 45-88)

    By the beginning of 1923, Doris Ulmann had moved out of her family home on West Eighty-sixth Street and moved into apartment 9-C at 1000 Park Avenue.¹ The move from her home of forty years was a dramatic change for the photographer, but it gave her an opportunity for a new beginning—a real chance to start over and step away from the past. From her new home, Ulmann continued to explore the difficult oil pigment photographic process and created several photographs in this medium, including a portrait of a woman outside a tenement house (fig. 18). Seeking to imitate...

  7. Chapter Three Photographing the South
    (pp. 89-132)

    In 1931, Lewis Hine did a photographic study of the construction of the Empire State Building. His work documented not only the rise of the largest building in the largest city in America but also, symbolically, the depth and breadth of the power of American industry. Many other American photographers of the period also focused their cameras on this building and photographed contemporary American architecture, technology, machines, and designs that revealed the profundity of this power. In contrast, Ulmann continued to aim her camera in other directions.¹

    In the latter part of May 1931, she returned to New Orleans. She...

  8. Chapter Four The Last Trip
    (pp. 133-166)

    Following their return to New York City, Ulmann and Niles spent several “days preparing for her upcoming photographic expedition to North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. During this time she also met with Allen Eaton and discussed the people, activities, and objects he wished her to photograph on the next southern trip.

    Once they had completed their preparations, Ulmann and Niles headed south for their first destination—Washington, D.C. They arrived at the Raleigh Hotel in Washington, D.C, on Saturday, April 14. Later in the day, she wrote to Olive Campbell, informing her of her current activities and their schedule. “Mrs....

  9. Catalogue of Images
    (pp. 167-224)
  10. Appendix One: A Selective List of Public and Private Collections Containing Photographs, Books, and Archives By and About Doris Ulmann
    (pp. 225-234)
  11. Appendix Two: A List of Doris Ulmann’s Exhibitions
    (pp. 235-244)
  12. Appendix Three: Published Photographs
    (pp. 245-248)
  13. Appendix Four: The Medium, Edition, Identification, and Rarity of Doris Ulmann’s Photographs
    (pp. 249-250)
  14. Appendix Five: A Selective Index of Doris Ulmann’s Photographic Subjects
    (pp. 251-264)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 265-296)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 297-310)
  17. Index
    (pp. 311-326)