LIFE: Six Women Photographers at New-York Historical Society, June 28 – October 6, 2019

“The New-York Historical Society is proud to present the work of six prominent women photographers, whose iconic work for LIFE magazine helped create modern photojournalism as it depicted a quickly-evolving world. On view in the Center for Women’s History’s Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery, the exhibition features more than 70 images by Margaret Bourke-White, Marie Hansen, Martha Holmes, Lisa Larsen, Nina Leen, and Hansel Mieth, who were among the few women photographers employed by LIFE between the late 1930s and the early 1970s.

For decades, Americans saw the world through the lens of the photographers at LIFE, the first magazine in the United States to tell stories with images rather than text. These innovative photo essays became the trademark of the publication. The exhibition provides context to this unique storytelling format through published and unpublished photographs, including vintage prints, copy prints, and contact sheets. Taken together with select items from the Time Inc. records, the photographs show the editing process behind the final, published stories that helped define the United States as a world power during what Luce called the ‘American Century.’ This is the first exhibition to focus on some of the women who worked on staff for LIFE.” — New-York Historical Society

FORT PECK DAM

Margaret Bourke-White, photograph from “Franklin Roosevelt’s Wild West,” LIFE, November 23, 1936 © LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation

2 Margaret Bourke-White - Wild West Nov 23 1936

Margaret Bourke-White, photograph from “Franklin Roosevelt’s Wild West,” LIFE, November 23, 1936 © LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation

115566817.jpg

Hansel Mieth, photograph from “International Ladies’ Garment Workers: How a Great Union Works Inside and Out,” LIFE, August 1, 1938 © LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation. Image courtesy New-York Historical Society.

International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU)

Hansel Mieth, photograph from “International Ladies’ Garment Workers: How a Great Union Works Inside and Out,” LIFE, August 1, 1938 © LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation. Image courtesy New-York Historical Society.

5 Marie Hansen - The WAACs Sept 7 1942

Marie Hansen, photograph from “The WAACs,” LIFE, September 7, 1942 © LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation. Image courtesy New-York Historical Society.

WACs doing daily calisthenics exercises.

Marie Hansen, photograph from “The WAACs,” LIFE, September 7, 1942 © LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation. Image courtesy New-York Historical Society.

WOMAN'S DILEMMA

Nina Leen, photograph from “American Woman’s Dilemma,” LIFE, June 16, 1947 (similar frame published) © LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation. Image courtesy New-York Historical Society.

American Woman's Dilemma

Nina Leen, unpublished photograph from “American Woman’s Dilemma,” LIFE, June 16, 1947 © LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation. Image courtesy New-York Historical Society.

BILLY ECKSTINE

Martha Holmes, photograph from “Mr. B.,” LIFE, April 24, 1950 © LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation. Image courtesy New-York Historical Society.

BILLY ECKSTINE

Martha Holmes, photograph from “Mr. B.,” LIFE, April 24, 1950 © LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation. Image courtesy New-York Historical Society.

11 Lisa Larsen - Tito as Soviet Hero June 25 1956

Lisa Larsen, photograph from “Tito As Soviet Hero, How Times Have Changed!” LIFE, June 25, 1956 © LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation. Image courtesy New-York Historical Society.

12 Lisa Larsen - Tito as Soviet Hero June 25 1956

Lisa Larsen, unpublished photograph from “Tito as Soviet Hero, How Times Have Changed!” LIFE, June 25, 1956 © LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation. Image courtesy New-York Historical Society.

“These pioneering women photographers captured events international and domestic, wide-ranging and intimate, serious and playful,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “At the forefront of history, these photographers enabled the public ‘to see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events,’ as LIFE founder and editor-in-chief, Henry Luce, described it. We are honored to highlight their work in our Center for Women’s History, where their contributions to photojournalism can shine.”

Title image by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.