The Life and Photography of Doris Ulmann

The Life and Photography of Doris Ulmann

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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, including Roll, Jordan, Roll and Handicrafts 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.