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Paul J. Woolf

Vintage Photographs of New York City Architecture

October–November 2017

Paul J. Woolf, Central Park & 59th Street, ​c. 1936. Night time cityscape with Central Park in the foreground and tall buildings in the background.
Paul J. Woolf, New York City Skyline, ​c. 1936. Day time cityscape with low buildings on the left and tall buildings on the right.
Paul J. Woolf, Untitled, ​c. 1935. Night time cityscape with tallest buildings in the background.
Paul J. Woolf, Central Park Looking Southeast, ​c. 1935. Night time cityscape showing the southeast corner of the park occupying the lower third of the frame with tall buildings, including "Essex House," surrounding.
Paul J. Woolf, RCA Building from Times Square Montage, ​c. 1936. Night time cityscape with the lights of Times Square in the foreground and the tallest, central RCA Building in the center midground, an overcast sky behind it.
Paul J. Woolf, City Symphony, ​c. 1935. Hazy cityscape with a nearby rooftop in the foreground right and semi-obscured skyscrapers silhouetted in the mid- and background.
Paul J. Woolf, Untitled, c. 1933. Daytime street scene featuring a building marked "Geo. Ehret's" in the foreground right on a street lined with cars. A tall building looms in the background center.
Paul J. Woolf, Untitled, ​c. 1933. Night time cityscape above and at the level of the right side buildings, with a taller building occupying the left of the frame.
Paul J. Woolf, Broadway, ​c. 1935. Night time street scene featuring lit neon hotel, casino, and advertising signs.
Paul J. Woolf, George Washington Bridge, c. 1933. Cityscape with bridge on center left of the frame. Cloudy sky above. A few buildings are visible on the far right.
Paul J. Woolf, Empire State from Park Avenue, c. 1933. Shorter buildings converge in the foreground with the Empire State Building in the upper left of the frame in the background.
Paul J. Woolf, George Washington Bridge Abstraction, ​c. 1933. View of the street and George Washington Bridge with horizon line at an upper left to lower right diagonal.
Paul J. Woolf, Empire State Building, c. 1933. Night time cityscape with Empire State Building in center of frame in background.
Paul J. Woolf, McGraw Hill Building & Hudson River from Roof of the Hotel Lincoln, ​c. 1935. Night time cityscape with tell McGraw Hill Building in center left of the frame beneath overcast sky.
Paul J. Woolf, Times Building Looking South, ​c. 1935. Night time cityscape with partly cloudy skies.
Paul J. Woolf, Central Park South & West, ​c. 1935. Night time cityscape with park on lower left, street running up the right of the frame, and buildings across the middle of the frame.
Paul J. Woolf, New York Skyline at Dusk, c. 1935. Night time cityscape with overcast sky and one building filling the left quarter of the vertical frame.
Paul J. Woolf, New York Skyline Evening Haze, ​c. 1936. Dark and hazy cityscape with skyscrapers in the distance silhouetted across the frame.
Paul J. Woolf, Rockefeller Center Looking Southwest, ​c. 1936. Night time city view from a balcony or rooftop with an out-of-focus railing in the lower left of the frame.
Paul J. Woolf, Central Park Looking South, ​c. 1936. Night time cityscape with the park filling the lower half of the frame, a street running up the lower left. Tall buildings across the center of the frame and an overcast sky above.
Paul J. Woolf, Baseball Game, c. 1933. Men play baseball in front of a structure marked "Houston Coal Co."
Paul J. Woolf, Rockefeller Center Looking South, ​c. 1935. Night time cityscape photographed from beneath a dark arch.
Paul J. Woolf, RCA Building from Plaza, ​c. 1935. Night time scene with tallest building alit and dividing the frame vertically.
Paul J. Woolf, Hanging Gardens at Rockefeller Center, ​c. 1935. Elevated courtyard photographed from above, street runs up the lower left of the frame.
Paul J. Woolf, RCA Building at Night, ​c. 1936. Silhouetted cathedral in the foreground against the tall RCA Building rising up on the center left of the frame.
Paul J. Woolf, International Building Lobby, ​c. 1935. Lobby with tall windows photographed from between the top of two escalators. Cathedral entrance opposite can be seen through center window.
Paul J. Woolf, Rockefeller Center Construction, ​c. 1933. Scaffolding with construction workers.
Paul J. Woolf, Rockefeller Center Construction, ​c. 1933. Detail of structural metal supports and a construction worker seated on one of the horizontal pieces.
Paul J. Woolf, RCA Building, New York City, c. 1936. RCA building towers beyond the top of the frame with cathedral spires silhouetted in the foreground.
Paul J. Woolf, Altman's Canopy Against the Empire State Building, ​c. 1937. Looking up from beneath a domed structure supported by columns (left) with a view of the Empire State Building on the right of the frame.
Paul J. Woolf, Grand Central, ​c. 1935. Night time view looking down towards two intersecting streets and tall buildings rising above them.
Paul J. Woolf, Times Building Looking South, ​c. 1935. Night time cityscape in a vertical composition.
Paul J. Woolf, New York Skyline at Night, ​c. 1935. Night time cityscape. Two close buildings on the left and right foreground with skyscrapers across the background center.
Paul J. Woolf, New York Hospital, ​c. 1935. Diagonal composition upper left to lower right, looking up at hospital building with cloudy skies behind.
Paul J. Woolf, Hayden Planetarium, ​c. 1935. Night time view of domed planetarium building.
Paul J. Woolf, Carl Schurz Park, ​c. 1935. Night time view of a park with street lights illuminating various walking paths and stairways.
Paul J. Woolf, Sixth Avenue Looking South, ​c. 1935. Night time cityscape with an illuminated Sixth Avenue running diagonally up and right in the center of the frame.
Paul J. Woolf, 86th Street Clover Leaf at Night, ​c. 1935. Night time view of riverside street with circular on- and off-ramps.

Press Release

Keith de Lellis Gallery presents the architectural photography of Paul J. Woolf in its premier exhibition at 41 East 57th Street. A graduate of the Clarence White School of Photography and the University of California, Berkeley, Paul J. Woolf began photographing professionally in the 1930s out of his New York studio.

 

Known for his technical mastery of the photographic medium, Woolf produced images that were crisp, dramatically lit, and beautifully composed. In his essay for Technology Review, Woolf wrote, “Art and photography meet, of course, at many points, and among the most important of these is composition.” (Technology Review, June 1941, p. 351). He proved this point time and again as he examined New York City’s iconic buildings. His photographs and writings on photography appeared in numerous publications, including Popular Photography, U.S. Camera, and The Complete Photographer.

 

Exemplified in this exhibition, an important consideration for Mr. Woolf was whether the subject was better served by a daytime or nighttime exposure. He wrote “Any building will change its mood according to time of day,” (Popular Photography, March 1942, p. 84). Dramatic silhouettes at twilight accentuate form and lighting design, while midday sunlight provides crisp details and contrasting shadows in Woolf’s architectural studies. He adds, “I cannot see any excuse for soft-focus work in architectural photography. Buildings are hard, clean-lined, sharply defined – and they should be shown in that manner, with every portion in focus.” His photographs consistently maintain this philosophy, providing accurate depictions of his subjects enhanced by his artistic composition, achieving his goal of both visual and conceptual clarity.

Woolf’s technical and creative abilities attracted many commercial clients, such as General Motors and Pittsburgh Glass. His comprehensive series on Rockefeller Center was reproduced in many of the Center’s publications including the cover of the Rainbow Room menu. His photographs have been exhibited and collected internationally at such institutions as the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Modern Art.

 

This exhibition will be on view at the Keith de Lellis Gallery through November 25, 2017.