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.