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Greenwich Historical Society to exhibit work of six women LIFE photographers

Greenwich tme | By Layla Schlack | Feb 29, 2024

Kicking off during the first week of Women’s History Month, a new exhibit celebrates women photographers of LIFE magazine. Greenwich Historical Society will host “LIFE: Six Women Photographers,” from March 6 to July 7.

The exhibit features work by Margaret Bourke-White, Marie Hansen, Martha Holmes, Lisa Larsen, Nina Leen and Hansel Mieth, who worked for LIFE between the late 1930s and early 1970s, according to a news release from the Greenwich Historical Society. Organized by New-York Historical Society, the show includes more than 70 photos.

Bourke-White joined the staff of LIFE when it first launched in 1936, according to New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, which states one of her photos was on the cover of the magazine’s first issue. She’s best known for being one of the first female war correspondents, according to Artnet. She died in Stamford in 1971.

Hansen joined LIFE in 1941, photographing mainly political events and protests in Washington, D.C., according to LIFE. She also did some work in Hollywood, which caught the attention of MGM producer Joe Pasternak, who wanted to make a movie about her.

Holmes, who joined LIFE in 1944, was known for her portrait photography of stars like Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford, her New York Times obituary states. She was also a sports photographer in an era when that was a male-dominated field.

Margaret Bourke
Margaret Bourke-White, photograph from “Franklin Roosevelt’s Wild West,” LIFE, November 23, 1936. (L-R) Young girls Iris Fredricks w. Betty & Grace Whitbread posing next to mislettered sign (all its N letters are upside down) on the outskirts of town. Margaret Bourke-White/LIFE Picture Collection, Dotdash Meredith Corp.
Marie Hansen, photograph from “The WAACs,” LIFE, September 7, 1942. Hansen’s story acquainted Americans to women’s participation in the military: over the course of the war, 150,000 women joined up and thousands were deployed. Marie Hansen/LIFE Picture Collection, Dotdash Meredith Corp.
Martha Holmes, photograph from “Mr. B.,” LIFE, April 24, 1950. Martha Holmes began photographing for LIFE in 1944. On view in the exhibition are Holmes’s 1950 photographs of mixed-race singer Billy Eckstine, including one of Eckstine being embraced by a white fan—a provocative image that Holmes felt was one of her best because she felt that it “told just what the world should be like.” Henry Luce supported this opinion. Martha Holmes/LIFE Picture Collection, Dotdash Meredith Corp.

Larsen photographed John F. Kennedy’s wedding to Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, as well as Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev, according to the International Center for Photography. 

Known for her love of animals, Leen’s first work for LIFE was a photo essay from the Bronx Zoo, according to LIFE. The magazine states she had a special affinity for bats. She also did portraits and group portraits of humans. One of her more famous shots is of Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, among others, protesting the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s refusal to include modern abstract work, LIFE states.

Mieth and her husband lived with, worked with and photographed migrant laborers during the Depression before she worked with LIFE, according to the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress states that Mieth felt that LIFE watered down her political photography. This exhibition will include some of her shots of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union.

Lisa Larsen, photograph from “Tito As Soviet Hero, How Times Have Changed!” LIFE, June 25, 1956. At the height of the Cold War in 1956, LIFE sent Lisa Larsen to document the Kremlin visit of Yugoslavia’s President Josip Broz (known as Tito). She captured the immense crowds, later believed to be present under duressLisa Larsen/LIFE Picture Collection, Dotdash Meredith Corp.
Nina Leen, unpublished photograph from “American Woman’s Dilemma,” LIFE, June 16, 1947. Leen also photographed single working women for “American Woman’s Dilemma,” but most of those photographs, such as this one, were not printed in the magazine.Nina Leen/LIFE Picture Collection, Dotdash Meredith Corp.
Hansel Mieth, photograph from “International Ladies’ Garment Workers: How a Great Union Works Inside and Out,” LIFE, August 1, 1938. On view in the exhibition is Mieth’s 1938 photo essay about the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, which offered a sympathetic view of organized labor during the Depression.Hansel Mieth/LIFE Picture Collection, Dotdash Meredith Corp.