This book originates from Evelyn Hofer‘s work, “Dublin: A Portrait,” which gained significant popularity when first published in 1967, featuring a detailed essay by V. S. Pritchett and photographs by Hofer. “Dublin: A Portrait” exemplifies one of Hofer’s most significant bodies of work—her city portraits. These books present comprehensive prose texts by renowned authors accompanied by Hofer’s visually self-contained essays, each with its own narrative. Notably, “Dublin: A Portrait” marked the conclusion of this distinguished series.
The newly conceptualized work on Dublin delves into the photographs captured by Hofer for the publisher Harper & Row in 1965 and 1966. Throughout her time in Dublin, Hofer consistently directed her camera lens towards various cityscapes, focusing particularly on the individuals who embodied its essence. She crafted numerous portraits, featuring writers, public figures, and anonymous individuals on the streets alike. These portraits bear witness to Hofer’s profound and respectful engagement with her subjects, establishing a collaborative dynamic where they actively participate as equal partners in the photographic process.
About the Author
Evelyn Hofer, born in Marburg, Germany, in 1922 and passing away in Mexico City in 2009, left behind a remarkable legacy in photography. Fleeing Nazi Germany with her family at eleven, she later pursued her passion for photography methodically. Under the guidance of Hans Finsler, a pioneer of the “New Objectivity” movement, and an apprenticeship at Studio Bettina, Hofer honed her skills in composition, art theory, and the technical aspects of photography.
A pivotal moment in her career came in the mid-1950s when she collaborated with writer Mary McCarthy on “The Stones of Florence.” Over the next four decades, Hofer teamed up with various writers, including V.S. Pritchett and Jan Morris, producing books on cities like Spain, Dublin, New York City, London, Paris, Switzerland, and Washington, D.C. Her unique approach involved blending portraits with landscapes or cityscapes, capturing scenes with a still, timeless aura using a 4 x 5 inch viewfinder camera.
A trailblazer in adopting color film and the dye transfer printing process in fine art photography during the early 1960s, Hofer’s meticulous work stood in contrast to the spontaneous styles of contemporaries like William Eggleston and William Klein. With extraordinary patience, she aimed to slow down the world, examining its conditions and capturing precisely envisioned images, seeking an “inside value” in her subjects.
Hofer’s street photography delves into sociological connections, offering a poignant reflection on society. Her portraits, ranging from tradespeople to social elites, transcend mere intimacy, encapsulating the potentials and constraints of the human condition. Despite being dubbed “the most famous unknown photographer in America,” Hofer embraced the notion, emphasizing that the focus should be on the work rather than personal fame. Her goal was not just documentary photography but a subjective interpretation of the world, conveying the spirit of the time and a timeless message.