Dorothy Bohm was born in Konigsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad) in 1924, she has lived in England since 1939. She studied photography at Manchester College of Technology (graduating in 1942) and went on to work at Samuel Cooper portraiture studio, before opening her own studio, Studio Alexander, in Market Street, Manchester in 1946.
In the late 1940s, having successfully established her portraiture studio, Dorothy discovered a love for open air photography. She regularly spent time in the artists' colony of Ascona in the Ticino, Switzerland where she developed her photographic techniques.
By the 1950s she had completely abandoned studio portraiture for 'street photography'. She travelled widely with her husband Louis Bohm (a fellow émigré from Nazi Europe, whom she met when they were both students in Manchester). Her work of this period provides fascinating insights into the changing face of post-war Europe, as well as the USA, the USSR and Israel.
The first time Dorothy experimented with colour photography was in Mexico in 1956. But her first cohesive body of colour work didn’t happen until the early 1980s, when she explored the potential of Polaroid photography to memorable effect. A small section of the exhibition is devoted to this transitional period in her career.
It was in 1984, on a visit to the Far East, that Dorothy used Kodak colour film for the first time and thereafter abandoned black and white entirely.
Since then, although the human figure in its natural setting is still the primary focus of her work, her approach has become more painterly and allusive, with an ever greater interest in spatial and other forms of ambiguity.
To this day, however, Dorothy Bohm continues to use photography in its purest, unmanipulated form.
[Courtesy of Manchester Art Galleries]
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