Suspension Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge

Description (Brief):

Platinum print, matted; Suspension bridge, Brooklyn Bridge. Signed and dated on mat, pencil. Verso: handwritten "Not for sale."

The Paul Outerbridge collection consists of six platinotype prints and five 5 Carbro color prints. In 1959, the Smithsonian Institution collected these eleven prints from Paul Outerbridge’s widow to produce a solo exhibition of his work. Outerbridge was known as a pioneer in the school of modern photography. “He was capable of transforming everyday objects into virtual abstractions in which harmonious patterns of mass and line, light and shade superseded our conventional perceptions of such objects.” Through Outerbridge’s work in both black and white and color photography, he transformed the general artistic concerns of the avant-garde into the language of photography.

Paul Outerbridge, Jr. (1896-1958) was born to a prominent surgeon’s family in Manhattan, New York City on August 15, 1896. Upon his return from military service and contrary to his family’s wishes, Outerbridge shied away from a traditional university education, deciding instead to pursue a career in the arts. In 1921, he studied in the Clarence White School of Photography in New York. Outerbridge took easily to the medium. In 1922 he was published for the first time in Vogue magazine.

Outerbridge married first wife Paula Smith in 1925 and the young couple immediately moved to Paris. There he studied with such avant-garde artists as Marcel Duchamp. In 1928 Outerbridge and Smith separated. He moved to Berlin to become involved in the emerging German cinema.

Unsuccessful in making the transition to film, Outerbridge returned to New York City in 1929. However, he was unhappy with the city life and built a studio in his country home to resume his photographic work. Outerbridge was one of the first photographers to fully appreciate the impact color photography would make on the field. He developed a version of the Carbro color process, a combination of Carbon tissues and Bromide prints used to create permanent, extra-dimensional prints.

Outerbridge’s prints were mainly created for commercial purposes. However, privately he was fascinated with the nude figure. Outerbridge used his color prints to study the female nude.

In 1943 Outerbridge moved to Hollywood and eventually Laguna Beach, CA. Two years later he married Lois Weir, a California fashion designer. On October 17, 1958 Outerbridge died of lung cancer.

The Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division maintains a small collection of six of Outerbridge’s platinotype prints. The National Gallery of Australia has a significant collection.

Date Made: 1923

Maker: Outerbridge, Jr., Paul

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: New York, New York City

See more items in: Work and Industry: Photographic History, Photo History Collection, Photography, Paul Outerbridge Collection


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Mrs. Paul Outerbridge

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: PG.006058Catalog Number: 6058Accession Number: 223759

Object Name: photograph

Physical Description: paper (overall material)Measurements: image: 11.5 cm x 9 cm; 4 17/32 in x 3 17/32 in


Record Id: nmah_1005352

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.