Paul Outerbridge, Jr. (1896–1958) was an American photographer noted for
early use and experiments in color photography. Outerbridge was a fashion
and commercial photographer, an early pioneer and teacher of color
photography, and an artist who created erotic nudes photographs that could
not be exibited in his lifetime.
Outerbridge, while still in his teens, worked as an illustrator and
theatrical designer designing stage settings and lighting schemes. After
an accident caused his discharge from the Royal Canadian Naval Air
Service, in 1917, he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he did his first
photography work. In 1921, Outerbridge enrolled in the Clarence H. White
school of photography at Columbia University. Within a year his work began
being reproduced in Vanity Fair and Vogue magazine.
In London, in 1925, the Royal Photographic Society invited Outerbridge
to exhibit in a one-man show. Outerbridge then traveled to Paris and
became friends with surrealist artists, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, and
Berenice Abbott. In Paris, Outerbridge did a layout for the French Vogue
magazine, met and worked with Edward Steichen, and built the largest, most
completely equipped advertising photography studio of the times. In 1929,
12 of Outerbridge's photographs were included in the prestigious, German
Film und Foto exhibition.
Returning to New York in 1929, Outerbridge opened a studio doing
commercial and artistic work and began writing a monthly column on color
photography for the U.S. Camera Magazine. Outerbridge worked in tri-color
carbro process. In 1937, Outerbridge's photographs were included in an
exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art and, in 1940, Outerbridge published
his seminal book, Photographing in Color, using high quality illustrations
to explain his techniques. A scandal over his shocking, full-color erotic
nude photography, led to Outerbridge retiring as a commercial photographer
and moving to Hollywood in 1943, although he continued to contribute photo
stories to magazines and write his monthly column. In 1945, Outerbridge
married fashion designer Lois Weir and worked in their joint fashion
company, Lois-Paul Originals.
One year after his death, Smithsonian Institution staged a one-man show
of Outerbridge's photographs in 1959. Although his reputation has faded,
revivals of Outerbridge's photography in 1970s and 1990s has periodically
brought him into contemporary public knowledge.