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Evelyn Hofer

Photos That Capture the Soul of 1960s Dublin

Nearly six decades ago, a German-born photographer, Evelyn Hofer, created beautifully crafted shots of the city and its people.

by Erica Ackerberg

For six months between 1965 and 1966, the German-born photographer Evelyn Hofer worked in Dublin, creating beautifully crafted portraits of the city and its people. Hofer took her time composing each shot, whether it captured a pair of housekeepers in brief repose or James Joyce’s death mask. The results were published in book form in 1967, to accompany an extended essay by V.S. Pritchett. Now, in DUBLIN (Steidl, $58), those images stand on their own to tell a thoughtful story of the city both in black-and-white and in quiet color.

Hofer, who died in Mexico City in 2009, was raised in Switzerland and Spain before settling in New York in 1946, where she contributed photo essays to Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. In 1959, she began crafting literary portraits of cities, collaborating with Pritchett as well as Mary McCarthy and Jan (then James) Morris. In a letter to Pritchett, Hofer reflected on Dublin as an island “crowded with people who seem to live a life full of fantasies, imagination, talk — yet lonely, suspicious of each other, on the defensive — and yet more able to remain within themselves.” Those depths and contrasts are reflected here.

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