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Nell Dorr: From Everlasting to Everlasting at The Amon Carter Museum
Nell Dorr (1893–1988), Light abstraction photogram, ca. 1950s–60s. Gelatin silver print. Gift of the Estate of Nell Dorr. P1990.46.1281

FORT WORTH.- Experience more than fifty photographs in this first-ever comprehensive survey of the work of Nell Dorr (1893–1988), one of the most spiritual and empathetic photographic artists of the twentieth century. Dorr is known for dedicating much of her life to photographing mothers and their children.

Dorr rose to prominence in the 1950s as a key chronicler of the intimate relationship between mother and child. Although Dorr’s life was rocked by the Great Depression, the historic wars of the twentieth century, and the emergence of modern mass culture, she consistently made photographs that turned away from the hard realities of everyday life toward a more romantic and rustic world in which past and present intermingled and women and children predominated. Increasingly throughout her life, Dorr strove to capture photographs that reflected spiritual rather than material values. Many of her photographs were integrated into her book projects, which reveal images she created in different styles and of more varied subject matter.

The photographs in this exhibition are drawn from Nell Dorr’s archive, one of several photographic archives that are held by the Amon Carter Museum.

Nell Becker Dorr was a prominent twentieth-century American photographer.

Nell Becker was born in 1895 in Cleveland, Ohio. Her father operated a photography business, and at the age of twelve Nell began to mix chemicals in the studio. The Becker family moved to Florida in 1923, and Nell Becker later opened her own photography studio. She moved to New York City and held her first showing of her own photographs in 1934. At this time Becker married her second husband, John Van Nostrand Dorr, who was one of the subjects of her first exhibition.

Following her first exhibit, Nell Dorr emerged as one of the leading photographers in the United States. She continued to operate her photography studio in New York until 1954, when her youngest daughter died. Dorr closed her studio and dedicated herself to photographing mothers and daughters to memorialize her own lost child. During her career, Dorr published four books of her photographs, including In a Blue Moon (1939) and Mothers and Daughters (1954), The Bare Feet (1962), and Of Night and Day (1968). Dorr's work became widely known and critics still view her as one of the greatest photographic artists of the twentieth century. Dorr died in 1988.

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