Noskowiak, Sonya (1900–1975)

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Noskowiak, Sonya (1900–1975)

German-born photographer of portraits, still lifes, landscapes, and architecture. Born in Leipzig, Germany, on November 25, 1900; died in Greenbrae, California, in April 1975.

Born in Leipzig, Germany, photographer Sonya Noskowiak spent her early years in Valparaiso, Chile, then emigrated with her family to Sacramento, California, around 1915. In the late 1920s, while she was employed as a receptionist in the studio of photographer Johan Hagemeyer in Carmel, California, she made the acquaintance of Edward Weston, with whom she subsequently had both a personal and professional relationship. She was a founding member of his Group f/64, and also contributed to its first exhibition in 1932, held at the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco.

In 1935, Noskowiak went out on her own, opening a studio in San Francisco where she specialized in portraits and fashion layouts. (Among some of her best-known portraits are those of Jean Charlot, Martha Graham , and John Steinbeck.) During the 1930s and 1940s, she worked for the Works Projects Administration (WPA), photographing historical architecture in various locations and identifying and recording geometric forms in the industrial landscape. In 1940, she did a stint photographing for the Oakland Army Base.

Noskowiak, who won a prize at the annual exhibition of the San Francisco Society of Women Artists in 1936, was represented in the exhibition entitled "Scenes from San Francisco," held at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1939. In 1965, ten years before her death, her work was included in a WPA exhibition at the Oakland Museum, in Oakland, California.


Rosenblum, Naomi. A History of Women Photographers. NY: Abbeville Press, 1994.