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Guide to the Bill Cunningham Collection
 MS 3137

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on July 01, 2019
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Biographical / Historical

Roberta C. Wolfe-Baer (1925-2016) was an artist and art teacher who lived her later life in Angola, NY. She attended Albright Knox Art School from 1943-1946 and taught art at the high school level from 1948-1955. In 1965 she started an art gallery and studio in her home in Angola, where she taught daily art classes and displayed her artwork until 2010. Bill Cunningham's notes seem to suggest that Wolfe-Baer was particularly fond of the color orange, using it in her palette and often in her choice of clothing, and leading him to call her affectionately "the orange one." Cunningham seems to have met her in New York when he was still maintaining fashion design business. His letters in this collection also refer to a "Neva," who is no doubt Wolfe-Baer's mother, Neva Wolfe.

Bill Cunningham (1929-2016) was born in Boston. After dropping out of Harvard in 1948, he moved to New York City, where he lived in the Carnegie Hall apartments and began his business designing hats under the name "William J." He closed the shop in 1962. By the late 1970s, he had earned a reputation for his street and fashion photography, leading to regular features in the New York Times and photo spreads in magazines such as Details.