Friday, August 12, 2011

Lee Miller, Muse and Beyond

There is currently an exhibit called "Man Ray, Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism" at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts (it runs through Dec. 4). These two photographers shared a romance and a photo studio from 1929 to 1932, and from the white heat and ashes rose some incredible images that changed the face of photography. Miller lived the glamorous life of a fashion model in New York City during the 1920s, but she ultimately found her inspiration behind the camera. She met Man Ray soon after moving to Paris in the late '20s, and the two went on to perfect solarization. 
A solarized portrait of Lee Miller by Man Ray.
A famous Man Ray shot of Miller. 
Her swan-like neck, perfectly captured by Man Ray. 
Being a model, Miller had her beauty captured by other famous photographers. George Hoyningen-Huene took this one in 1928.

In this 1931 photo, shot by the famous Horst, Miller wears Lanvin. 
Miller's likeness was also distilled, this time in oil on canvas, by Pablo Picasso in 1937. She also inspired Joseph Cornell to create a mixed-media piece named after her. Miller went on to have an illustrious career as a photographer during World War II; she was one of only two women known to have photographed combat (the other was Margaret Bourke-White). However, from this experience she received psychic wounds that never quite healed. She retired early to a life of relative domesticity in the English countryside, punctuated by problems with drink.  


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