Monday, November 17, 2008

Lee Miller: Iconic Artist, Model, and Muse of the 20's



Since she is the inspiration behind my blog header, I figured it was about time to feature images of/by the beautiful, talented Lee Miller here on Nothing Elegant. Miller is famous for being one of Picasso's muses, as well as being the lover and favorite model of Surrealist photographer Man-Ray. Miller was an iconic flapper, and was featured in a famous illustration by Georges Lepape on the March 1927 issue of Vogue.


[Updated] I almost forgot: She was also the first real woman to appear in a Kotex ad for women's menstrual products!


Images of Lee Miller:



Miller herself was also a talented experimental photographer, and she worked in fashion photography as well as documentary photography during World War I.



According to Laird Borrelli: "Countless models have had their careers promoted in the pages of Condé Nast magazines. Far fewer can claim to have been discovered by the company’s founder and namesake himself.


But the day in 1927 that Mr. Nast pulled the 20-year-old Lee Miller from the path of an oncoming car, her career took off.The blond, blue-eyed Valkyrie from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was photographed for Vogue by Edward Steichen, who in turn wrote her a letter of introduction to Man Ray, with whom she would study and have a tempestuous affair.



The artist wasn’t her only famous lover; Charlie Chaplin, too, is rumored to be on the list. While Miller was in Paris, Jean Cocteau cast her as an armless statue in his movie Le Sang d’un Poète, Pablo Picasso painted her several times (she, in turn, took several photographs of him), and a glass manufacturer cast a champagne goblet from her breast.



Her allure was captured in the words of the photojournalist John Phillips, who called her “an American free spirit wrapped in the body of a Greek goddess.” And in fact, she was a woman of as much substance as style.



In London at the outbreak of World War II, she ignored evacuation orders to photograph the times for Vogue. As a correspondent for the U.S. Army, she shot the siege of Saint-Malo and the liberations of Buchenwald, Dachau, and Paris. "


[Man Ray on the left]
After the war, she gradually abandoned her camera for a rural life in East Sussex, England, as the wife of artist and biographer Sir Roland Penrose. But her exploits live on in Carolyn Burke’s new biography, Lee Miller: A Life (Knopf).




Some of her own photographs taken in Paris:
















13 comments:

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

I was lucky enough to see the Lee Miller exhibition at the museum in San Francisco. It was awesome. I now have to go and read the bio by Carolyn Burke.

[Tara] said...

elizabeth -- you are very lucky!! I wish I had been able to see it...

Paul Pincus said...

a truly singular talent and great beauty! a complete original.

amazing post, tara!

[Tara] said...

paul -- you are TOO kind. I do love her, and admire her multi-faceted persona...not just a beauty or a muse, but a creator herself.

Miss Karen said...

I adore Lee Miller! I learned about her via my slight Man Ray obsession and thought she was such a fascinating person. I really can't wait to read this new biography.

And I always thought she looked so contemporary, some of these images look as though they could have been taken today!

[Tara] said...

karen -- I agree. she was so sleek and refined. she was definitely ahead of her time in so many ways (much like Man Ray as well!)

[Tara] said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ana b. said...

What a wonderful post! I love this mini-biography and really appreciate the effort you put in. I've learnt so much! I'm so excited to have discovered your blog and will put you on my link list. Another blog to love!

[Tara] said...

ana -- thank you so much for visiting me. I'm glad you enjoyed the Miller post!

michiko said...

Thank you for introducing me to this amazing woman. Gorgeous photos!

[Tara] said...

michiko -- of course!! Yes, the photos of her (and by her) are stunning. Such an amazing woman...

Molly said...

There was an article about Lee Miller in the Sunday New York Times Magazine a few months ago (maybe a year ago now?). I was fascinated by her life and work. There was actually a picture of her in the article depicting a trip she made to Hitler's apartment after his death. In the photo, she is bathing in his bathtub!

Love your blog!

ambika said...

I'm going to track down that bio. She sounds fascinating.