Art of Lee Miller

Haworth-Booth, Mark. The Art of Lee Miller. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.

Reason read browsed: I was fascinated by Lee Miller’s art after reading Lives of the Muse by Francine Prose.

Lee Miller was a beautiful woman. She spent a great deal of time in front of the camera, first as a model for her father and then as a muse for countless others. But it is Miller’s work behind the camera that is the most captivating. There is no doubt in my mind she was ahead of her time as photographer. She liked to take chances. This is especially apparent when she went to Germany to photo-journal the events of World War II. For a woman to be in the thick of it is one thing. Hundreds of women contributed to the war effort by being nurses and so forth. But for a woman to capture the haunting and often disturbing pictures that Miller did, it’s quite another. She oscillated between tongue-in-cheek and shocking. Her photography gently fanned over the ruins of burnt out buildings, horrific operations and ladies’ fashions. “Remington Silent” is one of my favorites if for nothing more than the subliminal message Miller sends. Her expose in Vogue (New York, 1945) screams absurdity as she compares German children to the burned bones of prisoners…
However, I feel this need to surprise has always been there (find the picture of the severed breast from a radical mastectomy to see what I mean). Even in her portraits Miller had the ability to send mixed messages.

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