Sunday, October 10, 2010

Prippy of Influence... Lee Miller

Photographed by Man Ray, Paris ca. 1930 [Source: NYT]

I wrote this post a while back, but thought it was well worth sharing again...

Lee Miller is one of the most fascinating women in history, yet one of the most unknown among my generation. Her boldness, bravery and brains almost distract you from her incredible beauty... I said almost!

Lee's first experience with cameras came at an early age, as a fashion model in New York City during the 1920's. Even though she was one of the most sought after models, her ambition was truly behind the camera.

She moved to Paris, apprenticed with Man Ray,became his muse and took some very famous shots that were accredited to him. Amazing! She bounced back to New York, where she met and married an Egyptian business man before moving together to Cairo... never a dull moment.

But it was really in 1937, when she returned to Europe, that her legacy would begin. Lee fell in love with surrealist painter, Roland Penrose, and was living in England while World War II was raging around her. Rather than giving into her family's pleas for a return to America, she stayed and became a photojournalist capturing the war for Vogue.

Lee Miller photographed women in fire masks in wartime London in 1944. [Source: Telegraph/Lee Miller Archives]

Her photos are haunting, and reflect a feminine sensibility to the violence. In my opinion, her most powerful photo is an image of a Nazi Lieutenant's daughter who committed suicide by drinking poison as allied troops were closing in. Definitely click on the link to see it for yourself...

Here she is posing in Hitler's bathtub... can you even imagine? Thinking about it gives me the chills.

After the war, she battled post-traumatic stress syndrome, returned to England and enveloped herself in the artistic community. I love her story, her great talent, and her passion. She is a true American Beauty.


Whitney said...

This is so interesting...I've never heard of this woman before and just spent 20 minutes Googling her pictures. Not exactly the most restful things to look at before bed but certainly gripping and meaningful.

Terrific post. I'm looking forward to more.

(And thanks very much for your comment on my blog, as well! I love Minetta Tavern too - who wouldn't??)

Aspiring Kennedy said...

dang- that is intense! i can't believe that she took a portrait in his tub. also... i tried to link through to that picture, but it just kept taking me to the general site, and i couldn't find the right one. :(

Prippy Handbook said...

I'm so glad that you guys appreciate this amazing woman, too! She is beyond fascinating - such an amazing story and person.

I fixed the links and you can now connect to another detailed post about her which includes some grim war photos she took, including the one I mention above.

Deanna (Silly Goose Farm) said...

Great post! I've seen some of her work before. Beautiful, insightful and haunting. Isn't it funny how Man Ray got credit for her work? Did you know that there are many theories that Albert Einstein's first wife (Mileva Maric) was the actual source for the Theory of Relativity? Thankfully, we gals have come a long way since then.

Prippy Handbook said...

I had no idea about Mileva Maric - absolutely fascinating. Thank you for sharing!

Makes you wonder who else out there really was the force behind some of the greatest innovations...

And we definitely have come a long way!

VogueOntheRange said...

I like this post! Nice and refreshing to have something that's not thing-centered!