100 images by one of the twentieth-century’s most remarkable photographers, from impactful portraits to extraordinary perspectives on places and objects.
Written and selected by Antony Penrose, Miller’s son and co-founder of the Lee Miller Archives, Surrealist Lee Miller is a stunning presentation of 100 of her most remarkable surrealism-suffused images. Presented in an elegant compact format and contextualised by an engaging extended essay, this really is the perfect gift for dedicated devotees of surrealism, and for photography lovers more broadly - Miller’s unique eye and style never fails to provoke thought and arouse new ways of seeing the world.
In an essay that gives an excellent overview of Miller’s life and work, Penrose observes that “she unknowingly had been a surrealist at home in America before the movement had a name. Right from the beginning she chose to live her life to her own standards.” After experiencing a number of tragedies in childhood and young womanhood, Miller went to Paris in 1925. “Baby - I’m HOME!” she rejoiced on arrival, and here immersed herself in student life, with a chance encounter after almost being run over leading to her modelling for Vogue. Through Vogue’s chief photographer Miller met Man Ray and become his model, muse and student. Together they invented the inimitable solarisation technique.
In Paris Miller attracted many admirers besides Ray, among them the artists Max Ernst and Paul Éluard, and writer and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. Later Picasso became enamoured with her, too. Miller’s portraits of many of these individuals appear in this book - we see a smitten Picasso gazing at Lee in his Paris studio; Paul Delvaux and René Magritte captured, dynamically, in Belgium; the artist Dora Maar (Picasso's Weeping Woman) pictured in sharply defiant profile. One of my favourite Miller photos is here too - a playful perspective portrait of Max Ernst as a jolly, paternal giant with a tiny thigh-high Dorothea Tanning waggling her fist aloft that serves as a perfect representation of surrealist mischievousness. There are iconic self-portraits too, including Miller pictured in Hitler’s bathtub, along with some of her most affecting shots of war atrocities.
See also Grim Glory: Lee Miller’s Britain at War - taken together, these two books present a fine overview of Miller’s extraordinary body of work.
Surrealist before she knew of the movement Lee Miller was ‘caustically brilliant, yet totally loyal, unpretentious, human and intolerant of sham.
She was a consummate artist and a consummate clown; at once an upstate New York hick and cosmopolitan grande dame; a cold, soignée fashion model and a hoyden… She was a mechanical ‘tinker’, in the sense that her friend [the artist] Alexander Calder once called himself ‘just a tinker’. She was the nearest thing I knew to a mid-20th century renaissance woman’ described David E. Scherman, LIFE photographer and her very close friend. Lee Miller was one of the most original photographic artists of the 20th century, her Surrealist eye informed everything she did. Her work presents the world in a way that encourages us to view it in a different manner.
Written and selected by her son Antony Penrose, co-founder of the Lee Miller Archives, author of the highly acclaimed biography Lives of Lee Miller and editor of Lee Miller’s War. He has been researching, lecturing and working towards conserving the legacy of his mother’s material for 40 years. These 100 full page images from throughout Lee Miller’s life are an attestation to her way of seeing.
|Publication date:||28th February 2019|
|Publisher:||Lee Miller Archives an imprint of Lee Miller Archives Publishing|