Monday, February 19, 2007

Lee Miller

( 'Portrait of space'Near Siwa Egypt)

Lee Miller seems to have had more lives than the average Buddhist Master. As a child I remember my Grandmother pointing out a rather elegant woman in Eastbourne as Lady Penrose. It was only many years later I realised that was Lee Miller the photographer.

Miller went from sought after model to Surrealist muse, to surrealist photographer to fashion photographer to war correspondent.

(Lee Miller by Man Ray)

As well as her fashion work, she photographed in Egypt after she married Aziz Eloui Bey and became fascinated with long distance desert travel (think The English Patient). In Paris she was friends with, and often muse to, Breton, Picasso (who painted her several times), Jean Cocteau, Max Ernst and others, as well as a recurring subject of Many Ray's camera. She also went on to set up her own studio in Paris.

(Fire Masks - worn as protection from incendiary bombs)

On the outbreak of war she found herself in London where she worked as a correspondent for Vogue, covering the Blitz and wartime Britain. Shortly after D-Day she travelled as a war correspondent/combat photographer to France, covering the siege of St. Malo, the liberation of Paris, on to Frankfurt and Leipzig and, memorably, the liberation of Buchenwald and Dachau, finishing up at Hitlers lair in Bavaria

(Dead SS Guard floating in canal Dachau)

After the war she married Roland Penrose - who she had known from Paris- having divorced Bey. Penrose was just about the only English Surrealist (is there a more unlikely name for a surrealist than his?) and she eventually settled with him on a farm in Sussex which became a gathering place for everyone from Picasso to Henry Moore to Man Ray.

(The Shadow of the Great PyramidEgypt)

Miller's photography at this point wasn't terribly well known beyond the publications it appeared in. It was only in later years that her son Anthony brought much of it to light again and her varied career - and her photography - became more widely known.

There are a number of good books of her work out there Lee Miller's War, The Lives of Lee Miller etc - as well as a good biography.

(In Hitler's bath, Munich)


Eric Hancock said...

Interesting. Love that first photo.

Nanny Joan said...

She was a pretty amazing woman. I love her work