Current Obsession: Lee Miller

I shouldn’t really call the amazing photographer and artist Lee Miller a “Current Obsession” as she’s been an obsession of mine for years.

Born in 1907 in New York and unbelievably beautiful, by her teens she was modeling for Vogue  for the great photographers of the day like Edward Steichen and Hoynigen-Huene. After tiring of this, she moved to Paris where she became the lover, partner and muse of Surrealist photographer and painter Man Ray. She was also his collaborator on many works and is credited by some as being the creator of his groundbreaking solarisation technique (which is still widely referenced today, most notably by fashion photographers Mert and Marcus.)

After spending the 1930’s as a successful photographer in Paris and New York, she became one of the only female war correspondents, sending back dispatches for British Vogue. This culminated in her being the only female photographer and one of the few photojournalists to document the liberation of the concentration camp Buchenwald. Understandably she never really recovered from this experience, and in her later life (when she became a mother and something of a domestic goddess), her solace became cooking, which she did with the same gusto that she did everything else.

This is a truly inspirational woman who packed more into one life than ten people could, who was never hampered by her gender and lived her life with an astonishing bravery and courage. Her life is a who’s who of the 20th century, and her biography is a must-read for anyone interested in art, photography or history. Lover of Picasso, collaborator and muse of Cocteau and Man Ray, Vogue writer and model, an incredible photographer, photojournalist and chef, this is a woman who epitomizes Hemingway’s maxim of “Grace under pressure.”

My favourite autobiography on Lee Miller, is Lee Miller by Carolyn Burke, published by Bloomsbury.  Her work is very strictly copyrighted, so if you would like to learn more about her art, please go to www.leemiller.co.uk. There is also an exhibition of her work, ‘Lee Miller’s Surrealist Eye’ is at Millesgarden, Sweden from 14th November- 14th February, 2010.

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