edited by Victoria Noel-Johnson.Read more
Lee Miller not only as Man Ray’s muse, but above all as a professional in her own right.
Model, photographer, muse, the first female war correspondent to report the horrors of the concentration camps liberated by American troops, and twentieth-century icon. Lee Miller was all this and much more.
She went through life with passion and determination and life repaid her with love and friends, but also with pain and posthumous, or at least tardy, acknowledgement.
Through approximately 140 photographs by Lee Miller and Man Ray, some objets d’art and video documents, loaned by Lee Miller Archives and Fondazione Marconi, Lee Miller • Man Ray. Fashion - Love - War intends to do justice to this woman as beautiful as she was clever and talented, taking her out of Man Ray’s overpowering shadow, to reveal a deep but complicated relationship more objectively: Man Ray, first her teacher, then lover, and in the end friend. Published on the occasion of the exhibition in Venice, the volume pays suitable homage to Lee Miller, pioneer of surrealism in photography, placing her on a par with Man Ray, whose work tended to overshadow her both during her lifetime and after.
The heart of the project lies the relationship between Lee Miller and Man Ray – which blossomed in Paris in 1929 and ended in 1932 – with a focus on their lives, careers and relationships at that time; it also documents the effect they both had on each other and how it inspired their work, including the photographic solarisation technique Man Ray adopted to the point that shots by Miller were erroneously attributed to Ray. The volume also presents portraits by Man Ray of friends and important protagonists of the artistic period: Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso, Giorgio de Chirico, Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dalí and surrealist shots of Lee Miller in which he seeks to investigate and reveal her soul and torments.
• The volume presents texts by the curator, by Ami Bouhassane (Miller’s grand-daughter) and Anthony Penrose (Miller’s son).
• In spring 2023 the biopic “Lee” will be released onto the cinema circuit. The screenplay is based on the biography by Anthony Penrose The Lives of Lee Miller, dedicated to his mother on the 45th year from her death, with a star-studded cast: Kate Winslet stars as Miller and Jude Law portrays her husband Roland Penrose, while Marion Cotillard plays Solange D’Ayen, the fashion director of ‘Vogue’ France.
Victoria Noel-Johnson is an independent British art historian and curator, specialising in early 20th century European art.