The exhibition in Arles presents one of the most intense and productive chapters in the professional career of American photographer Lee Miller.
She began her photography career as a model
Between 1932 and 1945, Miller was both a portrait painter, at the head of her own photo studio in New York (1932–1934), a fashion and advertising photographer for perfume and cosmetic brands (1932–1945 ), and war photojournalist, best known for her images of the German concentration camps of Dachau and Buchenwald (1942–1945). Lee Miller began her photography career as a model for American Vogue and Vanity Fair.
A model for Picasso
In 1929, she became the wife and collaborator of Man Ray in Paris. Together, they discover the process of solarization and under their common objective, all the fine flower of the time parades. They love each other. The American accepts to pose for her lover and to play for Cocteau in Le Sang d’un poete; she is no longer just this smooth mannequin of glossy paper. “I was very beautiful. I looked like an angel but inside I was a demon,” she said at the time. A tormented beauty that the artists of the time snatched up, including Picasso who painted it on several occasions.
A studio in Paris
After a year, she runs her own Parisian studio in Montparnasse. In October 1932, she returned to the United States and established Lee Miller Studios Inc. in Manhattan, New York. Despite the crisis, it manages to make a small profit from it during its first year of activity. Lee Miller closed the studio in mid-1934 to move to Egypt with her husband Aziz Eloui Bey. His surreal images from this period are among her most famous, and her extraordinary World War II fashion and combat photography have earned her a place in art history.
A rich career
With a rich career, made of back and forth between these various practices, Miller evolves with ease from one medium to another, and reveals the figure of a photographer concerned about the exchange value of her production. The exhibition explores the workings of a dynamic career, and proposes to enrich the portrait of a personality often reduced to his collaboration with the American artist Man Ray, and his close links with the surrealist movement of the 1920s.