Lee Miller: Portraits from a Life (英語) ハードカバー – 2002/11/25
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The remarkable and unconventional Lee Miller was one of the twentieth century's most accomplished photographers. At the age of twenty, she was discovered on a New York street by Conde Nast, who instantly decided to put her face on the cover of Vogue. Two years later she left America for Paris to become a photographer herself. There she became the disciple and lover of Man Ray and an intimate of the Paris art world. World War II saw her as Vogue's war correspondent, present at the liberation of Paris and when the Dachau concentration camp was first entered. Her later years were spent in London and at her home on the Sussex downs, where she kept up the many friendships she had made. Miller came into contact with a wide range of people: painters, sculptors, actors, novelists, poets, journalists, musicians, dancers, and leaders in the field of fashion. She photographed them all, and many became close friends. In Lee Miller: Portraits from a Life, the finest of these photographs are shown together for the first time. They include not only perceptive and sympathetic portraits of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Dora Maar, Fred Astaire, Marlene Dietrich, Igor Stravinsky, Yehudi Menuhin, Dylan Thomas, Colette, and a host of others but also pictures of Londoners in the Blitz, of Parisians celebrating their liberation, and of the aftermath of the Third Reich. An exhibition based on this show will be held at the Getty in 2003. 135 duotone photographs.
Richard Calvocoressi is Director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, where he curated the recent, hugely successful exhibition of Lee Miller's work.
With portraits of Chaplin, many of the leading Surrealists, Picasso, Stravinsky, T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Henry Moore and many others, Miller's twin eye Rolleiflex produces a very intimate view of the artistic scene in the middle of the 20th century. Some of the pictures were taken in the artist's studio, some in Miller's own studio, but most show the sitters informally and relaxed in mundane surroundings, weaving the mystery of artistic inspiration into the fabric of daily life. Whatever the context, Miller's portraits show the mark of a great artist, with composition, lighting and atmosphere invariably matched to the personality of the sitter. A great deal of her pictures are quite classical in conception, but many are spiced up with an occasional Surrealist wink.
The war pictures are a different matter. When Miller registers the ravages of this savage conflict, irony makes way for tragic grandeur. For example, the portrait of a Nazi suicide, daughther of the Leipzig Mayor, reconnects with the dramatic clair obscur of Carravaggio. Many of the images of wrens and ordinary service men reveal the quiet determination of people amidst a whirlwind of extreme violence. One of the most impressive pictures of this period, and in a sense an untypical one, depicts a murdered German prison guard floating in a canal bounding the Dachau camp, producing a mixture of the bucolic and the tragic which is very moving.
This book is beautifully produced and is a delight to hold in your hands. The captions that go with the pictures are well written and very informative. I would have wished for a more extensive lead essay by Richard Calvocoressi, but maybe we can find more information elsewhere. Pity also that the UK version of this book sports the Hein Heckroth portrait on its cover, which I do not find one of the most attractive pictures in this collection. But these minor quibbles do not detract for this valuable addition to my library.