Lee Miller (Primary Title)

Man Ray, American, 1890 - 1976 (Artist)

Gelatin silver print
4 1/8 × 2 7/8 in. (10.5 × 7.3 cm)
Elizabeth “Lee” Miller (1907–1977) grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York, and moved to New York City in 1926 to study at the Art Students League. Her experience modeling for New York fashion photographers like George Hoyningen-Huené and Edward Steichen encouraged her to pursue her own career behind the camera. In May 1929, Miller moved to Paris and became Man Ray’s studio assistant after introducing herself in a nightclub. “I’m Lee Miller,” she declared, “and I’m your new student.” In addition to her work in the darkroom, they also became lovers, and Miller posed for numerous Man Ray photographs, including this 1929 portrait that captures the alluring beauty and radiance of “Lee-Girl,” as she was known to her friends. Miller played a crucial role in developing the Solarization technique with Man Ray after she accidentally exposed negatives in the darkroom to light. The resulting photographs were partially reversed in tone, as seen in Man Ray’s profile portrait of Miller with a halo-like outline as fine as an Italian Renaissance drawing that was first published in 1931 in Modern Photography. This London-based magazine was one of numerous publications that reproduced the artist’s portraits of Miller, even after she left him in 1932 to pursue her own career as a photographer.
Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment
Man Ray: The Paris Years, VMFA, October 30, 2021 – February 21, 2022

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