The Mental Museum

Lee Miller

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Lee Miller was an American photographer from upstate New York. Her determination, her beauty and perhaps her agreeable disposition enabled her to travel. She began her career as a New York City fashion model, on the other side of the camera, photographed by the likes of Edward Steichen and other reputable names. Her first big break was acquainting herself with photographer Man Ray, who took her to Paris to, assumingly, pose as the character of many roles. Through this relationship, among others, she gained the eye of a documentary photographer. She was exposed to a world outside her home in upstate New York, a world far more vast than perhaps she had ever imagined. With the opportunities that came her way, she took the bull by the horns.  She is best known for her surrealist photographs which speak in the language of poetic metaphors. Similar to fashion photography and quite opposite photojournalism, her surrealist work (and her fashion photography work for which she is less known) intentionally and intelligently offer invading objects that occupy her photographic space. In some ways, this is surrealism because it is not true documentary. For better or for worse, it is the manipulated landscape. With surrealism, the power lies in the hands of the photographer rather than in the hands of the scene. Other renoun surrealists are Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali, who took this movement a few steps further and altered his mind far beyond the likes of sanity. With intentional starvation and sleep deprivation and love sick mutiny, Dali’s body and heart became a tool to produce imagery that a ‘healthy’ mind may not encounter. On a similar note, Lee Miller used herself as a tool of expression and access, which can speak, in an artist’s world, as the relationship between artist and muse and muse and artist. Through both artist’s gestures, an image taken by Lee of Picasso staring back at his own female creation suggests perhaps both artists are thoroughly perplexed. Above, however is a surrealist picture of a ripped screen offering a view of a barren desert. Is that a mirror above it?


Written by thementalmuseum

April 11, 2009 at 10:29 pm

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