Lee Miller: Musa, artist, model, photographer, the first photojournalist who told the war

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Lee Miller photographed by Man Ray in 1929

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“Elizabeth” Beatrice Brandini

“I looked like an angel out. I saw that. I was a devil, instead, inside. I knew all the pain of the world as a child.” Elizabeth Miller

Free-spirited and unconventional Elizabeth “Lee” Miller was a woman full of talent, sensitive and indomitable … a real modern heroine.

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Lee Miller photographed by Arnold Genthe in 1920

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Lee Miller photographed by George Hoyningen-Huene

Elizabeth “lee” Miller was born in America and as a child developed a passion for photography, both as a model that a pupil for her father, where she learns the secrets and techniques. Twenty years is discovered through the streets of Manhattan by the then editor of Vogue who asks her to become a model. It is immediately photographed by the greatest names of the time, as George Hoyningen-Huene, Horst P. Horst. Her regal look, featuring a classic beauty and androgynous, make her unique and very popular.

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Lee Miller photographed by Arnold Genthe in 1927

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Lee Miller photographed by George Hoyningen-Huene in 1928

Lee Miller is familiar with the lens, she is natural and does’t have problem to appearing naked, because she did since childhood.

But after only two years she gets tired of this role to “doll” and become a photographer, completely reversing the roles. She decides to go to Paris, then the capital of the art world, to learn better techniques of photography and be inspired.

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Lee Miller photographed by Man Ray in 1930

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Lee Miller photographed by Man Ray in 1930

Here the most important meeting, one with Man Ray, photographer and surrealist artist of immense talent, where she became a pupil, muse and lover.

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Lee Miller photographed by Man Ray in 1929

Paris is also the opportunity to meet artists and geniuses who become friends and favorite subjects of her portraits, such as Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Jean Cocteau…


Lee Miller photographed by George Hoyningen-Huene in 1930


Lee Miller photographed by Man Ray 

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Lee Miller photographed by Man Ray 

But even Paris seems not to be the final docking, in fact leave Man Ray and the French capital, to return to America where she open a photography studio in New York. We are in 1932. Then will be the turn of Egypt, where she will lead a bourgeois and retreat life with her first husband and where to give life to her best pictures. Then back to Paris and London, here, with her second husband, the surrealist artist Roland Penrose, the outbreak of World War II to become a photojournalist, following the US Army.

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Pictures of Lee Miller, 1950


Pictures of Lee Miller, 1945

Lee Miller is not frightened by the war and its horrors, but indeed is herself who asked to be sent to the front as a war photographer. She is the first woman photographer to get to Dachau, here she will achieve images of terror and death, no victimization, but she will be profoundly affected for the rest of her life.

The last chapter of her existence will be marked by the birth of a child, at forty, but also from loneliness and depression. In England will leave the art to devote to the kitchen. Her sweet will win the international award, because here is not only passion, but also talent and perfectionism, as always. She will die in 70 years of an incurable disease.


Pictures of Lee Miller, 1945

Lee Miller has intensely lived many lives. She puts poetry in everything she did. In fashion photos, in which she was a perfect and modern model, but also as a photographer, whose realistic and poetic images are continuous inspiration. Finally in the devastating photos of the war, that will remain imprinted in our minds, in order not to forget.

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Lee today.., by Beatrice Brandini

But especially Lee Miller was an example of a free woman.


Lee Miller

Magnificent Lee, no one will ever forget.

Good life to all!




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