Lee Miller Nude

I’ve glossed over the importance of Lee Miller and Man Ray’s collaboration in my introductory post to Lee Miller. She did not practically invent the photographic process of solarisation as I previously stated.  She did, after all, seek an apprenticeship with Man Ray. 

Victoria & Albert Museum reports in its chronology (Surrealist Paris 1929 – 1932) of her life:

She learned from one of the greatest modern photographers, mastering lighting, printing and the process of ‘solarization’ – a way of reversing highlights into blacks – they discovered together. 

Nude bent forward, about 1930. Lee Miller. © 2007 Lee Miller Archives via V&A

Nude bent forward, about 1930. Lee Miller. © 2007 Lee Miller Archives via V&A

Lee Miller was raped at age seven while staying with a family friend in Brooklyn, contracted gonorrhea and endured years of  painful treatment. Her son, Antony Penrose, said this made her a surrealist before she ever went to Paris. I guess she kept a subconscious sense of imagery, considering she was constantly photographed in the nude by her amatuer photographer father.

Alright but that doesn’t have anything to do with the importance of Lee Miller and Man Ray’s collaboration to the art world other than my own unexpected juxtaposition of surrealism.


NOTE:  Victoria and Albert reports Lee Miller created some of the most radical photographs of the nude of the Surrealist epoch – nudes which have been described as transforming the female torso into a phallus.





Illustrated by Georges Lepape

I have this graphic in Media files because I was going to use it on yesterday’s post, but didn’t. I’m posting it today as an interlude to my next Lee Miller post. Did I mention she was born in my hometown of Poughkeepsie, New York? 

Lee Miller as illustrated by Georges Lepape for Vogue, March 15, 1927. One of Vogue's most recognized covers to date.

Lee Miller as illustrated by Georges Lepape for Vogue, March 15, 1927. One of Vogue’s most recognized covers to date.


Lee Miller as illustrated by Georges Lepape for Vogue, March 15, 1927.

One of Vogue’s most recognized covers to date.


Les Larmes


Condé Nast rescued Lee Miller from being run over by a truck in Manhattan. The near-miss led to a Vogue cover illustration on March 15, 1927  by George Lepape. For the next two years she was one of the most sought after fashion models in New York. Scandal ensued after photographer Edward Steichen used her photo for a Kotex Menstrual Pad advertisement. Lee Miller was only 21 years old when her modeling career ended. 

Lee Miller by Man Ray 1930

Lee Miller by Man Ray 1930

Her father was an engineer, inventor and businessman. He introduced Lee and her brother to photography at an early age. She was her dad’s model and sometimes posed in the nude when she was a teenager. He taught her the technical aspects of art of photography.

After the Kotex debacle she decided to go to Paris to be an apprentice for Man Ray without him knowing it. He insisted he didn’t take students. Soon after, though, she became his model and co-collaborator, as well as his lover and muse. She opened her own photographic studio, often taking over Man Ray’s fashion assignments to enable him to concentrate on his painting. In fact, some of her photos were actually attributed to him.

She practically invented the photographic process of solarisation and together they worked  to develop the technique.

Amongst her circle of friends in the surrealist movement were Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau and the poet, Paul Éluard. (April is National Poetry Month according to the Academy of American Poets. Link is to his poetry via PoemHunter.com)

Glass tears (Les Larmes) Man Ray 1932

Glass tears (Les Larmes) Man Ray 1932

It was a horrible break-up. She saw sexual exclusivity as claustrophobic and he was wildly jealous. She left Man Ray in 1932 to return to New York to open a portrait and commercial photography studio. He created multiple works in an attempt to “break her up” as a revenge on a lover who left him.  The model in Glass Tears (Les Larmes) is a fashion mannequin with glass bead tears on the cheeks. 

Lee Miller went on to lead an extraordinary life. At the outbreak of World War II, she was living in London with Roland Penrose  (whom she later married) when the bombing of the city began.

Ignoring pleas from friends and family to return to the U.S., she embarked on a new career in photojournalism as the official war photographer for Vogue, documenting the Blitz. Miller was accredited into the U.S. Army as a war correspondent for Condé Nast Publications in December 1942.


NOTE: Neither of these photos are by Lee Miller but, I wanted to give Man Ray a hat tip because I first knew of her existence after reading the Glass Tears (Les Larmes) photo description on WikiPaintings.


Les Crustacés

Let’s go back to the original Brain Pickings link from a month ago. Maria Popova had said, “And for a chuckle, consider the cancer — how amusing to reckon that Dalí, despite his culinary credentials, either didn’t know or chose to artistically disregard the difference between a crab and a lobster.”

If you follow the link you’ll discover that Dalí wrote and illustrated a cookbook of 136 recipes.

Looking for maybe a recipe or two, I found the Bookery Cook’s blog post with quite a few of his illustrations. He didn’t actually write it, or rather, they weren’t his recipes. Sort of a compilation of dishes he liked, similar to his illustrated selection of essays from Michel de Montaigne.

Les Diners de Gala (jacket cover) Salvador Dalí 1971

Les Diners de Gala (jacket cover) Salvador Dalí 1971

I like the Escher-esque chef-killing-a-frog sequence along the dustjacket bottom, but that’s off-topic. Here’s something about the cookbook:

In 1973 Les Diners de Gala (Gala’s Diner) was published as a collaboration between Dali and a “secret” chef in collaboration with some of the top French restaurants of the time.

In true Dali fashion, Les Diners de Gala moves between ‘sado-masochistic pleasure’, ‘acute sybaritism’, religious ecstasy, and anesthetic asceticism.

Index. Les Diners de Gala, 1973   Salvador Dali

Index. Les Diners de Gala, 1973 Salvador Dali

There is only one recipe on the post. I’ll hazard a guess to say it is from 10. Les “je mange GALA”.  

The Casanova Cocktail.  

“This is quite appropriate when circumstances such as exhaustion, overwork or simple excess sobriety are calling for a pick-me-up. Here is a well-tested recipe to fit the bill. Let us stress the advantage of this particular pep-up concoction is that one doesn’t have to make a sour face that usually accompanies the absorption of a remedy”

The juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon bitters
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
4 tablespoons of brandy
2 tablespoons of old brandy (vieille cure)
1 pinch of cayenne pepper

At the bottom of a glass, combined the pepper and ginger.
Pour the bitters on top, then brandy and vielle cure.
Refrigerate, or even put in the freezer.

Thirty minutes later, remove from the freezer and stir in the juice of the orange into the glass.. Drink… and wait for the effect. It is rather speedy. 


NOTE: As to Maria Popova’s artistically disregarded observation, I think Dalí simply preferred lobster to crab. Thanks again to Lorna Wood for the original link




The Tree is Key

I almost think Maecenas Press-Random House commissioned Dalí to illustrate its ALICE IN WONDERLAND publication because of Chapter VII: A Mad Tea Party. The artist was fairly well-esteemed by 1969, but still.

Lewis Carroll plays with accepted notions of time throughout the novel but most exaggeratedly in the exchange between the Hatter and Alice over (a personified) Time being someone who you shouldn’t quarrel with or it would always be six o’clock and time for tea.

Earlier in the chapter, the March Hare had tried to fix the Hatter’s calendar-watch with butter but it was still broken so the Hare dipped it into a cup of tea. Which brings us round to Dalí’s soft watch with a butterfly-tree through it…

"Mad Tea Party" Salvador Dalí. 1968

“Mad Tea Party” Salvador Dalí. 1968

Not that the tree has anything to do with the March Hare attempting to fix the Hatter’s watch with butter. The rest of supposititious tea-party turns into one aggravating riddle after another, so she leaves in a huff. 

“At any rate I’ll never go THERE again!” said Alice as she picked her way through the wood. “It’s the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life!”

After she makes that declaration toward the end of the chapter, she notices a tree has a door so she opens it and finds herself once again in the long hall of Chapter I: Down the Rabbit-Hole.

The golden key is still on the glass table so she nibbles on the mushroom (she had kept in her pocket) until she was about one-foot tall and, at last, was able to walk through the small passage into the beautiful garden with bright flower-beds and cool fountains.

The butterfly was a recurring element in Dalí’s work and is a symbol of the renewal that happened to Alice after she opens the door.


NOTE: Dalí had said his (famed) soft watches were not inspired by Einstein’s theory of relativity, but by the surrealist perception of a Camembert cheese melting in the sun. Here the soft watch has more to do with Lewis Carroll’s distortion of the space-time continuum.




Suite of Diamonds

For the Queen of Hearts’s royal procession in Chapter VIII of ALICE IN WONDERLAND, the Knave of Hearts carries the King’s crown on a crimson velvet cushion. Yet, in the chapter illustration by Salvador Dalí, there is neither a King or a Knave. Instead, there stands the Jack of Diamonds with a Pinocchio nose supported by a crutch.

I think Jack knows he is lying about being in the Queen’s Croquet Grounds and Dalí is the crutch that allows him to be there. I can only speculate as to where the King and Knave have wandered off, or why the Queen and Jack’s personified shadows seem to be leaning awfully close to each other.

Maecenas Press-Random House commissioned Dalí for 12 chapter illustrations and a cover in 1969, which they distributed as a book of the month. According to Maria Popova in her post about it, the volume went on to become one of the most sought-after Dalí suites of all time.

"The Queen's Croquet Ground" Salvador Dalí 1969

“The Queen’s Croquet Ground” Salvador Dalí 1969

ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, as Lewis Carroll originally titled his novel, was published in 1854 with illustrations by John Tenniel. My post, Descends into Chaos, features his illustration for Chapter VIII titled “Alice with a croquet flamingo.”

Which brings me to a shout-out for Pia Savage. In comments on the post, she was disguised as “tani” and led me down the rabbit hole to her short-lived niche blog, “The Secret Life of Doormen & Contractors: The murky world of luxe Manhattan Coops.”

I can’t remember what was going on at time, it was this past November, after all, but her comment may have been a sarcastic reference to the Facebook nation.


NOTE: Pia’s personal blog is without theme other than originality of thought. Courting Destiny will be 10 years old come August 2014. 



dalimontaigne2Sometimes I feel stupidly illiterate because I know how much I don’t know about literature. Take, for example, Michel de Montaigne. I had no idea who he was until I clicked through (see previous post) to Maria Popova’s “discovery of Salvador Dalí’s little-known and lovely 1947 illustrations for the essays of Montaigne.”  (Hat tip, again, to Lorna Wood for sharing the Brain Pickings link.)

As opposed to memoirists or diarists, Montaigne developed the genre of personal essay in the late 16th century.

Project Gutenberg has a complete 1877 Essays translated by Charles Cotton. The same is available on a free Kindle download from Popova’s post, which I did, but I like the Gutenberg link better because it’s easier to navigate.

I have to read Montaigne’s book from the beginning before I delve into his thought process. There’s an essay entitled “That to Study Philosophy is to Learn to Die” (Book The First, Chapter XIX) which Dalí either drew more pictures of than for other essays, or Popova just included more of them on her post.

"That to Study Philosphy is to Learn to Die" Salvadore Dalí 1947

“That to Study Philosphy is to Learn to Die” Salvadore Dalí 1947

Dalí’s depiction of death is a Dürer-esque apocalyptic horseman who is still in existence today. The Thinker sitting on a dodecahedron is perhaps pondering FOUR BOOKS ON MEASUREMENT – Dürer’s work on geometric proportions. Montaigne’s original publication included illustrations and the above may have been adapted from one of them (artist unknown.)


From the Preface of the 1877 edition, Edited by William Carew Hazlitt:

Of all egotists, Montaigne, if not the greatest, was the most fascinating, because, perhaps, he was the least affected and most truthful. What he did, and what he had professed to do, was to dissect his mind, and show us, as best he could, how it was made, and what relation it bore to external objects. He investigated his mental structure as a schoolboy pulls his watch to pieces, to examine the mechanism of the works; and the result, accompanied by illustrations abounding with originality and force, he delivered to his fellow-men in a book.




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