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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.

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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.

 

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