Happy Mothers’ Day!
I’ve discovered someone fascinating today and it’s all down to my good ole Mum. I was going to write a post on her favourite artist, being the doting daughter I am, she umm-ed and err-ed before saying “oh, I just remembered, have you heard of Lee Miller..?”
I had not, but now I’ve looked into her life and she was an absolutely fascinating model, muse, photographer and Surrealist.
Miller by Man Ray.
The reason Mother mentioned her is that the house she came to settle in for the last thirty-something years of her life is just up the road from us in East Sussex, near Lewes and it’s open to the public from the 1st of April.
Lee Miller and Surrealist writer and second husband Roland Penrose came to Farley Farm House in 1949, and it became an unlikely meeting place for many leading Modern Artists such as Picasso, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Joan Miro, Richard Hamilton…the list goes on… The house is permanently filled with works of art by these and many other big names, and has been preserved “as if Miller has just popped out to gather some vegetables”.
A model for Vogue in 1927 at just twenty years old, leaving New York for Paris at twenty-two to become Man Ray’s assistant-come-muse, Elizabeth Lee Miller began her artistic career at the centre of the Surrealist movement. She moved back to New York in 1932 at the age of twenty-five to open her own studio and went on to be a portrait, travel and war photographer.
In 1937 on a trap to Paris, Miller met Roland Penrose and began to attend the Surrealist group, becoming a model for Pablo Picasso, as well as her already close friend Man Ray.
In 1947 after three harrowing years spent as a photojournalist in Second World War Germany and Eastern Europe, Miller finally married and settled with Penrose in England where she contributed to his biographies of Man Ray, Miro, Picasso and Tapies.
Here are a few beautiful photographs taken of Miller by Man Ray and for Vogue, followed by her own works…
‘Lee Miller’s Neck’ by Man Ray.
‘Lee Miller in Hitler’s Bathtub’ controversial image for Vogue.
Picasso by Miller.
Charlie Chaplin by Lee Miller.
Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning – have a look at her, personally I think she was an absolutely incredible painter – by Lee Miller.
Women with fire masks, Downshire Hill, London, 1941, Lee Miller.
Woman with hand on head, 1931, Lee Miller.
Nude Bent Forward, 1930, Lee Miller.
…You can tell from ‘Nude-‘ that she worked with Man Ray, just look at the similarity in their works….
So anyway, I now have one trip planned for Easter, I’m going to avoid the London crowds and instead head to a lovely farmhouse to see some world-renowned artists.
Not only can Miller and the Surrealists’ work be seen at the house, this year the first exhibition, Two Painters and a Sculptor, features the wonderful abstract painter David Armitage, emerging Spanish artist Samuel Paradela and Michael Cooper who works with bronze, silver, marble and stone. Plenty!!
Stunning photographs and an amazing life: Lee Miller, Man Ray’s secret muse.