A beautiful and equally intelligent woman, a free and cosmopolitan surrealist artist, muse of Man Ray, great friend of Picasso and Jean Cocteau. Elizabeth, known as Lee Miller, alias Lady Penrose, was born in New York in 1907 and died in Sussex in 1977. She has pursued several careers: model, photographer, war photojournalist, cook and adventurer, all with great success.
Large exhibition “Lee Miller. Photographer and surrealist”, organized by Next Expo in collaboration with ONO Arte Contemporanea. from Saturday 9 September to Sunday 7 January in the ancient kitchens of the Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi (piazza Principe Amedeo 7, Nichelino; Tue-Fri 10.00-17.30, Sat-Sun 10.00-18.30, full price from 15.70 euros, Mostraleemiller.it).
One hundred black-and-white photographs from the Lee Miller Archive are arranged chronologically and thematically into four large series, all of which feature the artist behind or in front of the lens.
“It’s difficult to talk about a woman of this caliber: her intimacy is complex, her biography is stormy, her activities are very extensive. With this exhibition and the selection of works that comprise it, we have tried to restore who Lee Miller was, but above all his vision, unique in the history of photography of the last century,” explains curator Vittoria Mainoldi.
After Vivian Maier, Frida Halo and Marilyn Monroe, Next Expo continues the series dedicated to the great women of the last century. “The exhibition opens in conjunction with the release of the Lee Miller biopic starring Kate Winslet, scheduled for the Toronto International Film Festival (September 7 to 17),” adds Lara Martinetto, public relations manager for Next Expo. The film is based on the biography The Lives of Lee Miller, written by his son Anthony Penrose, who runs the archive and helped create the exhibition. It all started with a random episode. One day in 1927 in New York, Lee Miller risked being hit while crossing the street, she was saved by a passer-by, it was Condé Nast, the publisher of Vogue: he was so captivated by her beauty that he dedicated the cover of Vogue “to her. Her modeling career , documented by iconic shots at the opening of the exhibition, soon became insufficient for her: “I prefer to photograph than to be photographed,” she declared. In 1929, she moved to Paris, where she met Man Ray, was his muse and lover, and collaborated in his studio, and then opened her own. This is his surreal season, characterized by shots bathed in a mysterious and deep light that brings to the fore objects and small details full of meaning, projecting scenes and portraits into a dreamlike and unconscious dimension. “Lee Miller was essentially “a surrealist before the movement had a name. As a child, her rebellious nature made her challenge everything. She rebelled against social restrictions and the dullness of the bourgeois life that surrounded her, searching for something more exciting and meaningful,” explains her son Antony . In 1932 he returned to New York, hosting two exhibitions at the famous Julien Levy Gallery. In 1934, she met and married businessman Aziz Eloui Bey and moved with him to Egypt, where, between desert excursions, safaris and visits to Cairo, she created enchanting still lifes and landscapes: abandoned or uninhabited areas, temples, ruins, glimpses of expanses of sand , visible through the crack of a mosquito net, become places of a restless and tormented soul. In 1937, back in Paris, she met Roland Penrose, a British artist and poet, with whom she married and had a son. Together with him, he settled in London and traveled around Europe, before the start of the war he signed extraordinary portraits of Pablo Picasso, Dora Maar, Man Ray, Charlie Chaplin (with a chandelier on his head) and countless other artist friends, as well as several ironic shots in which she immortalizes her daily life with irony and ease, for example, in the images of her husband at home, sick with a scarf. At the outbreak of the war, she returned to New York, left with journalist Davis Sherman, a correspondent for Life, and became a war photojournalist in Europe for Vogue, an experience that deeply marked and shocked her and led her to write some of the most iconic images of his career, terrible images, but in which he manages to capture the radiance of humanity that persists even in the darkest moments. Close-up of a man in a gas mask (in fact Sherman himself), piles of dead prisoners in the concentration camps of Dachau and Buchenwald, scenes of the liberation of Paris, battles in Luxembourg and Alsace, the siege of Saint-Malo, right up to the famous self-portrait in the bathtub of Hitler’s apartment in Munich, created shortly after after the death of the Fuhrer. “This is the season in which it loses its lightness. These reports are accompanied by didactic texts written by him to fully understand the brutality of the situation, some of which are on display. Returning to America, she withdrew from public life, became a mother, became interested in cooking and died of cancer in 1977,” adds Lara Martinetto. At the closing of the exhibition, which benefits from the patronage of Emergency, a rare and moving video of the life of Lee Miller is presented.