Synopses & Reviews
A trenchant yet sympathetic portrait of Lee Miller, one of the iconic faces and careers of the twentieth century.
Carolyn Burke reveals Miller as a multifaceted woman: both model and photographer, muse and reporter, sexual adventurer and mother, and, in later years, gourmet cook--the last of the many dramatic transformations she underwent during her lifetime. A sleek blond bombshell, Miller was part of a glamorous circle in New York and Paris in the 1920s and 1930s as a leading Vogue model, close to Edward Steichen, Charlie Chaplin, Jean Cocteau, and Pablo Picasso. Then, during World War II, she became a war correspondent--one of the first women to do so--shooting harrowing images of a devastated Europe, entering Dachau with the Allied troops, posing in Hitler's bathtub.
Burke examines Miller's troubled personal life, from the unsettling photo sessions during which Miller, both as a child and as a young woman, posed nude for her father, to her crucial affair with artist-photographer Man Ray, to her unconventional marriages. And through Miller's body of work, Burke explores the photographer's journey from object to subject; her eye for form, pattern, and light; and the powerful emotion behind each of her images.
A lushly illustrated story of art and beauty, sex and power, Modernism and Surrealism, independence and collaboration, Lee Miller: A Life is an astute study of a fascinating, yet enigmatic, cultural figure.
“If, like Auntie Mame, you believe that 'Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death,' you'll surely want to read Carolyn Burke's delightful biography of Lee Miller. . . . Delightful, meticulously researched, fascinating.… Millers life had many phases, all of them interesting, and Burke captures them in [this] fine biography.” New York Times
“Lee Miller went through life as a serial dazzler, adopting and shedding…guises a chameleon might envy.”—Janet Maslin, New York Times
Lee Millers life embodied all the contradictions and complications of the twentieth century: a model and photographer, muse and reporter, sexual adventurer and domestic goddess, she was also America's first female war correspondent. Carolyn Burke, a biographer and art critic, here reveals how the muse who inspired Man Ray, Cocteau, and Picasso could be the same person who unflinchingly photographed the horrors of Buchenwald and Dachau. Burke captures all the verve and energy of Millers life: from her early childhood trauma to her stint as a Vogue model and art-world ingénue, from her harrowing years as a war correspondent to her unconventional marriages and passion for gourmet cooking. A lavishly illustrated story of art and beauty, sex and power, Modernism and Surrealism, Lee Miller illuminates an astonishing womans journey from art object to artist.
A lushly illustrated story of art and beauty, sex and power, Modernism and Surrealism, independence and collaboration, "Lee Miller" is an astute study of one of the most visible, yet enigmatic, cultural figures of the recent past. of photos and 58 photos in text.
About the Author
has taught at Princeton and the University of California at Santa Cruz, among other universities in France, the U.S., and Australia. She is the author of Becoming Modern: The Life of Mina Loy.
Table of Contents
Part One: Elizabeth
1. A Poughkeepsie Girlhood (1907-15)
2. Never Jam Today (1915-25)
3. Circulating Around (1925-26)
4. Being in Vogue (1926-29)
Part Two: Miss Lee Miller
5. Montparnasse with Man Ray (1929-30)
6. La Femme Surrealiste (1930-32)
7. The Lee Miller Studio in Manhattan (1932-34)
Part Three: Madame Eloui Bey
8. Egypt (1934-37)
9. Surrealist Encampments (Summer 1937)
10. The Egyptian Complex (1937-39)
Part Four: Lee Miller, War Correspondent
11. London in the Blitz (1939-44)
12. Covering the War in France (1944-45)
13. Covering the War in Germany (1945)
14. Postwar (1945-46)
Part Five: Lady Penrose
15. Patching Things Up (1946-50)
16. A Double Life (1950-61)
17. A Second Fame (1961-71)
18. Retrospectives (1971-77)
Appendix: A Lee Miller Dinner for Eight