Friends, lovers, colleagues: the relationship of chaos and love between Lee Miller and Man Ray

Leone Casati Modignani, Artslife, November 7, 2022
dettaglio, Lee Miller, Portrait of Space, Al Bulwayeb, Near Siwa, Egypt 1937 by Lee Miller (E1905) © Lee Miller Archives England 2022. All Rights Reserved.

From 5 November 2022 to 10 April 2023, Palazzo Franchetti (Venice) hosts the exhibition Lee Miller - Man Ray. Fashion, love, war, curated by Victoria Noel-Johnson, with a total of 140 photographs of the two important artists.


Model, photographer, muse, first woman war reporter to document the horrors of the concentration camps liberated by American troops, icon of the twentieth century. Lee Miller was all this and much more, she went through life with passion and determination. The exhibition wants to do justice to her, removing her from the shadow of Man Ray who has always accompanied her, to reveal their deep and complicated relationship in a more objective way: Man Ray, first her teacher, then love and finally great friend.


The exhibition is produced and organized by CMS.Cultura in collaboration with ACP - Art Capital Partners Palazzo Franchetti - main sponsor of Unipol Group - presents about 140 photographs y Lee Miller and Man Ray, some art objects and video documents, thanks to the adhesion of the Lee Miller Archives and the Marconi Foundation. Lee Miller, a pioneer of surrealism in photography, is finally placed on an equal footing with Man Ray, whose work tended to obscure it both in life and in the years to come.

The exhibition is divided into a chronological and thematic path; welcomes the visitors with a section dedicated to Lee Miller as a model an muse in the twenties.

Man Ray, Lee Miller, 1930 ca, © Man Ray 2015 Trust / ADAGP - SIAE - 2022; images : Telimage, Paris

The heart of the exhibition is the relationship between Lee Miller and Man Ray blossomed in Paris in 1929, and ended in 1932, with a focus on their lives, careers and relationships at the time. It will be so evident to the visitor the inspiration that both exerted on one another’s work, including the photographic technique of Solarization that Man Ray made his own to the point that often Miller’s works were wrongly attributed to Ray.


The exhibition also addresses, through a wide section of photos both portraits and commercial advertisement, the period after the relationship with Ray, when Miller in 1932 returns to New York where she opens a successful photographic studio, at the time the first founded and managed by a female photographer. Throughout the exhibition, the fil rouge is still dedicated to the relationship between Lee Miller and Man Ray and the evolution from love into friendship, which lasted for almost 50 years, parallel to the reciprocal marriages with Aziz Eloui, Roland Penrose and Juliet Browner.