Lee Miller on show in Venice: model, photographer, reporter and her relationship with Man Ray

Tgcom24, November 25, 2022

The exhibition “Lee Miller - Man Ray. Fashion, Love, War” at Palazzo Franchetti until 10 April 2023


Lee Miller was an icon of the 20th century. Model, photographer, muse, first woman war reporter to document the horrors of concentration camps liberated by American troops.

The exhibition “Lee Miller - Man Ray. Fashion, Love, War” at palazzo Franchetti in Venice wants to be a tribute to this beautiful and talented woman by 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. The exhibition until April 10, 2023 presents about 140 photographs of Lee Miller and Man Ray, some art objects and video documents, with loans from Lee Miller Archives and Marconi Foundation. 


“An exhibition that thanks to the sublime shots of Miller and Ray makes us retrace the intensity of the roaring years, Paris crossroads of fashion, literature and art that opened to the surrealist trait that has strongly characterized their photographs. And then Miller of the representation of the horror unleashed by the Second World War” -says Vittorio Verdone, Director of Corporate Communication and Media Relation of the Unipol Group”


OBJECTIVE OF THE EXHIBITION - Visitors will be able to fully appreciate the qualities of this great photographer, the contribution she made not only as a muse of Man Ray but 

Especially as an equal professional, to the point that often you forget that it was she who discovered, by chance, and to inspire him the photographic technique of solarization that Man Ray adopted as an artistic signature and for which it stood out. The aim of the exhibition is therefore also to offer the right recognition to Lee Miller, pioneer of surrealism in photography, placing it on an equal footing with Man Ray, whose work tended to obscure it both in life and in the years to come.


THE EXHIBITION PATH - The exhibition that opens with the diptych of Lee Miller and Man Ray (Man Ray, self-portrait, 1931 and Man Ray, Lee Miller, 1929) is divided into a chronological and thematic path. The first section is dedicated to Lee Miller as a model and muse in the twenties when she accidentally meets the famous publisher Condé Nast who makes her model of Vogue and Georges Lepape, the main fashion illustrator of those years, portrays her face for a cover of Vogue of 1927 launching it as an icon of style until that famous shot used without her knowledge for the advertising of the sanitary pads Kotex (considered scandalous for the time and for which, in part, she decides to leave New York and tries to return to Paris and follow her passion for photography).


THE PARISIAN YEARS - In the Parisian years Miller works with George Hoyningen-Huené, famous photographer of Vogue France who reveals her androgynous grace by photographing her with a suit and tennis shoes she wore as an evening dress, and in the famous shot "The Divers” one of the most iconic fashion shots in the 20th century chosen by Anna Wintour among her five favorites from Vogue’s long history. Lee draws avidly from every inspiration and provocation from the artistic and cultural background that precedes the 1929 meeting with Man Ray, in that Parisian avant-garde of the twenties that welcomed and launched some of the great names in art history.


THE RELATIONSHIP WITH MAN RAY - 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 in that period. The inspiration is so obvious that they both exerted on each other’s work. On display also the portraits taken by Man Ray of friends and great protagonists of that artistic season: Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso, Giorgio de Chirico, Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali and the surrealist shots to Lee Miller in which he tries to investigate and reveal her soul, her torments, using the camera as a tool almost to want to decompose her icy body by portraying the nape, neck, shoulders. 


THE SURREALIST CREATIONS - The exhibition also deals with the period after the relationship with Ray, when in 1932 she returns to New York where she opens a successful photographic studio, at the time the first founded and managed by a female photographer. The section then focuses on the surrealist creations of Lee Miller up to the shots of the famous "surrealist holidays" of the summer of 1937 between Cornwall and southern France together with Max Ernst, E.L.T.Mesens, Man Ray and Leonora Carrington in addition to Pablo Picasso, Dora Maar and Elieen Agar and with what will become her second husband, the British surrealist artist Roland Penrose.


WAR CORRESPONDENT - Finally the drama of World War II: Lee Miller is war correspondent and photojournalist for Vogue and finds herself documenting tragic events such as the London Blitz, the liberation of Paris and the concentration camps of Buchenwald and Dachau. In 1944, she was credited as an American Army correspondent and collaborated with Time Life photographer David E. Scherman. Within this section, in addition to the iconic shot in Hitler’s bathtub, also a wide selection of her works with surrealist cut, and photos of important artists and old friends, such as Picasso and Jean Cocteau in Paris, which she meets shortly after the end of the conflict.


The exhibition Lee Miller - Man Ray. Fashion, love, war, curated by Victoria Noel-Johnson, is produced and organized by CMS.Cultura in collaboration with ACP-Palazzo Franchetti under the patronage of the City of Venice that has included it in the program "Le città in Festa", main sponsor Gruppo Unipol.