Lee Miller began her career as a model in New York during the 1920s, eventually posing for celebrated photographers Edward Steichen and Arnold Genthe. In 1929 she moved to Paris, where she began to develop her own artistic ideas while assisting and then collaborating with Man Ray, a key member of the Surrealist movement. Miller mastered lighting and printing techniques; she also gained a reputation for portraits, fashion photography, and experimental compositions, such as this nude study, with Surrealist themes. In this picture the nude is presented as a modernist sculpture: armless, legless, and with an upended backside that suggests a profound reorientation of the human body. Her male contemporaries—Man Ray, but also Edward Weston—created similar works, but with more overtly erotic connotations. Miller, by contrast, deployed the camera’s potential to render anatomy disquieting while avoiding the offering of sexual titillation.
Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.
Julien Levy Collection, Gift of Jean Levy and the Estate of Julien Levy
Extended information about this artwork
Rosalind, Krauss and Jane Livingston. 1985. “L’Amour Fou: Photography and Surrealism.” Cross River Press, Ltd. Exh. cat. p. 151, fig. 133.
Livingston, Jane. 1989. “Lee Miller: Photographer.” California/International Arts Foundation/Thames and Hudson Inc. p. 24.
Haworth-Booth, Mark. 2007. “The Art of Lee Miller.” Exh. cat. V&A Publications/Yale University Press. p. 86, fig. 70.
Art Institute of Chicago, “Photographs from the Julien Levy Collection: Starting with Atget,” December 11, 1976–February 20, 1977; traveled to the International Center of Photography, New York, April 21-May 29, 1977; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, November 4-December 18 1977; Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, January 13-Ferbruary 26, 1978; Lakeview Center for the Arts and Sciences, Peoria, Illinois, March 16-April 30, 1978; and Cincinnati Art Museum, November 17-December 24, 1978. (David Travis)
Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery, “L’Amour Fou: Photography and Surrealism,” September 14, 1985–November 17, 1985; traveled to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, December 13, 1985–February, 1986; Paris, France, Centre Georges Pompidou, April 15–June 16, 1985; London, England, Hayward Gallery, July 10–October 3, 1986.
Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, “Lee Miller: Photographer,” February 11-April 17, 1989; traveled to New Orleans Museum of Art, July 15-August 20, 1989; Minneapolis Institute of Art, November 4-January 7, 1990; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, February 2-April 1, 1990 (?); International Center of Photography, New York, April 13-June 10, 1990; Art Institute of Chicago, June 23-August 26, 1990; Santa Monica Museum of Art, September 16-November 4, 1990; Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan, January 26-February 25, 1991.
New York, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, “Convulsive Beauty: The Impact of Surrealism on American Art,” June 23–August 27, 1988.
Art Institute of Chicago, “Sights Unseen: Photographs from the Permanent Collection,” October 16-March 13, 1994.
Art Institute of Chicago, “Brassai and Company,” January 24-May 17, 1998. (David Travis)
London, England, Tate Modern, “Surrealism: Desire Unbound,” September 20–December 16, 2001; traveled to Metropolitan Museum of Art, January 28–May 6, 2002.
Los Angeles, CA, J. Paul Getty Museum, “Surrealist Muse: Lee Miller, Roland Penrose, Man Ray, 1925–1945,” February 25–June 15, 2003.
London, England, Victoria & Albert Museum, “The Art of Lee Miller,” September 15, 2007–January 6, 2008; traveled to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, January 26– April 27, 2008; San Francisco Museum of Art, May 29–September 2, 2008; Paris, France, Jeu de Paume, October 14, 2008–January 11, 2009.
San Francisco, California, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, “Man Ray/Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism,” July 14, 2012-October 12, 2012. (Julian Cox)
Art Institute of Chicago, Gallery 10 Permanent Collection Rotation, November 23, 2013–May 4, 2014.
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