The Woman Who Broke Boundaries: Photographer Lee Miller

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July 3, 2021 – January 2, 2022

Sweeping in scope and intimate in focus, The Woman Who Broke Boundaries: Photographer Lee Miller surveys the work of photographer Lee Miller (1907-1977), who is known for her fascinating personal life and remarkably incisive portraiture and photojournalism. Organized by The Dalí Museum and on view exclusively in St. Petersburg, the exhibition features more than 130 images by the groundbreaking female photographer, an eyewitness to some of the most extraordinary moments of the 20th century, and confidante of many influential artists.

About the exhibition

The exhibition concentrates on Miller’s portraits of important writers and artists, the majority associated with the Surrealist movement in Paris, and with whom she had sustained personal relationships. Also featured is a small selection of striking self-portraits, images captured during the liberation of Paris and Germany at the end of the Second World War, and photos representative of technical advancements in the medium she chose to express herself and capture the times. The Woman Who Broke Boundaries: Photographer Lee Miller is curated by William Jeffett, chief curator of exhibitions at The Dalí Museum.

“Equally unconventional and ambitious, Lee Miller continually reinvented herself, much like the artists she lived among and photographed,” said Dr. Hank Hine, executive director of The Dalí. “With a wry surrealist quality, her work intimately captured a range of people and historical moments; however, the passion, intensity and restlessness of the woman behind the camera is where the most extraordinary stories can be told.”

About Lee Miller

Born in New York, Miller started her career as a Vogue model in the 1920s. After moving to Paris in 1929, she began a three-year personal and professional partnership with American Surrealist photographer Man Ray. In addition to modeling for many of Ray’s most significant works, Miller also served as an active assistant and collaborator, rediscovering the “Sabatier effect” that she and Ray adopted to create solarized prints with a brief secondary exposure resulting in an aura around the subject. Toward the end of her time in Paris, Miller photographed Dalí and his wife Gala.

In 1932 Miller returned to the U.S, where she set up her own portrait studio and contributed to such publications as Condé Nast’s Vogue. A few years later upon her return to Europe, she met British artist, historian and poet, Roland Penrose, and together they visited Pablo Picasso in 1937 and established a lifelong family friendship. Miller brought to her work the technical innovation and poetic vision of Surrealism, and exhibited with the London Surrealist Group in 1940. During WWII, Miller traveled with the U.S. Army as an officially accredited war correspondent, rare for a woman at the time. Miller bore witness to the horrors of war and the death camps of Nazi Germany. After the war, she married Penrose and continued her friendship with key figures of the avant-garde, many of whom she photographed for various publications and for biographies written by Penrose. Portraiture was the only form of photography Miller continued to practice until the end of her life in 1977.

Works in this exhibit are on loan from Lee Miller Archives, East Sussex, England, www.LeeMiller.co.uk. Top image, detail of Fire masks, Downshire Hill, London, England 1941 by Lee Miller (3840-8) © Lee Miller Archives England 2020.  All Rights Reserved. www.leemiller.co.uk.

Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture (Section n286.25, Florida Statutes), BNO Creative Labs, John and Mary Stachnik and Sandy Taraszki, David Zuern and Airport Partner St. Pete – Clearwater International Airport (PIE).