Tag Archives: Surrealism

Photo Show Stroll – Lee Miller: A Woman’s War IWM London

Miller’s most important legacy is without doubt her photography of the Second World War. Hilary Roberts, Research Curator of Photography, IWM.

As promised, here is a Photo Stroll through the exhibition Lee Miller: A Woman’s War at the Imperial War Museum in London. The show runs until 24 April 2016 and is billed as “a new major exhibition of 150 photographs depicting women’s experience of the Second World war by acclaimed photographer Lee Miller.”









The photos may not be in chronological order, all have been taken with my iPhone and are an attempt to capture the journey and the atmosphere of the show. Walking through the show with my mum, my impression was of a city street taking me on a journey back to past eras—pre-Second World War, Wartime Britain and Europe and Post-Second World War. Set against muted red, grey, blue and green walls the various photos, paintings, objects, audio, film, text panels, pull quotes and glass-fronted vitrines, not dissimilar from shop-front window displays, encourage the viewer to look inside and out, to left and right, above and around corners, and to reflect on the women whose lives were affected.

Observations from my mum: “Incredibly interesting shots and angles; the intimacy of daily life such as a photograph of women’s pants and stockings hanging on a washing line which a male photographer would not have taken; the use of light; the naturalness and the breadth of the work both in image and text”.

The United States War Department accredited 127 woman as official war correspondents during the war, of these only four were photographers: Lee Miller, Margaret Bourke-White, Dickey Chapelle and Toni Frissell. I didn’t know of the last two women so now it’s time to do some more research.





















From the press  release: “2015 marks 70 2015 marks 70 years since the end of the Second World War. When war broke out in 1939, women embarked on a continuous process of change and adaptation. For some, including Miller herself, the war brought a form of emancipation and personal fulfillment, but its many privations caused widespread suffering. Miller’s photography of women in Britain and Europe during this period reflects her unique insight as a woman and as a photographer capable of merging the worlds of art, fashion and photojournalism in a single image.

“Lee Miller: A Woman’s War will trace Miller’s remarkable career as a photographer for Vogue Magazine and for the first time will address her vision of gender. Miller was one of only four female professional photographers to be accredited as US official war correspondents during the Second World War.
Recognised today as one of the most important female war photographers of the twentieth century, through her work Miller offers an intriguing insight into the impact of conflict on women’s lives, detailing their diverse experiences and her own world view.

“Comprising four parts, this exhibition will document Miller’s evolving vision of women and their lives as she travelled between countries before, during and in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.

Women before the Second World War considers the origins of Miller’s wartime vision of women and her evolution as a photographer in the years preceding the Second World War; drawing on early life experiences, such as childhood trauma, her brief career as a fashion model, her involvement in the Surrealist art movement, the influence of early mentors such as Man Ray, and her two marriages.

Women in Wartime Britain explains how Miller, in her new role as photographer for British Vogue,documented the gradual but inexorable transformation of women’s lives in wartime Britain between 1939 and 1944. Illustrating how wartime privation and suffering was offset, in some cases, by enhanced opportunities outside the home.

Women in Wartime Europe examines Miller’s coverage of the impact of war on women in Europe as a US official war correspondent for Vogue magazine, 1944 – 1945, highlighting the diverse and distinctive nature of women’s experience of liberation, defeat and military occupation. Here the exhibition considers the emotional and physical toll of war on women, including Miller herself, reflecting too on the capacity of war in the front line to temporarily dissolve established divisions between the sexes.

Women after the Second World War focuses on Lee Miller’s coverage of women in Denmark, Austria, Hungary and Romania in the immediate aftermath of war, contemplating the lasting legacy of war, the difficult process of recovery from wartime experiences and the adjustment to post-war changes.

The show is sponsored by Barclays and produced in collaboration with the Lee Miller Archives. See my previous post for photos and the Audio Interview I did with Hilary Roberts, Curator of Photography at IWM, and Lee Miller’s son Antony Penrose at the press preview.


Outside Focus – Voices of the People: Man Ray Portraits opens at The National Portrait Gallery

This year I’ll be inviting contributors new to photography to review some photo shows to get a different perspective. Today’s post is by third-year journalism student Kerrie Braithwaite, who is new to photography and has written the following review of Man Ray – Portraits on show at The National Portrait Gallery. I also asked Kerrie to do some Vox Pops (Vox populi – interviews with members of the general public).

The National Portrait Gallery is currently exhibiting a comprehensive collection of Man Ray’s surreal photography until the 27 May.

Le Violon d'Ingres

Le Violon d’Ingres, 1924 by Man Ray
Museum Ludwig Cologne, Photography Collections (Collection Gruber)
© Man Ray Trust / ADAGP © Copy Photograph Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln

Although mostly known as a painter, this collection shows the development of Man Ray’s photography in the early 19th century, in chronological order based on the places where he was living. The show is curated in a way that allows the audience to have an insight into the photographer’s life through looking at his technique, style and subjects.

Henry Crowder

Henry Crowder, 1928 by Man Ray
Collection du Centre Pompidou, Mnam/Cci, Paris, AM 1994-394 (463)
© Man Ray Trust / ADAGP, Paris © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN / image Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI

Man Ray Self-Portrait with Camera

Man Ray Self-Portrait with Camera, 1932 by Man Ray
The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: Photography Acquisitions Committee Fund, Horace W. Goldsmith Fund, and Judith and Jack Stern Gift, 2004-16. Photo by Richard Goodbody, Inc © 2008 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris 2012 © Photo The Jewish Museum

There are portraits of many creative people, including writers, poets, actors and artists, such as Mina Loy, Jane Heap, and Gertrude Stein, some of whom he met during his involvement with both the Dada and Surrealist movements.

Although my lack of photographical knowledge leaves me with many questions as to Man Ray’s technique and purpose when it comes to the style of his portraits, the exhibition gives the audience an insight into his development of solarisation techniques and photograms as well as other photographic processes of the time. Man Ray’s love of photographing women is evident along with his portraits of other creatives, all of whom he manages to portray in a way that suggests the essence of the character of the person.

Solarized portrait of Lee Miller

Solarised Portrait of Lee Miller, c.1929 by Man Ray The Penrose Collection © Man Ray Trust/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2012, courtesy The Penrose Collection. Image courtesy the Lee Miller Archives

Catherine Deneuve

Catherine Deneuve, 1968 by Man Ray
Private Lender
© Man Ray Trust ARS-ADAGP / DACS

Towards the end of the show, a room is dedicated to Man Ray’s work in Hollywood where he continued to work with his surrealist style of photography. Some of the portraits are small , wallet-sized photos from the 1930s as though from the pocket of the artist himself, others take up an entire free-standing wall. Much of Man Ray’s portraits in this show cannot be found online, which makes the exhibition that much more worth the visit and that much more interesting due to its authenticity.


Juliet,1947 by Man Ray
Collection Timothy Baum, New York
© Man Ray Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP/DACS

Carol: “I was quiet interested in the French poet Paul Eluard and I love the portraits of Jean Cocteau. Man Ray manages to capture what you imagine his character might have been. The show is arranged chronologically which is interesting because you can see the development of his work.

Roy: “My wife wanted to see the exhibition and I came along. I’m interested in photography so I’m looking at it with a technical eye. Some of the earlier photographs seem rather amateurish, although the solarized prints are, technically, a bit more intriguing. The photographs are very small and it’s interesting to see portraits of familiar names, However, I’m surprised he made a living out of it.

Bryher: “My friend recommended the exhibition and although I’m familiar with other Surrealists, I haven’t actually seen any of Man Ray’s work. I like the portraits of the other surrealist artists who he was friends with. The way the show is curated, at times, you’re kind of jostling to see some of the pictures.

Mark: “I know Man Ray’s work and I did a little research before I flew into London. I really like the portrait of Erik Satie. When I think about Satie’s work, this photo really captures his persona. It’s a good collection of portraits and it seems pretty definitive in the scope of the exhibition.”

Stephanie: “I’m seeing a lot of shows today and I do know of Man Ray. I like the photographs of Marcel Duchamp, it’s nice to see them in real life and there’s a lot here to see.

Post by Kerrie Braithwaite.