press release

On February 26, 2002, a retrospective exhibition of the works of US-born photographer Lee Miller (1907–1977) will open at the Helsinki City Art Museum’s Tennis Palace galleries. Miller is one of the most celebrated and prominent woman photographers of the 20th century. She had already made a career as a model when she turned to photography in the 1920s. Although a fashion photographer, she also captured some of the most emotive events in world history as a US war correspondent during the Second World War. The exhibition displays some 200 images by Miller and also includes personal items and other documentary material.

Lee Miller initially became known as a model for Edward Steichen and other well-known photographers. After moving to Paris in the late 1920s, the young beauty began to take photographs and established herself as a fashion photographer. In Paris, she modelled for the artist Man Ray and was also his assistant and lover. Together they developed the solarization technique, which both used in their work for special effect.

Miller moved in the surrealist circles and documented her time with her friends. Her close friends included some of the most famous artists of the time, such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Eluard, Jean Cocteau, Max Ernst and Leonora Carrington. Her style was influenced by surrealism and she often used an unexpected angle of view. It culminated following her move to Egypt in 1934. Desert landscapes that altered their appearance with the changing light inspired her to take some of her most experimental and stylized photographs.

When the Second World War broke out, Miller moved to London and began working for the British Vogue. In addition to fashion assignments, she photographed the damage suffered by London in the Blitz and the wartime United Kingdom in general. In 1942, Miller became one of the first women to be accredited as a US war correspondent. This took her to the Continent, where she photographed the bombing of St. Malo and the liberation of Paris.

She was also among the first reporters to document the liberation of Dachau. For several years, her reportage from war-torn Europe formed a central part of the content of the Vogue. After many years on the road, Lee Miller had a son with her painter-husband Roland Penrose, and they settled at Farley Farm in England. Gradually, she gave up photography and focused passionately on cooking. She died of cancer of the pancreas in 1977.

Exhibition organized and lent by the Lee Miller Archive. Curated by Richard Calvocoressi, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.


only in german

Lee Miller
Ort: Tennis Palace