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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Revival: The Photography of Lillian Bassman

Gina Bellafante writes:

In the early 1970s Lillian Bassman, among the most important fashion photographers of the 20th century, made the decision to dispose of her career, quite literally. Artists do this all the time without the intent — giving themselves over to excess, retreating to ashrams — but Ms. Bassman’s approach was aggressive and determined. Disillusioned by the costuming of the late 1960s, she had had enough of fashion and expressed her disdain by destroying decades’ worth of negatives and placing others in a trash bag in the coal room of her Upper East Side carriage house. Her era of furtive eroticism was over, and there was no point in scrapbooking it.

Years later Ms. Bassman, who is 92, relented and retrieved her discarded images, seeking creative ways to reprint them. Some of these pictures will be on view at a new show at KMR Arts in Washington Depot, Conn. (which begins Saturday and runs through Sept. 5), juxtaposed with an anatomically resonant series on sidewalk cracks that she produced in the ’70s. The exhibition serves as a preamble to a moment of renewed interest in Ms. Bassman’s career; this fall Abrams will publish a book of her work, “Lillian Bassman: Women,” which will accompany a show at the Staley-Wise Gallery. And in November the Deichtorhallen museum in Hamburg, Germany, will mount a retrospective of her photography, along with that of her husband, Paul Himmel, who died in February.

link: Culture - In Lillian Bassman’s Salvaged Photographs, a Rediscovery of Femininity -


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