13.25 x 10.25"
78 pages
Duotone photographs
Hardcover with jacket
ISBN: 0-8212-2376-3
$60.00 USD
Bulfinch Press, 1997

Lillian Bassman
Essay by Martin Harrison








From the 1940s to the 1960s Bassman was at fashion’s cutting edge, working as bith art director and photographer. At Junior Bazaar she worked with photographers like Richard Avedon, Robert Frank, Louis Faurer, Arnold Newman, and Paul Himmel. Then, under the Russian emigre and Mordernist guru Alexey Brodovitch (and while using George Hoyningen-Huene’s darkroon), Bassman started to shoot pictures herself - diffuse, moody images with and idiosyncratic vocabulary of gestures, and an unsettling edge. With their blurred silhouettes and unusual compositions - agown modeled in a window to resemble a butterfly, a dramatically lit lingerie model covering her face, a pair of arms hugging naked shoulders - Bassman’s images flirt with abstraction and conure up a sensuous dreamworld. Bassman soon in constant demand and , in addition to her editorial work, shot advertising campaigns for clients like Chanel and Balenciaga.

By the 1970s, Bassman’s interest in pure form began to clash with fashion’s changing aesthetic. Her increasing disenchantment with fashion as an industry led her to abandon commercial photography for personal jrojects instead. In a bold attempt to free herself creatively from the past, she jettisoned forty years of negatives and prints - her life’s work. Over twenty years later, luck resurrected a forgotten bag, brimful of hundreds of images.

Now, Bassman is enjoying a resurgence at fashion’s forefront, with exhibitions at museums and galleries in New York, Paris, London, and Milan, several portfolios in the New York Times Magazine, the coveted Neiman Marcus campaign, and an upcoming 1997 retrospective exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, that plans to travel to Germany and Milan. This long-awaited monograph, presenting both the past and recent work, is not only a tribute to a great talent in the annals of fashion and photography but also the story of an indomitable creative personality.