Source: LA Times - She helped define fashion photography before taking 20 years off. At 93, she is in the midst of a career renaissance.
To set eyes on a photo by Lillian Bassman is mesmerizing. The image, usually that of a striking woman, hits with the force of an epiphany. Suddenly those heroin chic ad campaigns of the '90s seem shopworn and flat. And the clunkily posed spread in this month's glossy feels oh-so-forced.
In the '50s and '60s, when Bassman clicked her shutter, she created a visual time capsule. One wonders, eyeing the elegant angle of a gloved arm or the mysterious tilt of a hat, "If I stare long enough at this picture, will I hear the rustle of taffeta and tulle swaying? The low and beckoning incantations of Sinatra?" It's as if the photographer had the ability to manipulate time.
Bassman was considered one of the preeminent fashion photographers of the 20th century when she suddenly withdrew from the scene. But, now, at age 93, she is in the midst of a renaissance, prompted back to work almost by accident. And renewed interest in her legacy has led to a new book and exhibitions around the world, including a stunning retrospective, "Lillian Bassman: Women," at the Peter Fetterman Gallery in Santa Monica. Her pictures, some not seen for decades, capture and immortalize the style of an era.
They say every picture tells a story. Here's Lillian Bassman's, in her favorite timeless black-and-white.
Her parents, Russian Jewish immigrants, ascended to a middle-class life in the Bronx in the 1920s. One summer, her mother took 6-year-old Lillian to Coney Island. While there, Mom earned a few extra dollars waitressing for the Himmels, who were dear friends. And, because it was beshert -- meant to be -- Lillian met their son Paul, an older chap of 9, who, in time, became her betrothed and a respected photographer in his own right. But it was another man, design genius Alexey Brodovitch, who was to chart her future.
After taking Brodovitch's prestigious design lab class, Bassman secured an internship as his assistant at Harper's Bazaar. She flourished, and in 1945, when Junior Bazaar debuted, she shared the masthead with Brodovitch as art director. Not only did she conceptualize layouts, but she too charted futures -- notably fostering the work of Richard Avedon (who would remain a lifelong friend). Continue Reading Here...