She was a surrealist and Man Ray’s lover, a super model before the term was invented, a fashion photographer and an acclaimed war photographer.
Yesterday, I listened to a talk about the life of Lee Miller, by her son Antony Penrose. He is now responsible for the Lee Miller Archive. A conservation project that preserves and displays the 60,000 images that were left behind, when Lee Miller died of cancer in 1977.
Lee Miller War Photographer
At the beginning of WW2 Lee Miller was living in Hampstead, with British surrealist painter and curator Roland Penrose. Her war photography started by recording the Blitz, and working for Vogue, documenting women at work in factories and munitions. In 1942, Miller became an official uniformed US war correspondent. She was one of only four accredited female US war photographers, following the US Army through the D-Day landings, the liberation of Paris, and the drive into Germany.
In Germany, Miller headed for the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps to record the depravity of the Third Reich. She told British Vogue Editor Audrey Withers: “I don’t normally take pictures of horrors. But I hope Vogue will find that it can publish these pictures.”
Hitler’s Bath Tub
After leaving Dachau, Miller and fellow photographer David E Scherman found themselves billeted in the Fuhrer’s apartment in Munich. It was there that she created one of her most iconic photographs, (see my board). The image is of Lee Miller sitting in Hitler’s bath tub. The dirt from her boots has been wiped on Hitler’s bath mat. Hitler’s photograph is to the left, and on the right are Eva Braun’s ornaments. Even the shower hose straddles her neck like a noose. This picture reveals not only her creativity, but also her audacious defiance.
A Woman’s War
This is Kate Adie talking about a major exhibition of her work at the Imperial War Museum in 2015.
Next year Kate Winslet is to play Lee Miller in a film biopic. The film goes into production in 2018 and is based on the autobiography The Lives of Lee Miller written by Antony Penrose.