The exhibition offers a portrait of Surrealism through two of its greatest exponents, with more than 100 photographs, art works and new relevant documentation.
In 1929, Elizabeth “Lee” Miller, a young American model often seen in Vogue magazine, arrived in Paris with the intention of becoming a photographer. Uninvited and with no prior introduction, she presented herself at the studio of Man Ray, a noted Surrealist artist and photographer specializing in portraits of contemporary society, insisting that she become his apprentice. The encounter marked the beginning of a life-long relationship. The years 1929-1932 were a time of particularly fertile collaboration, during which the fiercely independent, highly-motivated Lee was soon alternating in the roles of apprentice, photography assistant, lover and muse. After that period, Lee opened and successfully managed her own studio. As prominent figures in avant-garde society (Paris, New York and London) and close friends of such leading artists as Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Max Ernst, and Paul Eluard, Ray and Miller formed part of the early liberal surrealist milieu of the 20s and 30s.
The book, published to complement the Milan exhibition, aims to establish Miller’s remarkable talent as a photographer, setting her on a par with Man Ray, whose work has tended to overshadow hers, and to re-examine the couple’s professional and personal relationship. It also reveals the crucial ways in which Lee Miller inspired Man Ray’s work at that time as well as later, including the discovery of the photographic technique of solarization, which quickly became Ray’s most widely-recognized style. Through a wide selection of their portraits of famous people, their relationship is used as a lens through which to critically re-evaluate and re-interpret the relationship between the two within the Surrealist movement and the broader avant-garde society of Paris between the mid-20s and the late 30s.