|It's a Cinch, Carmen, New York, Harper's Bazaar, 1951|
A solo exhibition of work by Lillian Bassman (1917-2012), renowned as a modernising force in post-war fashion photography, opens at Atlas Gallery on 27 February (until 18 April 2020). A fashion photographer at Harper’s Bazaar in the 1950s – 1970s, Bassman was famous for her high-contrast images of society women, actresses and models. Reworking early negatives in the 1990s, Bassman accentuated the stylised vision she had begun exploring in her early career, attracting a new wave of interest in her work. A selection of black and white photographs from both periods will be on display.
Bassman’s work was significant in emphasising the power of elegance, mystery and gesture in fashion. “[Lillian Bassman] makes visible that heart-breaking invisible place between appearance and the disappearance of things” (Richard Avedon). Her prints, developed in high contrast and carefully over-exposed, are abstract, luminous, soft yet captivatingly dramatic. The models become silhouettes, consumed by blankets of light and darkness; only the curve of an eye in profile, the gentle sweep of a jawline or a tiny nose peeping out from under a large hat give any indication of their features.
Bassman’s career in photography started under the guidance of legendary Alexey Brodovich (1898-1971), Art Director at Harper’s Bazaar. After being appointed co-art director of Junior Bazaar in 1945, Bassman’s images were published in Harper’s from 1950-65. At Harper’s, Bassman helped foster the careers of photographers Richard Avedon, Robert Frank, Arnold Newman and Louis Faurer. Bassman herself spent long hours in Harper’s darkroom developing and manipulating her images to achieve her signature style. She explained to one interviewer: “I tried to make my pictures soft and flowing. I was never interested in the straight print and I was trying out soft-focus effects by printing through tissue or gauze and vignetting with ferricyanide bleach.”
|Lillian Bassman (1917-2012), Barbara Mullen, Harper’s Bazaar, New York, c.1958. © The Estate of Lillian Bassman|
49 Dorset Street London W1U 7NF
Lillian Bassman : Redefining Fashion
27 February – 18 April 2020
More information: Gallery Website
More exhibitions: All About Photo Website