Photographer Misia-O’ will unveil 4 large-format photographs inspired by Lee Miller in Arles in an exhibition titled ‘The Spirit of Lee Miller’, which will also feature a bespoke fragrance inspired by Miller’s explosive magnificence, an art book in limited edition and an NFT.
At the opening of ‘The Spirit of Lee Miller’ at the Belle Beau Gallery on Wednesday July 6, there will be an ‘In Conversation’ between Misia-O’ and Ami Bouhassane, Lee Miller’s granddaughter and co-director of Farleys House & Gallery Ltd, the company that manages the Lee Miller Archive.
‘The Spirit of Lee Miller’ by Misia-O’ is a new exhibition featuring a series of capsule portrait photographs. The photographic exhibition “The Spirit of Lee Miller” is the first in a series dedicated to women artists eclipsed by their titles of Muses. ‘The Spirit’ of Lee Miller’ is Misia-O’s 6th consecutive exhibition at the Rencontres d’Arles, after ‘Different Shades of Black’ in 2019, ‘Different Shades of White’ in 2021, and ‘Different Shades of Yellow ‘ in 2020, for which Misia-O’ received the prestigious ‘Jury Prize’ from the Salon des Beaux-Arts.
After being discovered by Conde Nast in New York in the 1920s, Lee Miller became a favorite Vogue model, and later a model for famous photographers and artists such as Steichen, Cocteau, Picasso and Man Ray. She went behind the camera, opened her first portrait studio in Paris in 1930 and became a portrait, advertising and fashion photographer for Vogue and other magazines (including Vanity Fair, Lilliput, Picture Post and LIFE) in the 1930s and 40.
In 1929, Miller moved to Paris where she met the surrealist Man Ray, she quickly became his student, lover and collaborator before opening her own studio in the city. Miller discovered the solarization technique by accident and developed it with Man Ray.
Miller’s beauty and connections to well-known artists and her perceived role as a “muse” often overshadowed her incredible accomplishments as a surrealist, portrait and fashion photographer, and war correspondent with American forces during World War II. . Miller was one of the few female war correspondents with the Allied troops and was believed to be the only one attached to the US Army covering the fighting. For some of her war reporting, she partnered with Life Magazine photographer David E Scherman. Miller was living in Hitler’s private apartment in Munich when his death was announced. There she took Hitler’s iconic self-portrait in the bath. On the floor by the bathtub, Miller’s boots, covered in filth from the Dachau prison camp where she had come from that morning. In the latter part of her life, Miller turned to Surrealist cooking at her home, Farleys, England, where the Lee Miller Archive is owned and managed by her son Antony Penrose and granddaughter Ami Bouhassane.
The Spirit of Lee Miller is a tribute to his free-spirited “essence”, his talent as a photographer and his inner and outer beauty. At the center of ‘The Spirit of Lee Miller’ exhibition in Arles will be four limited edition large format prints inspired by Lee Miller and titled; ‘Becoming Lee’, ‘The Spirit of’, ‘Blooming’ and ‘A Poet’s Muse’. Misia-O’s shoots are both analog (Hasselblad) and digital (Fuji XT2), and “The Spirit of Lee Miller” includes both. Misia-O processes and prints its analogue photos. All photos were taken in his photography studio in London.
The exhibition will take place from July 4 to 31 at the Belle Beau Gallery, an art and photography gallery located in a 17th century Hôtel Particulier in the heart of Arles, as part of the Les Rencontres d’Arles festival. Ami Bouhassane, Lee Miller’s granddaughter, and co-director of Lee Miller’s archives will chat with Misia-O’ about Misia-O’s work, as well as her grandmother’s fearless life and career as a photographer , at an invitation-only opening on Wednesday, July 6 at Belle Beau Gallery.
Misia-O’ says: “I discovered the works of Lee Miller when I was 11 years old. My mother had bought me a surrealist book with solarized portraits that seemed magical to me, and I found Lee’s “Fire Masks” intriguing. This led me to discover surrealism and my love for photography and the 1930s. Also, and just as importantly, I admire Lee’s talent and can identify with his free spirit and his style of photography.
Bypassing her beauty which for a time transformed her into the muse of famous male artists, she goes behind the lens and becomes an independent and talented photographer. As a female war photographer, her courage and humanity during the war was remarkable. If anything, Lee Miller proves that brains, beauty and talent are absolutely possible because she achieved it in the 1930s and 40s, an era notorious for not giving female artists the credit they deserved. His legacy is deeply inspiring and it is an honor to honor him.
Misia-O’ is not only an accomplished photographer, and an MA student at the prestigious Royal College of Art is also an artisan perfumer whose unique scent creations encapsulate the essence of her photographic subject. For its exhibition ‘The Spirit of Lee Miller in Arles, Misia-O’ has created a perfume in homage to Miller’s free and fiery soul and his talent as a unique and avant-garde photographer. The fragrance, like Lee Miller, celebrates his hypnotic, sensual, independent and even rebellious nature with complex notes revealing his refreshing and intoxicating ‘boyish’ nature.
To accompany the exhibition, Misia-O’ has also created a special limited collector’s edition of ‘The Spirit of Lee Miller’ handmade fine art photography books, featuring a curated selection of Misia-O’s images and poems. O, inspired by Lee’s career as a model, muse and freelance photographer.
Misia’O’s exhibition ‘The Spirit of Lee Miller’ fortuitously coincides with a major retrospective at the Espace Van Gogh in Arles during the Rencontres d’Arles: ‘Lee Miller: Professional Photographer’ (1932-1945) which will focus on the most prolific periods of Miller’s life, featuring his fashion and publicity photography and portraiture, as well as his grittier photojournalism, including powerful images captured at Dachau and Buchenwald during World War II.
Pia Copper, gallery owner, Belle Beau Gallery comments: “Misia O explores the ideas of solarization and black and white, an idea developed in tandem by Man Ray and Lee Miller.
Photos: Courtesy Éclosion The Spirit-of Lee-Miller exhibition by Misia-O’ © 2022.
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