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Lee Miller: A Life


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Carolyn Burke has taught at Princeton University and the University of California, Santa Cruz, as well as at other universities in France, the United States, and Australia. She is the author of Becoming Modern: The Life of Mina Loy.


A great beauty, Lee Miller (1907-77) started modeling at a very early age, eventually appearing in the pages of Vogue. Behind the camera, the intrepid, creative, and talented Miller went on to work as a portraitist, a fashion photojournalist, and a war correspondent. She covered the London blitz, the liberation of Paris, and the burning of Hitler's house, all the while creating striking and haunting images that reflected her surrealist sensibility. Given Miller's involvement with dozens of the last century's major artists-Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, and Man Ray among them-this biography reads like a social history and who's who of the era and its luminaries. Biographer, art critic, and translator Burke (Becoming Modern: The Life of Mina Loy) discusses many of Miller's photographs in depth, but the 24 pages of stills here (and the 58 that appear in the text) are probably not going to satisfy readers. It may be advisable to order books solely covering Miller's photographs to complement the biography. Otherwise, this meticulously researched chronicle is a valuable contribution to World War II literature, photography, Surrealism, and biography collections. Highly recommended.-Ann D. Carlson, Oak Park and River Forest H.S. Lib., IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Burke indelibly portrays a radiant woman forced to look into the heart of darkness." - Chicago Tribune "Lee Miller was an astounding woman, brought memorably to life in this astounding book." - Telegraph (UK) "At last, a life and an album about Lee Miller.... For the first time the ravaged arc of [her] life is clear, beautiful but lined in pain." - New York Observer "Illuminating, revelatory, perceptive.... A welcome and long overdue biography sure to become essential reading for any student of the history of art and photography in the twentieth century." - Scotsman (UK) "Burke captures the excitement of Miller's omnivorous spirit." - Janet Maslin, New York Times "Delightful, meticulously researched, fascinating.... Miller's life had many phases, all of them interesting, and Burke captures them in [this] fine biography." - Washington Post Book World"

Miller (1907-1977) began her career as a fashion model, and quickly decamped for Paris, where she became Man Ray's muse and student. After they split, she returned to Manhattan for a brief stint as a studio photographer, but eventually returned to Europe. Her surrealist background led to her taking stunning photos of the London Blitz, but she shot her most memorable-and disturbing-images accompanying American troops from Paris to Dachau as a war correspondent for Vogue. Burke's meticulously detailed biography reveals how keenly Miller's wartime experiences haunted her during her final troubled decades, but it also probes sympathetically into the artist's other significant trauma: a childhood rape, which was, Burke conjectures, exacerbated by her father's practice of photographing her nude well into early adulthood. Burke (Becoming Modern: The Life of Mina Loy) writes with a careful sense of how Miller might have approached her work and of how it is perceived by modern viewers. Her descriptions of Miller's imagery are so vivid that, despite the dozens of photographs reproduced here, readers will find themselves wanting to see more. As the first major biographer outside the Miller family, she traces a dynamic life that embodies the spirit of the 20th century's first half. Photos. Agent, Georges Borchardt. (Dec. 5) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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