Lillian Bassman by Kyungeun CHO


When people think of iconic fashion photographers, often people think of names like Ricchard Avendon or Lrving Penn. However today, I would like to introduce Lillian Bassman. Lillian Bassman was known as a famous American magazine art director and fashion photographer. She changed fashion history, photography and the way people see women. She was born in June 15,1917 and passed away on February 13,2012. She is not longer alive, however her fashion and art photographs lives on in a exhibition and book.


In her lifetime, Lillian Bassman’s work especially her photographs went from fashion to fine art. Her work showed many people her great vision and enthusiasm of work. The work was graphically striking and evoking feeling with romantic moods and high contrast. She turned to her own photo project working with negatives and prints. The most interesting thing or quality about her work is she used very high contrast between light and dark. She also used many geometrical shape and placement and played with different camera angles of the subject. She also worked on a spin-off of the magazine and developed a signature style such as trying to capture the dreamy black and white graceful models’ motion and emotion. She applied bleach to manipulate the tone. To do that, she tried many different methods such as cropping,toning,bleaching and using gauzes and tissues to manipulate images until the mysterious feeling appears. She also worked with digital technology and abstract color photography to create a new series of work especially she often used photoshop. Simply, her goal was to photograph women as natural and unposed as possible. Definitely, she learned how to use the light but she didn’t let those boundaries limit her.


There is her famous quoted “to take the hardness out of photography,” which she accomplished through various darkroom manipulations. Lillian Bassman wandered into fashion photography in pursuit of the happiness of constant creation. Her works are closer to illustrators who liked the glossy pages of fashion magazines with photographers, designers as John Galliano. Her photographs considered to be among the greatest of the 20th century and she was asked to photograph the haute couture collection for new york times magazine as well as work for german vogue and soon her work has been exhibited worldwide.

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