As beautifully written article by Blake Morrison for the Guardian in 2012, “Too implausible a storyline, surely. A woman who was a fashion icon, a surrealist and a war correspondent? But this was the life of Lee Miller – or, to borrow the title of Antony Penrose’s 1988 book, The Lives of Lee Miller.” A unicorn of a being for certain, I say.
Blake Morrison further archived… “Strikingly beautiful, she was used to submitting to the male gaze. First there was her father, a keen amateur photographer who persuaded her to sit naked for him from the age of eight right into her 20s; then the publisher Condé Nast, who bumped into her, literally, in Manhattan, was struck by her looks, took her on as a model for Vogue, and made her the face of Kotex tampon adverts; then Man Ray, whose mistress and pupil she became (Madame Man Ray, as she was known in Paris). She was proud of her looks, but ultimately frustrated by life in front of the lens. “I looked like an angel, but I was a fiend inside,” she said, looking back. Angry with her for taking lovers, and jealous of Cocteau for using her in his film The Blood of a Poet, Man Ray expressed his jealousy by doing violence to her face and body in his art.
A less spirited woman might have been crushed by these alpha males, but Miller, unfazed, determinedly transformed herself from passive model to active artist. First came her surrealist phase: she not only outmanned Man Ray in creating her own works, but was instrumental in the invention of the “solarisation” technique (a partial reversal of blacks and whites that creates a silvery aura).
I see a great deal of myself in Lee Miller, the artist and the muse. I consider myself fortunate to be here to make my voice heard for all women in this fight for the Equal Right Amendment, and not just the ability of making the art I love to make at all times.