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Joseph Cornell with One of His Objects, 1933

Lee Miller

American, 1907-1977
Gelatin silver print
Image: 6-7/16 x 7-13/16 in. (15.9 x 19.8 cm); Paper: 11-1/2 x 15-3/8 in. (29.2 x 39.1 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of the Institute for Aesthetic Development, San Francisco and the Lee Miller Archives

Not on view

Lee Miller’s first exposure to photography came when she served as a model for some of the best-known early American photographers, including Edward Steichen. Miller’s interest in the medium grew, and in 1929 she went with Man Ray to Paris, where she established her first studio. Though Miller was primarily a portrait and fashion photographer, and would eventually distinguish herself as a combat photographer during World War II, her surrealist images are her most radical. This portrait of fellow artist Joseph Cornell (1903–1972), who pioneered assemblage and who was just as influenced by surrealism as Miller, reflects the artists’ shared interests. Miller photographed Cornell in rigid profile, a pose reminiscent of early Renaissance portraiture, but his head floats in the darkness, a seeming extension of the model boat before him.

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