Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lillian Bassman: etc.

A quote by Ginia Bellafante, from the New York Times:
"Ms. Bassman took her most significant pictures from the late '40s to the early '60s; most were published in Harper's Bazaar under the stewardship of the magazine's influential art director Alexey Brodovitch and belong distinctly to the era of 'Mad Men' New York.
"The clothes have a structured beauty; the gloves are mandatory; the necks are long. Elegant men with cigarettes between their fingers occasionally enter the frame, encountering women who appear utterly indifferent to their attention.
"The perversions of inequality are absent; what appears instead is the glamour of a protracted cultural moment in which women were free from any expectation of sexual pursuit. The power of Ms. Bassman's photographs is the power of a woman who is never moved to make a call.
"At the same time that she was turning out editorial work, Ms. Bassman was having a considerable impact on advertising, photographing lingerie in a manner that abandoned the pharmaceutical aesthetic that then prevailed in the industry's marketing.
"n place of heavy-set women constraining themselves in what was essentially equipment, Ms. Bassman deployed immeasurably lithe models, conveying a world in which women seemed to linger in the pleasures of their own sensuality.
"In the period dominated by Avedon and Irving Penn, Ms. Bassman was one of the few female photographers in the fashion business, and her work had a distinctly different cast from the outset, one less distancing.
"Being a woman gave her an advantage, Ms. Bassman felt. 'The models thought about this a lot,' she said. 'It was a sexually very different thing when they worked with men. They felt a charge. They were posing for men. I caught them when they were relaxed, natural, and I spent a lot of time talking to them about their husbands, their lovers, their babies.'"
Elements of her work include:
Short depth of field
Elegant women (whose faces are frequently not-visible)
Dark-room re-touching (which I probably will not be able to re-create)
Both studio and location shooting
Hats, lots of hats (and veils)
Period dress

Lillian Bassman: Images