Lee Miller

Aesthetica Magazine

Lee Miller (1907-77) led a relentlessly cosmopolitan life. She knew Max Ernst and Paul Éluard, counted Jean Cocteau, Joan Miró, and Pablo Picasso among friends. As a teenager in America, her face papered the cover of Vogue. Miller moved to France in 1929, working with Man Ray as a model and apprentice. Soon she had her own studio in New York, where she photographed a young Joseph Cornell and the first African American opera, its libretto penned by Gertrude Stein. Marrying an Egyptian businessman, Miller began again in Cairo. Here she shot landscapes, enclosed by empty picture frames. The voids mirrored the state of her heart. When the marriage ended on amicable terms, after a Cornish affaire de cœur with the surrealist Roland Penrose, Miller flourished as a war correspondent. She covered the Blitz and its aftermath; captured the liberation of Paris; documented the shaved, humiliated heads of female collaborators. Miller settled, finally, in Sussex, but did not idle, reinventing herself as a renowned cook…