Lillian Bassman was born on the 15th of June 1917 in New York, to a Jewish couple who moved from Ukraine to America in 1905. She was an American photographer and painter. Lillian Bassman grew up in Brooklyn and Greenwich Village, New York. She studied at the Textile High School and graduated from there in 1933.

From the 1940’s to the 1960’s, Lillian Bassman worked as a fashion photographer for Junior Bazaar and later, Harper’s Bazaar, where she promoted the careers of known photographers like Richard Avedon, Robert Frank, Louis Faurer and Arnold Newman. Bassman began to photograph primarily using black and white effects. Most of her work from 1950-1965 was published in Harper’s Bazaar.

In the 1970’s Lillian Bassman decided to abandon fashion photography, therefore putting aside all her life’s work, which she reused in 1990. During the 90’s Bassman worked with digital technology and used abstract colour photography to create a new series of work and she also used photoshop to manipulate images. Her most admired qualities in her pictures are the contrasts between light and dark, the size of finished photos and the camera angles. Lillian Bassman was one of the last great woman photographers in the world of fashion. In fact, she was known as one of the most important fashion photographers of the 20th century.

Bassman met her husband, the photographer Paul Himmel at Coney Island when she was six years old. They met again seven years later and got married in 1935. Himmel died in 2009 after 73 years of marriage.

One of Lillian Bassman’s first exhibitions was called Vanite, which took place at Palais de Tokyo, in 1993. Her latest exhibition was in 2010 in London and it was simply called Retrospective. The exhibition was held at The Wrapping Project.

Lillian Bassman died on the 13th of February 2012, in Manhattan, New York, at the age of 94.

All the pictures in this page are by Lillian Bassman. All rights reserved to the author.


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