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Lilian Bassman: Lingerie

Category: Hot spot April 12th, 2012
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We have opportunity to look at lingerie styles of the 1950s and 1960s and we have to be thankful to Lillian Bassman, the legendary New York fashion photographer who died in February at age 94. Bassman shot many of the commercial campaigns for major brands of that era and her savoury lingerie portraits changed the way lingerie was both accepted and appreciated. Now,80 of those black-and-white images, collected and curated by Bassman shortly before her death, are presented in the new book Lillian Bassman: Lingerie, released last month by Abrams Books.

Lilian Bassman:Lingerie is a book of a great fashion photographer who has changed the way lingerie was seen and accepted.

The book’s publication coincides with an exhibition of Bassman’s lingerie prints on display at the Staley-Wise Gallery in New York from April 12 to May 26, and at the Peter Fetterman Gallery in Santa Monica until June 9.

Bassman avoided the still catalogue photographs that characterized most lingerie photography of the post-war years, focusing instead on the women in her shots and their unpremeditated sexuality and sensuality. Many of her portraits carry small, oblique stories that hint at the inner essence of women’s lives.

Her contemporary Richard Avedon said:

Bassman made visible that heartbreaking invisible place between the appearance and the disappearance of things”.

The Guardian, in its obituary last month, called Bassman’s pictures “reveries about the secret lives of women.”

Bassman’s bequest can be met everywhere today. Many of her campaigns bravely showed lingerie as fashion garments, not just as clothing pieces meant to be concealed and seldom seen.

That aesthetic sense can be seen in runway shows from many of the world’s leading fashion houses. Thank you, Lilian Bassman…


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