Amazing Fashion Photography by Lillian Bassman

Lillian Bassman (1917–2012) was a photographer, art director, and painter best known for her work in fashion photography.

Bassman wanted to be a dancer, but an injury to her heel crushed that hope. Instead, she attended a vocational high school and studied textile design. She graduated in 1933.

From the 1940s until the 1960s Bassman worked as a fashion photographer for Junior Bazaar and later at Harper’s Bazaar where she promoted the careers of photographers such as Richard Avedon, Robert Frank, Louis Faurer and Arnold Newman. Under the guidance of the Russian emigrant, Alexey Brodovitch, she began to photograph her model subjects primarily in black and white. Her work was published for the most part in Harper’s Bazaar from 1950 to 1965.

By the 1970s Bassman’s interest in pure form in her fashion photography was out of vogue. She turned to her own photo projects and abandoned fashion photography. In doing so she tossed out 40 years of negatives and prints – her life’s work. A forgotten bag filled with hundreds of images was discovered over 20 years later. Bassman’s fashion photographic work began to be re-appreciated in the 1990s.

The most notable qualities about her photographic work are the high contrasts between light and dark, the graininess of the finished photos, and the geometric placement and camera angles of the subjects. Bassman became one of the last great woman photographers in the world of fashion.

Lillian Bassman

LILLIAN BASSMAN - Translucent Hat, 1950

Lillian Bassman

Translucent Hat, 1950

Lillian Bassman

Barbara Mullen (Blowing Kiss VARIANT), Harper’s Bazaar

Lillian Bassman, More Fashion Mileage per Dress, Barbara Vaughn, New York

Lillian Bassman

More Fashion Mileage per Dress, Barbara Vaughn, New York

LILLIAN BASSMAN - Carmen having tea, circa 1950

Lillian Bassman

Carmen having tea, circa 1950

Lillian Bassman, Southwest Passage - Sunset Pink: Model unknown, pajamas by Kicker Nick

Lillian Bassman

Southwest Passage – Sunset Pink: Model unknown, pajamas

LILLIAN BASSMAN - The Spotted Furs, Barbara Mullen, New York. Harper’s Bazaar, 1954

Lillian Bassman

The Spotted Furs, Barbara Mullen, New York. Harper’s Bazaar, 1954

Lillian Bassman

Lillian Bassman

Wedding Dress

Lillian Bassman

Fantasy on the Dance Floor: Barbara Mullen in a Christian Dior Dress, Paris. Harper’s Bazaar, 1949

Lillian Bassman

LILLIAN BASSMAN - Margie Cato (Test Shoot): New York, circa 1950

Lillian Bassman

Margie Cato (Test Shoot): New York, circa 1950

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2 responses to “Amazing Fashion Photography by Lillian Bassman

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