At ‘The Spirit of Lee Miller’ vernissage at Belle Beau Gallery on Wednesday 6th of July,
there will be an ‘In Conversation’ between Misia-O’ and Ami Bouhassane, Lee Miller’s
granddaughter and Co-director of Farleys House & Gallery Ltd, the company that manages
the Lee Miller Archives.
‘The Spirit of Lee Miller’ by Misia-O’ is a new exhibition featuring a capsule portrait
photography series. ‘The Spirit of Lee Miller’ photography exhibition is the first of a series
dedicated to female artists eclipsed by their titles of Muses. ‘The Spirit’ of Lee Miller’ is the
6th consecutive exhibition of Misia-O’ during Les Rencontres d’Arles, following ‘Different
Shades of Black’ in 2019, ‘Different Shades of White’ in 2021, and ‘Different Shades of
Yellow’ in 2020, for which Misia-O’ was awarded the prestigious ‘Prix du Jury’ by le Salon
des Beaux Arts.
After being discovered by Conde Nast in New York in the 1920’s. Lee Miller became a
favourite Vogue model, and later on a model for famous photographers and artists such as
Steichen, Cocteau, Picasso, and Man Ray. She went behind the camera, opened her first
portrait studio in Paris 1930 and became a portrait, advertising and fashion photographer for
Vogue and other magazines (including Vanity Fair, Lilliput, Picture Post and LIFE), during
the 30s and 40s.
In the 1929 Miller moved to Paris where she met Surrealist Man Ray, she quickly became
his student, lover and collaborator before opening her own studio in the city. Miller
discovered the solarisation technique by accident and developed it further with Man Ray.
Miller’s beauty and relationships with well-known artists and perceived role as ‘muse’ often
overshadowed her incredible accomplishments as a surrealist, portrait and fashion
photographer and war correspondent with US forces during World War II. Miller was one of
a handful of female war correspondents with the Allied troops, and thought to be the only
one that was attached to the US Army that covered combat. For some of her war reportage
she teamed up with Life Magazine photographer David E Scherman. Miller was living in
Hitler’s private apartment in Munich when his death was announced. There she took the
iconic self-portrait in Hitler’s bath. On the floor by the bath stand Miller’s boots, covered with
the filth of Dachau prison camp which she had come from that morning.
In the later part of her life, Miller turned to surrealist cooking in her home, Farleys, England,
where the Lee Miller Archives are held and managed by her son Antony Penrose and
granddaughter Ami Bouhassane.
The exhibition will take place from 4th to 31st July at Belle Beau Gallery, an art and
photography gallery located in a 17th century Hôtel Particulier in the heart of Arles, during
the festival of Les Rencontres d’Arles. Ami Bouhassane, Lee Miller’s granddaughter, and
Co-director of Lee Miller Archives will talk with Misia-O’ about Misia-O’s work, as well as her
grandmother’s intrepid life and career as a photographer, during an invitation only
vernissage on Wednesday 6th of July at Belle Beau Gallery.
Misia-O’ says: “I discovered the works of Lee Miller aged 11. My Mother had bought me
a Surrealist book featuring solarised portraits that looked magical to me, and I found Lee’s
"Fire Masks" intriguing. This led me to discover Surrealism and my love for photography and
of the 1930's. Furthermore, and as importantly, I admire Lee's talent and I can relate to her
free spirit and photographic style.
Bypassing her beauty, which for a while turned her into the Muse of famous male artists, she
went behind the camera, and became an independent and talented photographer. As a
female war photographer, her courage and humanity during the war was remarkable. If
anything, Lee Miller proves that brain, beauty and talent are absolutely possible as she
managed this in the 30's and 40's, an era known for not giving female artists the credit they
deserved. Her legacy is deeply inspiring, and it is an honour to pay tribute to her.”
Misia-O’ is not only an accomplished photographer, and MA student at the prestigious Royal
College of Art, is also an Artisan Parfumer whose unique scented creations encapsulate the
essence of her photography subject. For her ‘The Spirit of Lee Miller’ exhibition in Arles,
Misia-O’ has created a perfume as a tribute to Miller’s free, spirited soul and her talent as a
unique and ground-breaking photographer. The scent, like Lee Miller, celebrates her
hypnotic, sensual, independent and even rebellious nature with complex notes revealing her
refreshing and intoxicating ‘garçonne’ nature.
To accompany the exhibition, Misia-O’ has also created a special collector’s limited edition of
handmade ‘The Spirit of Lee Miller’ art photography books, containing a curated selection of
Misia-O’s images and poems, which are inspired by Lee’s career as a model, a muse and
Misia’O’s exhibition ‘The Spirit of Lee Miller’ coincides serendipitously with a major
retrospective at l’Espace Van Gogh in Arles during Les Rencontres d’Arles: ‘Lee Miller:
Professional Photographer’ (1932-1945) which will focus on the most prolific periods of
Miller’s life, featuring her fashion & advertising photography and portraits, as well as her
more gritty photojournalism, including powerful images captured in Dachau and Buchenwald
during World War II.
For more information go to: www.thespiritofleemiller.co