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Lillian Bassman


Born 1917, Brooklyn, New York; died 2012, Manhattan, New York.


Lillian Bassman became one of the most influential fashion photographers of the 1940s and 50s while working under the tutelage of the legendary art director Alexey Brodovitch at Harper’s Bazaar. Her sense of artistry and movement redefined fashion photography and gave sophistication to what had been a fairly staid medium. In the 1970s she abandoned commercial work but continued to practice photography for the rest of her life. Bassman developed a unique style through her high-contrast black and white images and her dark room techniques in which she would blur and bleach the images, giving them a mysterious, dreamlike quality.  In the 1990s she was asked to photograph the Haute Couture collection for The New York Times Magazine, marking her return to fashion photography and the renewed commercial interest in her style. Her art has enjoyed a revival that has placed her squarely at the forefront of the history of fashion art photography.


Bassman’s work is held in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Center for Photography, Woodstock, New York, among others.

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