Lillian Bassman (American, 1917—2012)
Lillian Bassman is one of the great 20th century fashion photographers along with Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. She began her career not as a photographer but as a painter at the WPA and then took courses at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. In 1945, Bassman was appointed Art Director at Junior Bazaar, giving projects to photographers such as Richard Avedon, Robert Frank and Paul Himmel (her husband). Later in 1947, she became the Art Director at Harper’s Bazaar, and her work appeared in Harper’s Bazaar throughout the 1940’s and 50’s.
Her work was nearly destroyed in the 70’s by a water leak in her studio, and it was not until the 1990’s that her work was revived. With this new spotlight, Bassman received the Agfa Life Time Achievement Award and the Dem Art Directors Club Award in 1996. During the same year, Bassman began photographing again when she was asked to photograph the Haute Couture collection for New York Times Magazine, the Autumn Collection for Neiman Marcus, as well as work for German Vogue. Her work has been exhibited worldwide.