Lillian Bassman  (American, 1917-2012) 

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Lillian Bassman (American, June 15, 1917–February 13, 2012) was a photographer, art director, and painter best known for her work in fashion photography. Bassman grew up in Brooklyn, NY, as a product of Jewish immigrants who had come to the United States from Russia early in the century. She graduated in 1922 from Textile High School, where she had received formal training.

While attending the Manhattan school, Bassman was introduced to fellow photographer Paul Himmel (American, 1914–2009), whom she later married in 1935. The two remained together for 73 years until Himmel's death. Bassman had a thriving career as a fashion photographer for Junior Bazaar and Harper's Bazaar in the three decades that followed; she primarily created black-and-white images to offer a stronger contrast between her subjects and the clothes being displayed. This approach was unique at the time, and Bassman's work was groundbreaking, allowing for a more artistic approach in an industry that traditionally had strict formats. Through her groundbreaking work, Bassman was able to help launch the careers of other renowned photographers such as Richard Avedon (American, 1923–2004).

She shifted gears in the early 1970s in response to changing tastes, opting to create her own photo projects and disposing of most of her previous work in the process. In developing these projects, Bassman adapted her skills to incorporate new technologies, using digital photography and photo manipulation software to enhance her work, always emphasizing the contrast between light and dark. Other notable aspects of her work include the graininess of the pictures and the use of geometrics in her subject placement. Interest in her work for Harper's Bazaar was renewed in the 1990s when some photos thought lost were found in the magazine's archives. Her work has been displayed in prominent galleries such as the Stämpfli Gallery in New York, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the Garden Prado in Madrid. Her final exhibition was entitled Retrospective, and was held at London's The Wapping Project in 2010. Bassman passed away in 2012.

Find Lillian Bassman artworks for sale worldwide, artworks that sold at auction, a detailed biography, and more information on the artist below.
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Artworks for sale (12)
In Art Galleries (12)
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In Past Auctions (146)

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Artworks for sale (12)

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Lillian Bassman, Untitled

 

Lillian Bassman
Untitled
Hamburg Kennedy Photographs
Lillian Bassman, It’s A Cinch: Carmen, lingerie by Warner’s

 

Lillian Bassman
It’s A Cinch: Carmen, lingerie by Warner’s
1951

Staley-Wise Gallery
Lillian Bassman, The Mold of the Princess- Everything Black and Lacy: Model unknown, lingerie by Lily of France, Harper’s Bazaar

 

Lillian Bassman
The Mold of the Princess- Everything Black and Lacy: Model unknown, lingerie by Lily of France, Harper’s Bazaar
1954

Staley-Wise Gallery
Lillian Bassman, Betty Beihn: Nude I

 

Lillian Bassman
Betty Beihn: Nude I
2012

Staley-Wise Gallery
Lillian Bassman, Spider Legs: Model unknown, mid- 1960s

 

Lillian Bassman
Spider Legs: Model unknown, mid- 1960s
Staley-Wise Gallery
Lillian Bassman, Southwest Passage - Sunset Pink: Model unknown, pajamas by Kicker Nick

 

Lillian Bassman
Southwest Passage - Sunset Pink: Model unknown, pajamas by Kicker Nick
1951

Staley-Wise Gallery
Lillian Bassman, Translucent Hat

 

Lillian Bassman
Translucent Hat
1950

Jackson Fine Art
Lillian Bassman, Barbara Mullen (Blowing Kiss VARIANT), Harper's Bazaar,

 

Lillian Bassman
Barbara Mullen (Blowing Kiss VARIANT), Harper's Bazaar,
circa 1950

Jackson Fine Art
Lillian Bassman, Margie Cato (Test Shoot): New York

 

Lillian Bassman
Margie Cato (Test Shoot): New York
1950

Jackson Fine Art
Past auction results (146)  View All
Lillian Bassman, Night bloom, Anneliese Seubert Ball Gown by John Galliano for Heaute Couture Givenchy, Paris

 

Lillian Bassman
Night bloom, Anneliese Seubert Ball Gown by John Galliano for Heaute Couture Givenchy, Paris, 1996
photographs, silver print

 

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Lillian Bassman, The Cost of Living, Barbara Mullen, dress by Omar Kiam, for Ben Reig, New York

 

Lillian Bassman
The Cost of Living, Barbara Mullen, dress by Omar Kiam, for Ben Reig, New York, 1950
gelatin silver print

 

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Lillian Bassman, Born to Dance, Dress by Emily Wilkins

 

Lillian Bassman
Born to Dance, Dress by Emily Wilkins, 1950
gelatin silver print

 

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1917   Born: Brooklyn, NY
1933   Studied at the Textile Highshool in Manhattan
1934   Becomes assistant painter at the WPA
1939   Classes at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn
1945   Art Director for Junior Bazaar giving projects to photographers Richard Avedon, Robert Frank, and Paul Himmel
1947   Appointed Art Director’s post at Harper’s Bazaar
1996   Agfa Life Time Achievement Award
1996   Dem Art Directors Club Award
1996   Photographs the Haute Couture collection for New York Times Magazine, German Vogue, and the Autumn Collection for Neiman Marcus, New York
2005   Galerie f5,6, München
2004   Staley Wise Gallery, New York
2003   Galerie f5.6 in Munich, Germany
2002   Prado Garden, Madrid, Spain
1997   Fashion Institute of Technology, New York (solo)
1997   Peter Fetterman Gallery, Los Angeles
1996   Milan, Italy (solo)
1994   Jane Jackso Gallery in Atlanta (solo)
1994   “Hommage a Lillian Bassman” Caroussel du Louvre, Paris
1993   Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York (solo)
1993   Palais du Tokyo in Paris