7 Mar-10 May 2008. The Otto Zoo Art Gallery displays a selection of works from 1930 to 2000 by Lillian Bassman (b. 1917) and Paul Himmel (b. 1914). The couple, who married in 1935, made American photography history with their fashion images and reportages.
Both descend from intellectual, Russian families and were pupils of the graphic artist and talent-scout Alexey Brodovitch. These fanciful, eclectic and restless bohemians are perfectionists and share a strong style.
Bassman is as a self-taught fashion photographer, later art director for Junior Bazaar. This rarified aesthete focuses on the long necks and hand gestures of her models, who form blurred silhouettes. In the darkroom she treats negatives with acids so that the colour fades and creates evocative, moody and elegant black-and-whites. Famous designers loved her ability to reproduce the elegance of dress and she shot campaigns for Chanel and Balenciaga.
Himmel was a fashion photographer who then turned to dance and is appreciated for his graphic, raw, immediate style. He is interested in the movement of the image, as testified by his series of pictures portraying people at the Grand Central Station of NY,
At the end of the 1960s the two artists gave up commercial photography in protest against the rules imposed by fashion industry. Bassman then turned to painting and Himmel to psychotherapy. However they are now successfully showing what remains of their early photographic work internationally.
This exhibition also displays pictures by their daughter, Lizzie, and by their grandson, Nick.