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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
"To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It's a way of life." ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Photographer Profile ~ Lisette Model

Lisette Model (born Elise Amelie Felicie Stern, November 10, 1901 – March 30, 1983) was an Austrian-born American photographer.

She was primarily educated by a series of private tutors, achieving fluency in three languages. At age 19, she began studying music with composer Arnold Schönberg, and was familiar to members of his circle. “If ever in my life I had one teacher and one great influence, it was Schönberg,” she said.

Model left Vienna for Paris after her father’s death in 1924 to study voice with Polish soprano Marya Freund. It was during this period that she met her future husband, the French-Jewish painter Evsa Model. In 1933 she gave up music and recommitted herself to studying visual art, at first taking up painting as a student of Andre Lhote (whose other students included Henri Cartier-Bresson and George Hoyningen-Huene). She also took up photography, taking basic instruction in darkroom techniques from her younger sister Olga Seybert (herself a life-long professional photographer), although Parisian portrait photographer Rogi Andre was the person Model credited with providing her primary instruction in camera techniques.

Visiting her mother in Nice in 1934 (she and Olga had emigrated from Vienna several years prior), Model took her camera out on the Promenade des Anglais and made a series of portraits which are among her most widely reproduced and exhibited images. These close-cropped, often clandestine portraits of the local privileged class already bore what would become her signature style: close-up, unsentimental and unretouched expositions of vanity, insecurity and loneliness.

She married Evsa Model in 1937 and the following year they emigrated to join her husband’s sister in Manhattan. There she supported herself as a photographer, having work published regularly in Harper’s Bazaar by editors Carmel Snow and Alexey Brodovitch. Model eventually became a member of the New York ‘Photo League,’ which would host her first dedicated showing.

In 1951, Model was invited to teach at the New School for Social Research in New York City, where her longtime friend Berenice Abbott was also teaching photography. Model continued to teach until her death in New York City in 1983. [via wiki]

Self Portrait 

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