Corsets, garter belts, girdles, slips, and stockings…vintage lingerie photographed and transformed into unique works of art by Lillian Bassman.
Lillian Bassman’s lingerie-themed photographs capture the viewer with their stark contrast, graceful lines, and vivid texture. She had the ability to blend commercial and artistic techniques, showcasing the grace in female movement that, she said, “usually passes unnoticed in everyday life”. Most of her work was done during the 1940s-1950s for numerous lingerie ads and Harper’s Bazaar fashion spreads. A female fashion photographer was rare in those days, but this gave Bassman the ability to develop special relationships with her models, putting them at ease in a way that male photographers could not. This trust (she would also send her male technician out of the room for lingerie shots), her preference for “real” locations, natural light, and her signature darkroom manipulations gave her portraits a dreamy, ethereal feel.
Bassman became disillusioned with fashion photography in the late 1960s and left the fashion world behind until the 1990s when she took a renewed interest in her archive. She printed and doctored the images she had loved, but editors had not and transformed them into original works of art. The transformed photographs are poetic, delicate, and they capture the very essence of femininity.