Shortly following the death of acclaimed fashion photographer, Lillian Bassman, at the age of 94, the Staley-Wise Gallery is currently displaying an intriguing and captivating collection of her works. Originally a textile designer and fashion illustrator, and eventually moving on to Harper’s Bazaar as a photographer, her images are developed and finished in her very unique style, in the dark room. Sadly, as the progression of technology etc. has moved forward, so has the move away from the darkroom to technologically easier methods of correction. Even here in NY, at the Parsons school for photography, the color dark room has been closed, only leaving the black and white dark room.
Bassman’s work appeared in Harper’s from the 1940’s to the 1960’s, and stands tall and apart from other photographers, and is transformed into fine art through her unique darkroom techniques, in which she “blurs and bleaches the images, investing them with poetry, mystery, and glamour” according to the Staley-Wise Gallery.
Her work has been predominantly lingerie themed, and they captivate the viewer with their sensual nature, developed through the pure beauty of the photograph, but also the fascinating manipulation Bassman achieved through her darkroom techniques among her other editing tools. Her “alchemist methods” in the darkroom, technical processes that are basically impossible to recreate from one print to the other, make each and every one of her works not just a piece of photography finished with a digital snap, but ones that are truly groundbreaking art.
As I walked in and saw the beautiful exhibition, I was enchanted and hypnotized (And I see a lot of photography exhibitions, art exhibitions). Sultry and sexy, without even a hint of vulgarity. Check out the exhibition at the Staley-Wise gallery if you happen to find yourself in this lovely city at 560 Broadway, ongoing through May 26th, 2012.