The Rising Wave of Lee Miller Mania Crests With a Show Devoted to Her Storied Life at Gagosian This Fall

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Lee Miller lived a life of many chapters—a Surrealist in 1930s Paris, a World War II photographer, a model for Vogue, a muse to Man Ray and Picasso.  

This fall, Gagosian will offer a glimpse into the American-born photographer’s private life and world with “Seeing Is Believing: Lee Miller and Friends,” an exhibition of work centered on Miller’s marriage to Roland Penrose, the English Surrealist painter, collector, art historian, and famed Picasso biographer. Curated by Jason Ysenburg and Richard Calvocoressi, “Seeing Is Believing” will open at Gagosian’s Madison Avenue location in New York on November 11, 2023.  

The exhibition will present photographs by both Miller and Penrose as well as pull back to shine a light on their social circle. Over the four decades of their relationship, Miller and Penrose cultivated an influential artistic and literary milieu during time spent in the South of France, London, and traveling in the U.S. After moving to East Sussex in 1949, the couple earned reputations as spectacular hosts—Picasso, Man Ray, and Max Ernst were among the couple’s many guests at their home known as Farleys House. Reflecting the centrality of these friendships in the couple’s lives, the exhibition also presents paintings, sculptures, photographs, and works on paper by these artists, plus Joseph Cornell, Dora Maar, Henry Moore, and Valentine Penrose.  

The exhibition coincides with a moment of renewed fascination with Lee Miller as an artist and person.  

The highly anticipated film LEE, directed by Ellen Kuraswhich stars Kate Winslet as Miller during her years as a war correspondent and photographer—debuts at the Toronto International Film Festival this week. The film is based on the book The Lives of Lee Miller (1985) by Antony Penrose, the couple’s son. Meanwhile, Love Letters Bound in Gold Handcuffs, a hitherto unreleased collection of correspondence between Miller and Penrose, was released in the U.K. in July and is hitting shelves in the U.S. in November. The intimate letters reveal the depth of love, laughter, and tragedy that marked the couple’s 40-year relationship. “Seeing Is Believing” will likewise feature mementos of Miller and Penrose’s life together, including letters, albums, and ephemera that offer new insights into the couple’s private world.

“Seeing Is Believing: Lee Miller and Friends” runs November 11–December 23, 2023, at Gagosian Gallery, 976 Madison Avenue, New York

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