Born in Vienna in 1901, Lisette Model was an influential figure in mid-twentieth century photography, best known for her direct portrayal of the peculiarities of average people captured candidly in everyday situations. Her work was regularly published in publications such as Harper’s Bazaar and included in the 1940 inaugural photography exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Once her work went public, Model inspired other photographers to challenge some of the prevailing conventions of the time.
Initially trained as a musician, she became a photographer in the early 1930s, some nine years after having moved to France. She discovered photography in Paris and joined André Kertész’s circle of artists. Although Model made photographs over a period of almost 50 years, from 1934 to 1983, the works selected for this exhibition reflect only the most significant stages of her career, from her early social documentary photographs taken on the streets of Paris and Nice in the early 1930s through to her later New York work.
Model’s bold, lively images, which sometimes verge on the satirical, are a record of her encounters with people and street life in Paris, Nice, and New York. Advocating a subjective interpretive approach to photography, one of Model’s most oft-quoted directives to her students was “Shoot from the gut!” Model was also known for the profound impact that her work and teaching had upon the legendary twentieth-century photographer Diane Arbus.
Comprising 71 photographs from the collection of 293 prints from the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada, the works are grouped thematically, from Model’s early street photographs in Paris, to the bolder and more satirical portraits taken along the Promenade des Anglais, to her iconic images of Coney Island bathers, patrons of Sammy’s Bar, and the Running Legs series.
Lisette Model: Photographs from the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada is on view at the Boca Raton Museum of Art from April 24 through October 21, 2018. Details, related events, and tickets are online at www.bocamuseum.org/lisette-model.