The Schmooze

Rediscovering Free-spirited Photographers Lillian Bassman and Paul Himmel

At 92, Brooklyn-born Lillian Bassman and her husband Paul Himmel, who died last year at age 94, are enjoying remarkable, if belated, fame.

“Lillian Bassman: Women,” a lavish new volume by Deborah Solomon, highlights Bassman’s elegantly abstract black-and-white fashion photographs from the 1940s through the 1960s for magazines like Harper’s Bazaar. Solomon also notes the extreme elegance of Bassman’s willfully blurred imagery, which expresses the verve of Abstract Expressionist painters like Franz Kline. “Lillian Bassman & Paul Himmel,” edited by Ingo Taubhorn and Brigitte Woischnik, is an English/German dual language look at both creators that accompanied an exhibit in Hamburg, Germany’s Haus der Photographie.

Paul (born Motel) Himmel came from a colorful family; his Aunt Esther, a Coney Island snake charmer, married a sideshow “armless and legless wonder.” A comparably free spirit, but with legs and arms, Bassman worked as a nude model in the 1930s for Chaim Gross, as well as Raphael and Moses Soyer.

Recommend this article

Rediscovering Free-spirited Photographers Lillian Bassman and Paul Himmel

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close
Close