Lillian Bassman

“It’s a Cinch’ Carmen, New York, Harper’s Bazaar, September 1951
© Lillian Bassman

Lillian Bassman

Silver Gelatin Print


In 1940 Lillian Bassman, who was then a fashion illustrator, joined Brodovitch’s classes at the New School for Social Research on a scholarship. After just a few weeks Brodovitch suggested she switch from fashion drawing to graphic design, and by the end of the year he made her his apprentice at Harper’s Bazaar. After convincing him that she was not in a position to work without remuneration, she negotiated a deal and became his first salaried assistant in 1941.

Between 1945 to its discontinuation in 1948 Bassman was the art director for Junior Bazaar. In 1946 she began illustrating her ideas for the magazine with her own photographs. Harper’s Bazaar published her work in 1949 and throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s. Advertisers, especially of lingerie, fabric, and cosmetics recognised her ability to photograph women in a sympathetic and feminine way, which resulted in a great demand for her work.

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