The Artist Birthday Series

Lillian Bassman

Today’s Artist Birthday: Lillian Bassman

Lillian Bassman (June 15, 1917 – February 13, 2012) was a magazine art director and fashion photographer who achieved renown in the 1940s and ’50s with high-contrast, dreamy portraits of sylphlike models, and then who re-emerged in the ’90s as a fine-art photographer after a cache of her lost negatives resurfaced.

Lillian Bassman, self portrait

Lillian Violet Bassman was born on June 15, 1917, in Brooklyn and grew up in the Bronx. Her parents, Jewish intellectuals who had emigrated from Russia, allowed her a bohemian style of life, even letting her move in, at 15, with the man she would later marry, the documentary photographer Paul Himmel. (The couple first met at Coney Island when she was 6 years old and he was 9. They met again when she was 13, and started living together when she was 15 in 1932. They were married in 1935, and remained married until Himmel died in 2009, after 73 years of marriage.)

bassman and himmel
A lifetime of love, Lillian Bassman and Paul Himmel enjoyed 73 years of happy marriage.


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