Bassman’s Photography Back in Fashion and on Exhibit

  • Sheila Gibson Stoodley

Lillian Bassman’s 1950s-era black-and-white fashion pictures of confident, well-dressed women were bound to come back into style. Fortunately, she lived to see them embraced as fine art. After her work was rediscovered in the 1990s, the photographer returned her now-vintage images to the darkroom and, in her words, “reinterpreted” them in a series of limited-edition prints. When Bassman died in February at the age of 94, the Bassman show that Peter Fetterman had been preparing for his eponymous Santa Monica, Calif., gallery instantly became a memorial.

Lillian Bassman: A Life, 1917–2012 continues at the Peter Fetterman Gallery until June 9 and places special emphasis on her lingerie photographs. Among her finest is “It’s a Cinch,” which pictures a model in profile, grasping her corset strings behind her back. “She wanted to do something very beautiful, very lyrical, and very edgy, and she managed to do all three while making her client happy,” says Fetterman. For the print version, she darkened the blacks and softened details such as the dangling garter straps. “She’s creating a dreamlike image,” he says. “It’s almost like a chalk drawing.” Prices range from $4,500 to $40,000. (310.453.6463, www.peterfetterman.com)

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