Visual Art preview: Lee Miller and Picasso

Photographs from Lee Miller Archive capture the enduring friendship of two major artists

Lee Miller and Picasso

Pablo Picasso and Lee Miller after the liberation of Paris, Rue de Grand Augustins, Paris, France, 1944 / credit: Lee Miller

When Lee Miller met Pablo Picasso in 1937, it was a meeting of minds that lasted more than three decades up until Picasso's death in 1973. Somewhere in-between the pair became mutual muses, with Miller photographing Picasso more than a thousand times, while Miller was painted by Picasso numerous times.

The bond between these two major artists is made clear in Lee Miller and Picasso, a major new exhibition in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery's Robert Mapplethorpe Gallery, and which forms part of the SNPG's 2015 Season of Photography. More than 100 images and objects selected from the Lee Miller Archive will highlight Miller and Picasso's friendship during turbulent times, and will include the wedding photograph of Miller and English surrealist Roland Penrose.

'Miller and Picasso's legacy is still very much with us,' explains the show's curator Annie Lyden, 'and their enduring friendship shows what it was like to be around at that time in history through these very intimate photographs. There are lots of images taken of Picasso and his friends and colleagues, but very few of Miller and him together.'

The two that stand-out of these for Lyden show off how Miller and Picasso's friendship was sustained despite long periods apart. 'One is from 1944,' Lyden says, 'when Lee was working with the armed forces during the liberation of Paris, and realises she's just round the corner from Picasso's studio so she goes and sees him. There's a very tender look between them, and you can see the joy and relief of them finding one another again. The second is from 1970, and there's this look that's shared, and after everything they've been through, you can see the passing of time.'

Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 23 May−Sun 6 Sep

Lee Miller and Picasso

The photographer and sometime model Lee Miller took more than 1000 photographs of Picasso, and he in turn painted her portrait six times. This show features approximately 100 of Miller's images as well as a painting and drawing by Picasso, and explores the long friendship between a great artist and an extraordinary…

Opening Lecture: Lee Miller and Picasso

Antony Penrose, director of the Lee Miller Archives (and the son of the late, great photographer), talks about the relationship of Lee Miller and Pablo Picasso. Booking is essential.

Lee Miller - Battle Scars: Friends Behind Enemy Lines

Artists and friends, Lee Miller and Picasso were both outsiders. In This talk Roberta McGrath, Reader in Photographic History, Theory and Criticism at Napier looks at their long relationship through the photographs and paintings on display. She has written widely on the sexual politics of representation, published essays…

Cutting Up Picasso - Cubism and Lee Miller's Collage

Dr Patricia Allmer, Chancellor's Fellow, Edinburgh College of Art, will explore Lee Miller's Collage - a little known 1937 work Miller made in Mougins in response to Picasso's portrayals of her, of other women surrealists, and of wider artistic and art historical networks in which Miller and Picasso were involved.

Gallery Social - Lee Miller and Picasso

A relaxed and informal guided tour with refreshments for anyone affected by dementia and their relatives, friends and supporters.


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