Monday 5/02/2005


Lisette Model was born into a wealthy Viennese family. Her father was Italian-Austrian and her mother French. Consequently her education was an international one, learning to speak three languages, travelling a great deal, being educated by private tutors rather than in droll unimaginative plebian know it all public schools. Music was always an important part of her family’s life. In her early teens, she studied with the composer Arnold Schoenberg and lived for several years within the circle of his friends.
After the death of her father, Model moved to Paris where she continued her musical education. While living in Paris two very important events took place: she married the painter Evsa Model, and she began to take photographs. In those early days of her photographic career she learned a lesson which was of the greatest importance to her photography: "Never take a picture of anything you are not passionately interested in."
Model’s first pictures were published in the United States in late 1940 by Cue, a weekly magazine devoted to activities in New York City. They were of multiple reflections in the plate-glass windows of fashionable Fifth Avenue shops. Sometime later her Riviera pictures were published in P.M. Magazine under the title "Why France Fell." The pictures created a sensation but Model was appalled at the editorial slant that had been given them. "I know why France fell and it was for many complex reasons. It certainly was not because of these rich bourgeoisie types."
In 1942, Look published her photographs of an open air patriotic rally in downtown New York under the title "Their Boys are Fighting." Model pictures also appeared in The Ladies Home Journal, Vogue, The Saturday Evening Post, Popular Photography, Modern Photography, U. S. Camera, Cosmopolitan and other magazines.
The first one-person show of her work was held at the Photo League in 1941, followed by one-person shows at the Chicago Art Institute and the San Francisco Palace of the Legion of Honor. Her photographs have appeared in several exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art from 1940 on.

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