Lillian Bassman

Lillian bassman was born in 1917 in Brooklyn , New York.
Her parents emigrated from Russia and soon joined a group of free thinking jewish intellectuals. She moved in with her husband Paul Himmel at age 15 and they have been married for over 70 years.


Studied at the Textile Highshool in Manhattan. She poses as a model at the Art Students League for 50 Cents per hour.


Becomes assistant painter at the WPA


marries Paul Himmel


works as freelance textile designer and visits evening classes at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn


shows her fashion illustrations to Alexey Brodovitch, the Art Director at Harper's Bazaar. He accepts her with a special scholarship to the New School, New York into the department graphic design


Brodovitch hires Bassman as his assistant to Harper's Bazaar


She becomes Art Director for Junior Bazaar and gives projects to Richard Avedon, Robert Frank and Paul Himmel


spends her lunch hours in George Hoyningen Huene's dark room to develop her own work, experimenting with different print techniques to achieve her signature graphic soft look


Richard avedon gives her his studio space. Lillian photographs her first lingerie collection and is awarded her first large commercial job. The Harper's Bazaar Trio Carmel Snow, Diana Vreeland and Brodovitch award her the Art Direcor's post at Harper's Bazaar and it becomes the most successful magazine worldwide.


She photographs her first own job for Junior Bazaar.


Richard Avedon throws Lillian Bassman a huge party to celebrate her first jobs abroad.
She starts working with all the famous models of the time.


Paul Himmel and Lillian Bassman open their first own studio. Their son Eric is born.


Daughter Lizzie is born.

1962 – 65

She works less on commercial jobs and starts focusing on personal projects.


She has her first major solo exhibition at Staempfli Gallery, New York showing large scale colour photographs of fruits and vegetables

1975 – 83

Starts experimenting with colour abstract photography


She starts her own highly successful fashion label , selling only at Bloomingdales and Henri Bendel.


David Bailey curates "Shots of Style", where she is one of the selcted artists.


Bassman's neighbour Helen Frankenthaler finds rubbish bags in the back yard, containing mostly destroyed negatives and prints of Lillian Bassman's early fashion work. The british curator Nartin Harrisson persuades her to have a look and reinterpret them.


First solo exhibition at the Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York
Group show at the Palais du Tokyo in Paris


Solo Exhibition at Jane Jackso Gallery in Atlanta
Hommage a Lillian Bassman, Caroussel du Louvre, Paris


She photographs the Haute Couture collection for New York Times Magazine, German Vogue and the Autumn Collection for Neiman Marcus, New York
Solo Exhibition in Milan, Italy
Dem Art Directors Club Award
Agfa Life Time Achievement Award


Solo Exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York
Peter Fetterman Gallery, Los Angeles


Group Exhibition at Prado Garden Madrid


First exhibition with her husband Paul Himmel at Galerie f5.6 in Munich, Germany


"Then and Now", Staley Wise Gallery, New York


Selektion # 1, Galerie f5,6, München
From the Source, Fashion Photographs, Corkin Shopland Gallery, Toronto, Ontario


"Reflections", Staley Wise Gallery, New York


coming up
Lifetime Achievement award at Art Hamptons
KMR gallery in Connecticut.
Staley Wise, New York
Peter Fetterman, Los Angeles
A joint Retrospective with Paul Himmel, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg Museum


Zwei Leben für die Fotografie, Grassi Museum für angewandte Kunst, Leipzig

Works from the Artist