JIM LEE, UNORTHODOX FASHION PHOTOGRAPHER
Photographer and filmmaker Jim Lee has always kept an ear to the ground – mindful of the zeitgeist and anticipating the trends. But, as with many artists, it is only the benefit of hindsight that reveals some of the most remarkable aspects of his work.
As a fashion photographer in the sixties and seventies, Jim Lee was at the centre of the fashion world, but unlike his contemporaries, he quickly tuned in to the revolutionary changes underway in gender politics. He understood early that women would no longer only have supporting roles in narratives about men. So, rather than treating women like mere mannequins or objects for male desire, Jim made the women the protagonists of their own stories.
IM LEE / ARRESTED: ONE EXHIBITION AND BOOK NOT TO MISS
Having made a name for himself in the 1960s and 70s as a fashion photographer with his surreal and unconventional images, Jim Lee went on to a career in film making. This month a sumptuous new book is published that celebrates his remarkable life and work.
For Jim Lee, fashion photography was always about his models rather than the clothes. On publishing his memoir, this provocateur of the 1960s and 1970s reflects on his work with Ossie Clark and Anna Wintour - and where the likes of 'Vogue' have gone wrong.
I see Lee’s attitude as the polar opposite to that of Helmut Newton. Newton is a mannerist; if the characters he portrays have an inner life it is rendered unknowable by the armour of their self-certainty, like the Duke of Urbino in Bronzino’s portrait in the Pitti Palace. They never lose their cool. Lee’s aesthetic is closer to the baroque. His people are capable of ecstasy, like Bernini’s Saint Teresa who came to mind when I first saw Lee’s Ossie Clark/Vietnam, 1969, or of despair, as in my favourite of his images, Bikini/Beachy Head, also from 1969.
PRESS MATERIAL FROM THE BOOK LAUNCH AND EXHIBITION - LONDON 2012