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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Lisette Model

Born: Elise Felice Amélie Seybert 
Other: Elise Stern 
Dates:  1901, 10 November - 1983, 30 March
Born:  Austria, Vienna
Died:  US, NY, New York City
Active:  US
American woman photographer born in Austria.

Preparing biographies

Biography provided by Focal Press 
Born to affluence in Austria, Model studied music and voice, had private tutors and learned photography as a practical skill (introduced to the medium by her sister, Olga). Moved to Paris (1922–1937); first significant photographs were of tourists at the French Riviera in Nice. Emigrated to New York (1937) where her camera work was encouraged by Brodovitch and Beaumont Newhall, garnering her commercial assignments as well as exhibition venues. She sought out the support of the Photo League and became an active member (investigated by the FBI in 1954 for leftist leanings). She is primarily known for her black and white candid street portraits, unsuspecting subjects captured in a revealing pose and attitude, sometimes in a slightly offset or askew frame. In America, her favorite subjects were people at Coney Island and the Lower East Side. Many images have a slightly "grotesque" aspect partly due to Model’s selection of bodies and physiognomy and partly to cropping and high-contrast lighting. Freelance assignments were published in Look, Harper’s Bazaar, PM Weekly, and Ladies Home Journal. Her considerable influence extended through the university as she taught photography at New School for Social Research, New York, from 1950 until her death. Prominent students included Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, and Larry Fink. 
(Author: Ken White - Rochester Institute of Technology) 
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 

Further research

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Juno Gemes
Lisette Model 
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.

Visual indexes

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Visual indexes for this photographer are available for subscribers.There is so much more to explore when you subscribe. 

Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer.Show on this siteGo to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
Show on this siteGo to website
The Cleveland Museum of Art, USA has a biography on this photographer. [Scroll down the page on this website as the biography may not be immediately visible.]Show on this siteGo to website

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.331-332 
• Evans, Martin Marix (Executive ed.) 1995 Contemporary Photographers [Third Edition] (St. James Press - An International Thomson Publishing Company) [Expensive reference work but highly informative.] 
• International Center of Photography 1999 Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection (New York: A Bulfinch Press Book) p.222 [Includes a well written short biography on Lisette Model with example plate(s) earlier in book.] 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Lisette Model.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Lahs-Gonzales, Olivia & Lippard, Lucy 1997 Defining Eye: Women Photographers of the 20th Century. Selections from the Helen Kornblum Collection (Saint Louis Art Museum, D.A.P.) [Lisette Model is included in this overview of women photographers.] 
• Naef, Weston 1995 The J. Paul Getty Museum - Handbook of the Photographic Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) p.191 
• Newhall, Beaumont 1982 The History of Photography - Fifth Edition (London: Secker & Warburg) [One or more photographs by Lisette Model are included in this classic history.] 
• Szarkowski, John 1973 Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (New York: The Museum of Modern Art) p.128 [Analyzes a single photograph by Lisette Model.] 


Photographic collections are a useful means of examining large numbers of photographs by a single photographer on-line. 

In the 1990 survey of 535 American photographic collections Lisette Model was represented in 45 of the collections. Source: Andrew H. Eskind & Greg Drake (eds.) 1990 Index to American Photographic Collections [Second Enlarged Edition] (Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall & Co.) 


The wit and wisdom.

"Photography through the camera is an instrument of detection. We photograph not only what we know, but also what we don‘t know."
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