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The Artist’s Home Undone by Joelle Jameson

When an image comes between artists Man Ray and Lee Miller it is painted to situate the power dynamic inherent in their collaboration. Decades later, the painting’s meaning changes as its complicated authorship is brought to light.

 

What happens when bad people make good art?

Man Ray’s photography made Elizabeth “Lee” Miller’s face and body world famous. Yet one photograph in particular nearly didn’t survive: 1930’s Neck is a haunting view of Miller’s profile craning from the side, neck and face forming one ethereal, phallic column slanted against a void. Miller fished the negative out of the trash moments after it was discarded, and developed it in the same session, employing the bold cropping method she had learned from Man Ray to make a striking final product. Then she informed him that she was claiming it as her own work..

In The Artist’s Home Undone writer Joelle Jameson explains that “as we grapple with the question of what to do with the art of men who hurt women, it’s instructive to sit with Le Logis de l’Artiste and its depiction of a literal altar to male genius—a concept that individuals and institutions still fight fiercely to preserve.”

 

Joelle Jameson is an art critic and poet living in Salem, Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in ÆQAI, the Houston Press, Salamander, Measure, and numerous other publications. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College.

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