Bassman Wrote Herself Back Into The History Books At

1. Barbara Mullen, for Harper's Bazaar, New York, circa 1958.

2. Dress by Thierry Mugler, for German Vogue, 1998.

1. Barbara Mullen, for Harper's Bazaar, New York, circa 1958.

2. Dress by Thierry Mugler, for German Vogue, 1998.

Barbara Mullen Vogue

still unfairly dominated by men. Yet photographers such as Ellen von Unwerth, Inez van l.amsweerde, and Bettina Rheims enjoy a level of success that Bassman could only have dreamed of when she was starting out in the 1940s. A forceful woman working in a man's postwar New York world, Bassman fought to define her place alongside Brodovitch, with whom she helped establish the modern glossy magazine. "He was a monster, really," she admits, recalling a poster she designed for the Museum of Modern Art that Brodovitch took complete credit for. Yet she also insists the two had "complete sympathy for each other's taste and sensibilities." Brodovitch hounded Bassman to come work for him, even agreeing lo pay her despite the fact that he'd always favored women interns who would bend to his will and work for free. And when the two designers went before Harper's editor-in-chief Carmel Snow, Bassman often played Brodovitch's bulldog. "He would never fight for what he wanted, but I was a fighter and it was my job to stand up for him," she says.

II was the generosity of "Dick" Avedon that set the wheels of Bassman's photography career in motion. Avedon and his first wife, Doe, shared a summer home on Fire Island with Bassman and her husband, photographer Paul Himmel. Living romantic lives of drinking and dancing, the young couples schemed and dreamed together, often talking of Bassman's aspirations behind the lens. Giving Bassman the keys to his new Madison Avenue studio, formerly occupied by George Piatt Lynes, Avedon let her use his cameras and loaned her his assistant while he was away on assignment. This testing ground allowed Bassman to experiment and to develop a photographic language that still resonates today. Now in her 90s and living in New York, Bassman says she hasn't shot in the last six months, but she is busy making prints in her darkroom. ■

28 AmerioanPhotoMag.com INSIDE PHOTOGRAPHY

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