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Lee Miller at V&A


Women with fire masks, Downshire Hill, London, 1941
? Lee Miller Archives, England 2007

There is something beautiful, awful, and appealing in this photo of two women in London. The cavelike shelter evokes the nightmare of the Blitz, yet the women, who are sitting on newspapers to protect their skirts, look lovely despite their masks, and might almost have wandered into the frame from a fashion shoot.

Lee Miller, who was a fashion model in the 1930s, is noted for uniting the beautiful and the surrealistic in her images. She took thousands of extraordinary images as she followed the Allies across Europe during World War II. The Victoria & Albert Museum has just opened an exhibit of her work.

London has so many great museums I sometimes forget about V&A, which houses 4.5 million objects, the world’s greatest collection of the decorative and design arts.