Review: Lee Miller’s War


A new hard-hitting exhibition at the Djanogly Art Gallery showcases the lesser known wartime photography from Lee Miller’s career. Probably best known for her work as a model and Surrealist photographer, Lee Miller’s War focuses on her work as the only female combat photojournalist in Europe during the Second World War.

As you enter the small exhibition, you come across the stoic profile of Miller, sat in front of a wartime Vogue poster and dressed in military garb. Underneath, the curators provide a description of Lee Miller’s career and a quote from David E Scherman: ‘Lee Miller was never afraid of what evil men do’. 

Mankind’s evil nature in war is certainly captured in the photographs displayed in this exhibition. Miller recorded the realities of death camps, the injuries burns victims, and the tormenting of three female Nazi sympathisers in the streets of France - Lee Miller’s war is desolate and dark but always real.

Lee Miller: Never afraid of what evil men do


Anyone intending to visit the exhibition must be warned that many of the images in the collection are of a graphic nature and could be upsetting. As you walk around the perimeter of the exhibition hall, looking at each frame in turn, you will find yourself repeatedly shocked at the scale of monstrosity wrought as a consequence of war.  It is remarkable to think of Miller gaining access to these dangerous areas and her bravery in taking these photographs – the bleak world of death and destruction presented in Lee Miller’s War is a far cry from Miller’s time as a fashion model and muse in the cosy art world of Paris.

Some images celebrate the optimism of survivors – there’s a shot of recently freed prisoners singing whilst they wait to be given bread. Other photographs hold an underlying dark humour, like the one of Miller in Hitler’s bathtub (it leaves you wondering: how did she get there?)

Lee Miller’s War is a disturbing but poignant insight into the realities of war and the work of one of the twentieth century’s under-appreciated female icons. The exhibition will run until 22nd February 2015 and admission is free. 



Image One: Lee Miller by David E Scherman, 1944. © Lee Miller Archives, England 2014. All rights

Image Two: Lee Miller in Hitler’s Bathtub, Munich, Germany 1945. Lee Miller with David E Scherman© Lee Miller Archives, England 2014. All rights reserved.