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Born in Vienna, Elise (Lisette) Stern moved to Paris as a young woman and studied

American (born Austria),

both music and painting before taking up photography as a profession. Three women


tutored and encouraged her in this new vocation: her sister Olga, Rogi Andre (the first

Reno, 1949 Gelatin silver print 34 x 27 cm (137/16x 105/8in.) 8 4 . X M . 153.63

wife of Andre Kertesz), and the master of photomontage, Florence Henri. In 1938 Lisette and her husband, the painter Evsa Model, emigrated to New York, where she found increasing success with photojournalism, publishing in PM Weekly, Harper's Bazaar, Life, Look, Vogue, and the Ladies Home Journal. She also discovered a new public through the Museum of Modern Art's photography department, which opened in 1940 and promptly began exhibiting and collecting her work. During the 1940s, Model was busy not only with her own shows and the documentation of New York cafe life, but some assignments also took her to the West. For the November 1949 installment of the Ladies Home Journal series "How America Lives," the magazine sent Model to Reno to report on the "typical" Winne family, operators of the Lazy A Bar Ranch. Model did create portraits of the family, but her camera and the final article reflected equal interest in a portrayal of the ranch guests —mostly women waiting out the six-week residency requirement for a divorce— and the ubiquitous gamblers of Reno. None of the pictures Model made at a local rodeo, including this one, appeared among the images of dude-ranch leisure and casino commotion that finally illustrated "How Reno Lives." However, this portrait contains some fascinating dualities: the woman's provocative gaze is both glamorous and reticent, cosmopolitan and provincial, feminine and masculine. It is hard to say whether the subject is a bold, recent divorcee enjoying the spectacle of bronco riding or a nervous wife waiting for a decree to end a broken relationship. Perhaps the editors thought an intense glare that might frighten, rather than entertain, their readers was concealed behind those rhinestone glasses.

118 T W E N T I E T H C E N T U R Y


Profile for Bint Bint

Masterpieces J. Paul Getty Museum 089236517x  

Masterpieces J. Paul Getty Museum

Masterpieces J. Paul Getty Museum 089236517x  

Masterpieces J. Paul Getty Museum