Lisbette Model

Today I’d like to present you another photographer whose career and biography really impress me: Lisette Model (1901-1983). The Vienna-born photographer is considered a pioneer in Street Photography and fascinates me because she developed her very unique, then quite unusual style and never gave up on it.

“Never take a picture of something that doesn’t interest you!” (Lisbette Model)

Her most successful photos are the ones she took with a 35 mm camera on the promenade of Nice. A clear characteristic of her pictures was her focus on the small peculiarities of people in everyday life situations. Marginalized people in our society are frequent subjects in her photos. At a time when actresses and models were used as common objects in art and photography, Lisbette said:

“When I was painting in Paris, we drew from the models. And you cannot imagine how fantastically boring it can be to look hour after hour at a beautiful body. But an ugly body can be fascinating.” – Lisette Model

Because of this she counts as a pioneer in socially critical photography for many. Her direct, often “frank” way of portraying everyday life intrigued many people. When after many years in France Lisbette Model moved to New York and got to know big names like Alexey Brodovitch or Beaumont Newhall, this would open all doors to her very quickly. Her photos were regularly published in Harper’s Bazaar, PM weekly and Cue and even exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art.

It was also Model who taught many great photographers such as Diane Arbus, Berenice Abbot or Larry Fink, thus strongly influencing a new generation of photographers and the development of Street Photography.


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