Self Reflections: The Expressionist Origins
Lisette Model was born Elise Amelie Felicie Stern in Vienna on November 10, 1901. At 19 she began studying to become a pianist with composer Arnold Schoenberg, whom she held in high regard, stating "If ever in my life I had one teacher and one great influence, it was Schoenberg." In the early 1930's Model abandonded music and began pursuing other creative methods such as painting and photography. Her first series, images of the idle rich vacationing on Nice's Promenade des Anglais, won instant acclaim and are among her most recognized photographs. Shortly after moving to New York City in 1938, her work was being published and shown at the Museum of Modern Art regularly. By 1941, she had joined the Photo League and had her first solo exhibition. During this time she began working her most renowned series: Reflections, Running Legs, Lower East Side, Sammy's, Nick's, Gallagher's Circus. Model was invited to teach at the New School for Social Research in New York City in 1951 where she influenced notable photographers such as Diane Arbus, Rosalind Solomon, and Larry Fink, among others. She continued to teach until her death in 1983.