Coney Island Bather, New York, c. 1939-July 1941
Austrian, American, 1901 - 1983
gelatin silver print
34.5 x 27.2 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 29055)
© Lisette Model Foundation, Inc.
portrait, single, female, exterior; standing
When Lisette Model arrived in New York from France in 1938, she encountered a culture less inclined to appreciate social satire and tending to a solemn moral reading of the photograph. Perhaps because of the freshness of her photographs, Alexey Brodovitch at Harper's Bazaar asked her to make a series using Coney Island as her "plein-air" studio. Attracted by generous and extreme forms, Model presents an encounter that is rich with the kind of lively incident she relished. In response to the snickers from a gathering crowd, the bather, full of verve and challenge, asked the onlookers whether they had "never seen a fat woman before!"