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Lisette Model

Lisette Model, 1906–83

It is unfashionable to acknowledge the existence of artistic temperament; the idea of equality implies, superficially, that everyone is as good as another, and that to be equal is to be alike. Lisette Model had a full share of this unpopular temperament, first as a promising musician, later as a photographer. Photography is apparently the most democratic of the arts; anyone may try it—wonderful pictures are sometimes the result of an accident. What makes a great print? Not, above all, the mechanical ability (which any child could command) to print maximum black, white, and all the intermediate tones, but merely this: either one’s printing style is accepted or it isn’t. Model realized this. Her remark “They say I’m a bad printer . . . they should see my negatives,” was retired during her late period of public acclaim, and she became rather grand about her printing.

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