Vintage: Fashion of 1940s and 1950s by Nina Leen

Vintage: Fashion of 1940s and 1950s by Nina Leen


Nina Leen was a Russian-born American photographer, a constant contributor to Life. Nobody knows how old Nina Leen was when she died, in 1995. Judging from her obituary, information about Leen is scarce. She lived in Germany, Italy, and Switzerland before moving to the U.S., where she became one of Life magazine’s first female photographers, in the nineteen-forties. She shot countless assignments for the magazine, including more than fifty cover stories, and produced fifteen photo books. Her most well-known subjects were animals (including her dog Lucky), American women and adolescents, and the Irascibles, a group of abstract artists, including Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. Though many of Leen’s assignments were quite pedestrian—her photos have titles like “A Couple Looking for a House to Buy,” “Children Attending a Birthday Party,” and “American Women Playing Bridge”—her images are packed with as much violence, sexual tension, and mystery as any David Lynch film. Her photos wouldn’t look out of place next to Cindy Sherman’s on a gallery wall. But, unlike Lynch or Sherman, Leen found tension in the real world, and her subjects weren’t actors—they were just everyday people living out their lives. And while a quick search on the Internet will turn up photo captions, why bother? After all, sometimes knowing less is much more interesting.

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© Nina Leen — Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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© Nina Leen — Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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© Nina Leen — Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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© Nina Leen – Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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© Nina Leen – Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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© Nina Leen – Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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© Nina Leen – Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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© Nina Leen – Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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© Nina Leen – Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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© Nina Leen – Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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© Nina Leen – Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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© Nina Leen – Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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© Nina Leen – Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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© Nina Leen – Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images


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