When Leslie Gill and Frances McLaughlin-Gill, both prominent photographers, married in 1948 two photographic worlds merged. Leslie Gill had collaborated for years with Alexander Brodovitch, the legendary Art Director of Harpers Bazaar, and afterwards concentrated on still life photography. Frances McLaughlin had been the first female staff photographer discovered by the equally illustrious Alexander Liberman at Vogue Magazine and worked for fashion magazines here and in Europe.
Leslie Gill, an artist of impeccable taste, sublime sensibilities, and innovative style, created still lifes that would inspire decades of photographers. He died suddenly at the age of 49—hard to imagine where his inventive spirit would have taken his photography had he lived longer.
Francis McLaughlin-Gill brought a refreshingly relaxed style of photography to Condé Nast Publications. Her instinctual cinematic approach to fashion photography was unique at the time. It reflected the contemporary woman and became an integral part of fashion photography for years to come.
They both were perfectionists who fully engaged with the medium of photography. His photographs veered towards the staged image while hers were more spontaneous. They absorbed each other’s ideas, evident especially in their portraiture. Leslie Gill, Francis McLaughlin Gill and their friends formed a vibrant creative circle in photography. We are fortunate to be able to see a world, now gone, through the eyes of these two artists, whose sensibilities, while clearly different, were equally refined.
Elisabeth Biondi is an independent author and curator and the former director of photography at the New Yorker. She lives and works in New York, USA.
Lives & Still Lives: Les Gill, Frances McLaughlin Gill, and their Circle of Friends
May 25 to July 7, 2017
Howard Greenberg Gallery
41 E 57th St
New York, NY 10022