At Sammy’s by Lisette Model (1940-44)

The photograph “At Sammy’s” was captured by artist Lisette Model sometime between 1940 and 1944. The image reflects a candid moment of social interaction, typical of Model’s raw and unretouched style that offers an unguarded look at society.

In the photograph, we see what appears to be a lively social scene, possibly in a bar or a similar establishment. There are four individuals in close proximity, engaged in what seems to be a bustling, convivial atmosphere. The central figure is a woman looking directly at the camera, smoking a cigarette held in a cigarette holder. She is adorned with a distinctive brooch, earrings, and a headscarf or hat, suggesting a certain style or fashion of the era.

Two men flank her on either side; the man to the left also smokes a cigarette, and the lit end of the cigarette stands out against the dark background. The man on the right is caught mid-gesture, with his hand blurred, possibly in motion. Behind the central woman, another woman’s face is visible, her expression blurred and indistinct, further contributing to the candid feeling of the scene.

The picture exudes a sense of intimacy and immediacy, as if the viewer has stumbled upon a private moment. The unusual angles and close-up capture a distortion that was characteristic of Model’s photographic technique, which often involved shooting from low angles or with a close flash. This technique provided an almost voyeuristic insight into the lives of the subjects, creating a sense of spontaneity and capturing the dynamic human expressions of everyday life.

Other Photographs from Lisette Model

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