|Lisette Blumenfeld Georges, 89, succumbs to complications of Crohn's Disease|
Lisette by Erwin Blumenfeld, NYC, 1944.
NEW YORK, NY.- Lisette was the first born child of photographer Erwin Blumenfeld from Berlin and Lena Citroen of Amsterdam , cousin of Paul Citroen: Blumenfelds best friend. since age 6.
Upon her birth Lisette became Blumenfelds most photographed model and muse. They lived in Zandvoort on the Zee and then in Ardenhout. Lisette was model and assistant in her youth recalling time spent in an early darkroom closet under the staircase. Fantastic chemical experiments took place in the middle of the living room floor during the early years. In 1937 Lisette aged 14 and her mother and 2 brothers joined Blumenfeld in Paris. Lisette spent her first year in Paris cutting classes of 8th grade to watch movies at the cinema across the street Le Pagode then dropped out of school all together to become model and assistant to her father at his studio at 9, rue Delambre and frequenting le Dome where she saw Picasso, Matisse, Rouaoult, Kertesz and the Montparnasse scene. During 1937 Lisettes hands were part of Blumenfelds photograph The Dictator 1937 and in 1937 Lisettes legs were photographed in a shot published as Blumenfelds first double page spread in US Vogue in May 15, 1944.
In 1939 when WWII broke out Blumenfeld and his family headed south first for a hotel in Vezelay where le Corbusier was staying. Traveling with German passports made for complications and soon Lisette18 years old was ordered to a French Concentration Camp in Gurs. Lisettes unpublished memoir begins during this time. After 6 months Lisette was allowed to join her family who had all been in different French camps and they continued south to Marseille where Varian Frye helped them get visas. Tickets to America were purchased from a gangster in May 1941. The ship was held in Morocco and the family interned in a Camp at Sidi Ali Asi however they were allowed to continue on a Portuguese ship and finally arrived in New York on August 9, 1941. Lisette at the age of 19 learned English by going to movies everyday at MOMA and her first phrase was, ham and cheese on rye. Lisette worked as model and assistant to Blumenfeld who briefly shared a studio with Munkasci and soon at his own studio 222 Central Park South. Lisette and her father spent their time with George Grosz, Richard Lindner, Seligman and other refugees. With Gordon Parks Lisette heard jazz at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem and Café Society in Greenwich Village and with Oliver Smith went often to the house on Middagh Street meeting Auden, Jane and Paul Bowles and Gypsy Rose Lee.
During the late 1940s Lisette worked at Macys NYC then moved to Paris and worked for Life Magazine. On December 6, 1949 Lisette attended a party at the Impasse Ronsin next door to Brancusis studio and met the American painter Paul Georges whom she married January 23, 1950 in Cambridge, England. They resided for 2 years at La Frette sur Seine in the house and studio of Albert Marquet, traveled through France and Northern Italy returning in March 1952 to New York City. They lived above Rosenberg Art Supply at 41 East 8th Street in Peter Busas former loft and Jackson Pollock visited often looking for Busa. Lisette worked for one year as a stylist for Blumenfeld but found it too exhausting to move between work and the demands of creative life at home. Lisette became a staunch Bohemian artists wife relinquishing dreams of security or monetary comforts to live life in the art world. Moving to 231 East 11th Street in 1954 her first child was born, Paulette of Marseille, France. Paul designed stage sets for Herbert Machiz directing world premieres of Tennessee Williams plays at the Lakeside Theater, Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey but by 1956 summers were spent in East Hampton, 1957 summered at Sag Harbor and 1958 Sagaponack overlooking Poxabog Pond. First in a house rented from Fred Topping on Poxy without running water and from 1963 until 1985 Lisette and Paul owned Hickory Hildreths house on Sagg Road purchased from Hockorys daughter Hazel Hildreth Talmage and her husband Trap beloved friends and next door neighbors.
In 1960, Pauls Self Portrait exhibition at The Great Jones Gallery was successful, the
family moved to a loft at Broadway and Bleecker street and Yvette was born in
November. In January 1961, Pauls 2nd exhibition at The Great Jones Gallery titled
Fertility sold out featuring paintings of Lisette pregnant.
In June 1961, Willem de Kooning brought the collector Joseph Hirshhorn to the Great Jones Gallery and he purchased 8 of Paul Georges paintings.
1968 the rent having shot from $28 to $150 monthly Lisette and Paul became pioneers of Tribeca. They found a cheap building and forged further downtown against all
recommendations. No one had ever heard of Walker Street but they found a few other artists to follow their lead and they created one of the first Artist Live/Work co-ops with a Certificate of Occupancy below Canal Street.
Lisette and Paul spent half of each year at Walker Street and half the year in Sagaponack they hosted memorable parties, dinners and picnics with Fairfield Porter, Alice Neel, Jane Freilicher, Larry Rivers, Wilfred Zogbaum, Franz Kline, de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Phil & Joyce Anderson and the artists of their time. Lisette introduced Paul to the music of Bach on their first date and throughout their 52 years of marriage she was the consummate artists wife and partner dispensing with comforts of any kind save music and literature and sacrificing her very being for the sake of her husbands work and creativity. She was impervious, imperial and unflinching in her belief in her husband and the greatness of his paintings.
They moved to France in 1985 spending half of each year in Gefosse-Fontenay, Isigny in Normandy near Omaha Beach. They lived in a huge fortified farmhouse with vast barns all converted to studios and enjoyed an amazingly disciplined completely Spartan existence geared solely to their life mission of Pauls creation of art. Paul Georges died in 2002 and Lisette continued their NY/Normandy routine until this year. Lisette worked sporadically on her diaries and memoir of her life in the last decade. In addition to her daughters Paulette of Marseille and Yvette of New York City she leaves 3 beloved
granddaughters Rachel Theodore of Santiago, Chile and Dea & Gia Deeton of NYC.
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