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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Lejaren  Hiller

Born: John Arthur Hiller 
Other: Lejaren Hiller 
Dates:  1880, 3 July - 1969, 23 May
Born:  US, WI, MIlwaukee
Died:  US, NY, New York City
Active:  US
He used sets and costumes to reconstruct tableaux vivants of surgical procedures and produced one a year between 1927 and the 1950s as advertising for the American medical suture company Davis & Geck. Some of these were published in 1944 in the book ‘Surgery Through the Ages: A Pictorial Chronicle‘ (New York: Hasting House) with text by Paul Benton and John H. Hewlett.

Preparing biographies

Biography provided by Focal Press 
Opened commercial photography to American print advertisers in 1913 by making less realistic and more fantastic images by combining fine art aesthetics and pictorialist methods to create subjective tableaux using elaborate sets involving costumed actors. Hiller used combination printing, dramatic lighting, soft-focus, and heavy retouching to produce narrative theatrical scenes that gave his images a sense of emotion and dreamy desire that delighted advertisers. Best known for his humorous and slightly erotic ad campaign, now considered sexist, Surgery Through the Ages (1927 and 1933) done for Davis & Geck, Inc. who were makers of surgical sutures. For this project Hiller concocted a historic series of tableaux vivants consisting of over 200 great moments in medical history that appeared in medical journals and hung in hospitals and physicians offices throughout the country. 
(Author: Robert Hirsch - Independent scholar and writer) 
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 

Further research

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Lejaren  Hiller
Self-portrait of Lejaren Hiller 
1950s-1960s (ca)
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.

Visual indexes

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Internet biographies

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Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Lejaren  Hiller.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Sobieszek, Robert A. and Deborah Irmas 1994 the camera i: Photographic Self-Portraits (Los Angeles: LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art) p.220, Plate 39 [When the Audrey and Sydney Irmas collection was donated to LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1992 the museum gained a remarkable collection of self portraits of notable photographers. If you need a portrait of Lejaren  Hiller this is a useful starting point.] 
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