South Florida lost an arts icon last weekend when legendary photographer Bunny Yeager passed away at the age of 85. Yeager began her career as a pin-up model in the 1940s, and evolved into a photographer in her own right, photographing icons like Bettie Page and Maria Stanger.
Yeager's life has ended, but her work lives on. We've compiled some of Yeager's most iconic shots, along with recent, candid photos of Yeager, in tribute.
Warning: Some photos NSFW.
Yeager didn't slow down as she neared the end of her life; if anything, she was more inspired than ever. In 2013, she opened her own photography studio in Wynwood, a place to preserve her classic photos and keep the art of pin-up alive with new work. There, it was easy to get a sense of the photographer as she was back in the day: serious about her craft, but still having a hell of a lot of fun doing it.
The photos available at the studio also chronicle Yeager's work with Bettie Page, who often served as the photographer's muse. These early shoots introduced the public to Yeager's fondness for cheetahs and other big cats (even those that were stuffed).
Yeager's legacy is the sexy, sophisticated pin-up, nude photos of women in which the subject owns her own sexuality. A post-feminist artist in a pre-feminist world, Yeager's groundbreaking photos helped to lay the foundation for the Sexual Revolution.
"I knew my body and women's bodies better than the men did," Yeager told New Times in 2011. "As a successful model, it was easy for me to make the girls I was photographing look great. For me, making the girls feel comfortable and creating a scene that made the photo come to life was just the natural thing to do."
Yeager's work also inspired artists like Cindy Sherman, as well as plenty of Miami gallerists; in recent years, Yeager has been the subject of exhibits at Dezer Schauhalle, the World Erotic Art Museum, and Harold Golden Gallery, whose "The Fabulous Bunny Yeager" exhibit won New Times' Best Gallery Exhibit in 2012.
In addition to opening the Wynwood studio, Yeager's other recent projects included a line of bikinis by Bruno Banani and the release of a book about her, Bunny Yeager's Darkroom, penned by Petra Mason. At a recent book signing appearance, Yeager's cheetah love was in full effect.
"Bunny cared about so much but obviously adored her models and animals," Marcia Rabinowitz, Director of Development and Special Events for Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc., remembers about the January event. "What a cool wonderful strong-minded woman she was!"
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"I had purchased the stuffed animals so as to keep the cheetah theme alive," Rabinowitz continues. "Bunny refused to go without them! ... She went home with one of them and her arms wrapped around him."
The photographer was also reportedly working on her own book when she died, due out in September and featuring never-before-seen stills from Yeager's storied career. Even after her death, she's keeping us guessing what will come next.
Rest in peace, Bunny.