The instant the statuesque bombshell made her move from posing for the camera to joining the ranks of professional photographers,Bunny Yeager's
male counterparts were left slavering over her natural talents.
Yeager, already South Florida's most photographed model during the late '40s, knew how to pose a woman better than any male shutterbug. "I knew my body and women's bodies better than the men did," says Yeager, whose stunning self-portraits from the '50s and '60s will be on view this weekend at the Harold Golen Gallery in Wynwood during the Second Saturday art walk. Yeager might even show up for the opening.
The nearly two dozen pictures presented in "The Fabulous Bunny Yeager"
have never been exhibited publicly and mark the first gallery show
featuring the iconic photographer as its subject.
Yeager's arresting suite of self-portraits includes a picture of the curvy beauty, clad in a frilly black negligee in a swank living room. In another shot, she wears one of her trademark homemade bikinis as she sits atop a white furry rug spread before a Roman column inside a stylish bathroom. The setting is the plush Palm Island digs of South Florida tile tycoon Harold Chaskin. "He was a bachelor and let me shoot at his home whenever I wanted," Yeager says.
Yet another image shows the fetching blonde peering straight at the camera, her lips puckered as if blowing a kiss to the viewer, while sitting in a pool. Her shirt is soaked, leaving little to the imagination.
Last year, the contemporary art world finally gave Yeager what many observers thought was long overdue recognition when the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh presented "Bunny Yeager: The Legendary Queen of the Pin-Up," the first museum survey featuring her work as both model and photographer.
Yeager notes she approached photo shoots as if directing a play. "As a successful model, it was easy for me to make the girls I was photographing look great," she says. "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."
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Yeager never stopped taking self-portraits during that era. "I always took pictures of myself when I looked my best. I wanted to have these pictures as a pictorial diary and to remind me that I was also a great model," she says.Many of those photos are now seeing the light of day for the first time and earning her rave critical reviews.
"I always looked at my work as an art form and not a job," Yeager says. "I knew starting out I had as good a chance as anybody to succeed and become famous. I knew my work was excellent and as good, if not better, than the other photographers working at the time. "I think it's nice to be appreciated at last," she says. "Now people think they know me as a photographer, but they forget I was once a model myself."
"The Fabulous Bunny Yeager" opens this Saturday' at 7 p.m. and runs through June 4 at Harold Golen Gallery (2294 NW Second Ave., Miami). Call 305-989-3359 or visit haroldgolengallery.com. The gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday 1 to 5 p.m.