Following the publication of her revelatory personal diaries, poems and letters, this month allows for further contemplation of the legendary Monroe in a film and book and exhibition of never seen before photographs...
Who? The peroxide blonde who sung to the President, enticed Hollywood's most eligible men and was the subject of one of the history's most iconic photographs, captured on a subway grate, with her white halter-neck dress billowing in the wind. Baptised and raised as Norma Jeanne Mortenson, Monroe began a difficult life in foster care, followed by years in the spotlight as a model, singer, actress and showgirl before her tragic death aged 36, recorded as "acute barbiturate poisoning" resulting from a "probable suicide". Her obituary, published in the Guardian in August 1962, described Monroe as a "confused, pathologically shy, a straw on the ocean of her compulsions…a sweet and humorous person increasingly terrified by the huge stereotype of herself she saw plastered all around her."
What? This month, the legendary star is celebrated in a film, My Week with Marilyn starring Michelle Williams, which explores Monroe’s relationship with a young English set runner during the making of The Prince and The Showgirl. A book, entitled Metamorphosis, documents her transformation, through co-author David Wills’ extensive archives of Monroe photographs. Many of them unpublished, they include shots from her early modeling career, candid and on-set images from Monroe's many films, and unpublished photos from many of the era's leading photographers, including Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton and Willy Rizzo. Currently showing at New York's Milk Gallery is an exhibition, Picturing Marilyn showcasing never before seen photographs.
"This current Monroe focused triptych allows for further contemplation of the beloved star"
Why? Since the 1950s, Monroe has had an enduring effect on popular culture, inspiring artists such as Andy Warhol and Madonna and references to her style in the Prada and Jil Sander S/S12 collections. Despite her iconic status, Monroe herself remains something of a mystery. Following last year's publication of a revelatory archive of her own writing – diaries, poems and letters – in the book Fragments, this current Monroe focused triptych allows for further contemplation of the beloved star. Curated by the Staley Wise Gallery, this weekend's exhibition Picturing Marilyn spans her entire photographic life from when she was a teenager on the beach photographed by Andre De Dienes; to the Discovery Series by Bernard of Hollywood who helped Monroe get her first acting role; to her shoot at age 26 with Philippe Halsman for the infamous LIFE cover which confirmed her status as “The Talk of Hollywood”. The exhibit also features photographs from the renowned shoot with Bert Stern that took place at the Bel-Air hotel in June 1962, now known as The Last Sitting.
The exhibition Picturing Marilyn runs until November 13 at Milk Gallery, NY. The book Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis, published by It Books, is on sale now and the film My Week With Marilyn is released in the US on November 23.
Text by Laura Bradley