THE photographic works included in the current exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery provide an intimate insight into Marilyn Monroe and complement the authentic artefacts, clothing and other objects on display that belonged to, or were worn by, Marilyn.
Photographs from her early life are displayed together with works by renowned photographers such as Eve Arnold and Richard Avedon. From deeply personal and important memories of her childhood to aspects of her various persona and professional incarnations, the medium of photography reveals much about this fascinating subject.
Photography was of great importance to Marilyn throughout her life, revealed by her treasuring of such images and later her manipulation of the medium as her career developed.
Andre de Dienes was one of Norma Jeane’s first photographers. They met in 1945 when she was a model with the Blue Book Modelling Agency. De Dienes’s early photographs show the young Norma Jeane. Over the course of just a few years de Dienes captured the transformation from Norma Jeane Dougherty to Marilyn Monroe.
Marilyn first became aware of Eve Arnold in the early 1950s through her photographs of Marlene Dietrich. Marilyn greatly admired Arnold’s work and asked a friend to introduce them. From this moment began a professional relationship between the two, which gradually developed into a friendship. Over the decade they knew each other, Arnold photographed Marilyn six times; some sessions lasted only two hours, while others, such as during filming of The Misfits, lasted two months. Arnold’s photographs show a different side of Marilyn, in that they are unposed and more documentary in style, catching unguarded moments.
Renowned society photographer Cecil Beaton was commissioned to photograph Marilyn in New York in 1956. Beaton composed a number of distinct sets to create different sittings, all within a suite in New York’s Ambassador Hotel. On display is the image of Monroe widely believed to be her favourite.
In 1958 Richard Avedon, arguably one of the greatest fashion photographers of all time, was commissioned by LIFE magazine to photograph Marilyn Monroe. Avedon created a series showing Marilyn dressed as some of the most celebrated female actors of the twentieth century: Lillian Russell, Jean Harlow, Theda Bara, Clara Bow and Marlene Dietrich. The images were published in LIFE on December 22, 1958. The photographs were never printed and disseminated in any other form until in 1983, when Avedon produced the series of four poster prints we see in the exhibition. These posters are all signed by Avedon and are now highly collectible.
Bendigo Art Gallery and Twentieth Century Fox present Marilyn Monroe is open daily from 10am – 5pm until July 10. For tickets go to www.bendigoartgallery.com.au