Fifteen classic images from photographer Eve Arnold – including five of Marilyn – are being sold as 16 x 20-inch posters for £30 each through her website until April 30, as Mark Brown reports for The Guardian (see full gallery here.) Four were taken during filming of The Misfits in 1960, while another showing a leopardskin-clad Marilyn ‘in the bulrushes’ dates back to 1955. None of these photos are ‘unpublished’ as the article claims, but it’s good to see lesser-known images alongside the more famous shots, and at such an affordable price.
“‘There is something about the one where she’s in the car,’ said Michael Arnold, Eve’s grandson who manages the family archive. ‘It’s not the typical glamour shot you often see with Monroe, there’s an ordinariness about it … she is going about her craft, she’s learning her lines. There’s something about the composition which makes it special.’
In another one Monroe is more whimsical, according to Michael Arnold. There is a similar pensiveness but she is aware she’s being photographed and is playing up to it.
‘[Monroe] confided in Eve that she was struggling, she was finding it difficult to come to terms with the image that everybody had created of her, she was exhausted at having to live up to that,’ said Michael Arnold.
Michael Arnold had a touchingly close relationship with Eve. ‘She wasn’t really a granny type of granny, she was just a really cool woman that was like a friend and mentor to me,’ he said. ‘She always had so many stories to tell and she would very rarely tell the same story twice.’
When he took over managing her archive he came across a quote in which his grandmother said: ‘I would prefer photography to be a folk art – cheap and available to everybody, rather than elevated to mandarin proportions created through an artificial scarcity.’
That triggered memories of a story about her first London show when Arnold wanted students to be able to afford her work and so she sold prints at hugely reduced prices. Later on she would discover that art dealers had bought them to sell for a profit.
From there came the poster plan, which he hopes will help preserve her legacy and introduce his grandmother’s work to new generations. ‘The themes she photographed are ever-present, if not more so – racism, sexism, inequality … not to mention the humanity she brought to her work.’
Michael Arnold said his grandmother grew up as one of nine children in a poor Russian Jewish immigrant family. ‘She didn’t talk about this much but it definitely had a bearing on her desire to make photography accessible to all.’
Arnold’s output is still largely an untapped mine, given she took around 250,000 photographs in her career. Only around 2,000-3,000 have been digitised.”
Thanks to A Passion for Marilyn
UPDATE: Eve’s website also features a page of images that will be rare for even the more seasoned Monroe fan.