A selection of images from Bert Stern’s iconic photo shoot with Marilyn – now sixty years old, and still exuding sleek modernity – are on display at the Staley Wise Gallery in New York until March 26. (The gallery has a longstanding connection with both Stern and Marilyn – see here.)
“Bert Stern’s contract at VOGUE allowed him to photograph 10 pages of his own choice in the magazine. He chose to photograph Marilyn and the shoot took place at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles in June 1962. Marilyn died shortly after on August 4, 1962 at the age of thirty-six and these photographs became known as ‘The Last Sitting’. In the intervening years her considerable fame has taken on mythic proportions, and it has been photographs which have fanned the flame of her celebrity.
This exhibition is comprised of 60 photographs selected and printed by Bert Stern in 2007 immediately following the success of the exhibition ‘Bert Stern: La Dernière Séance’ in 2007 at the Musée Maillol in Paris, France – the first solo museum exhibition by the photographer. The works in this exhibition at Staley-Wise Gallery then travelled to the Instituto Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2007), Centro Cultural de Cascais in Portugal (2011), the Forte Di Bard in Valle d’Aosta, Italy (2012), and The Musée Toulouse-Lautrec in Albi, France (2015). This is the first time that these works have been exhibited collectively at Staley-Wise Gallery and the exhibition commemorates the 60th anniversary of when they were taken.
The photographs of Marilyn Monroe turned her into the universal icon she has become, and the desire to see more imagery seems unstoppable. From Laff to VOGUE, and from unknown press photographers to the acknowledged geniuses of the profession, each has captured an aspect of Marilyn and this work has gone to the heart of a vast public. She gave her time generously, perhaps on some level knowing this was the true route to stardom, following the example of Garbo and Dietrich, whose photographs by Hurrell, Bull, and others synthesized their allure and popularized their image.”