Anne Savelli Visits the ‘Musée Marilyn’

Musée Marilyn is a new book by French author Anne Savelli, examining Marilyn’s many photo sessions in detail. (However, it is not illustrated.) If you’re fluent in French and enjoy a more intellectual perspective, this book can be ordered internationally via Amazon.

“Marilyn like you’ve never seen her before? Or rather: Marilyn as you have already seen her, a hundred times, a thousand times, in thousands of photos. From 1944 to 1962, on the fringes of cinema, Marilyn Monroe never ceased to attract the eye of photographers. However, in Anne Savelli’s book, there is no image. The museum she designed, as imaginary as it is real, invites us to go beyond appearances. Behind each photo there is a body, a pose, a setting, a staging, a state of mind, a goal, a particular moment – ​​all of which say something about the Monroe secret – but also an encounter, a complicity, even intimacy.

Musée Marilyn – the result of seven years of research and writing – offers a completely new approach to the most iconic American actress of the 20th century. Relying on dizzying documentation, Anne Savelli has structured her book like a museum – a living, sensitive museum. She tells us about a being of flesh and blood and not a glossy fantasy. Over the course of encounters with those who ‘took’ her in a photo (André de Dienes, Eve Arnold, Milton H. Greene, Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon, etc.), a human truth emerges before disappearing into the night.”

The cover image, for example, is based on a portrait made during Marilyn’s brief tenure at Columbia Pictures. Shot by Robert Coburn, it can be glimpsed in Ladies of the Chorus (1948.)

Thierry Beinstingel has reviewed Musée Marilyn on his Roadmaps blog…

“I followed from the beginning, that is to say for several years, the editorial journey of this beautiful story and I wondered why no publisher had not already rushed on it. I was one of the lucky ones to browse pages (thank you Anne) and the power of the text had already blown me away. So discovering it in a real 424-page book, with its beautiful cover, is a real pleasure.

This story (novel? documentary? device?) tells everything that hides behind the slightest shot of Marilyn. First of all, it’s a chronological quest that sheds light on the creation of the star’s myth and the very precise research about the photographers, the circumstances of the slightest shot and the smallest reportage, will delight aficionados in the first place. and Miss Monroe specialists.

But it is above all the formatting of the story that transcends the adventure and makes the slightest distant spectator, skeptical or little interested in the blonde beauty, an enthusiast in the making. We thus circulate in a real museum, created in Anne’s imagination, we cross rooms, we follow the guide (and what a guide!), we participate, we are both spectators and voyeurs ‘to live an experience’ as they say in the most modern museographies.”

Musée Marilyn is also reviewed (albeit more critically) on the Shangols blog.

“What has not yet been said about the eternal platinum blonde who died prematurely? Savelli finds an original angle to say the least, if you will, since she tries to introduce us to the character through all the photo shoots she gave during her life. Not an easy task … Savelli, without any illustration (the most frustrated will have to do their own research if they wish), therefore evokes the bombshell Marilyn from her beginnings to the very end … It is perfectly and precisely documented, we feel that Savelli did her best during her (necessarily) seven years of research to produce something exhaustive … An original attempt in the idea that loses us a bit in this maze of rooms dedicated more to appearances than to real traumatic torments.”

And finally, author Joachim Séné devoted a Twitter thread to Musée Marilyn.

Musée Marilyn is located during the click, while the mirror tilts, obscures the viewfinder to allow the impression of light on the film. In this book, it is about the model, MM, and the photographers, and especially the sessions, of this present stop on image, that of the photo shoot, where there is not only a body that will find itself frozen on a contact sheet, but also a spirit, still misunderstood, that of Marilyn Monroe, sometimes blurred even when her skin is clear, perfectly clear. ‘Between the photographer and the model,’ Savelli writes, ‘for a moment we can imagine a very simple relationship.’ It is also, and perhaps above all, an exhibition, volte-face, which  you visit at your own risk… ‘No question of going back.'”