So rather than being hypnotized








{ Marilyn Monroe photographed by Bert Stern at the Bel-Air Hotel in LA six weeks before her death on Aug. 5, 1962 }

The photographs, which include some of the most explicit images taken of the actress, show her principally in three situations: naked on a bed, baring her shoulders, back and legs; holding a transparent chiffon scarf before her naked torso; and covering her breasts with paper flowers. In other images she wears black cocktail dresses or plays mischievously with necklaces.

Yet if some of these poses might once have been considered shocking (and were, in fact, not published until 20 years after her death), they seem tame today. So rather than being hypnotized by Monroe’s raw sexuality, visitors here are invited to study the pictures for what they reveal about her.

“She was going through a hard time with her health, her career and her men,” Mr. Stern said, recalling that she had just been fired from the set of George Cukor’s unfinished movie, “Something’s Got to Give.” “I thought the photo session would be uplifting for her.”

Mr. Stern was on assignment for Vogue, but he notes in the catalog that he had always hoped to photograph Monroe nude and brought only some chiffon scarves and jewelry as accessories. Monroe’s assistant told him to order three bottles of Dom Pérignon Champagne. Monroe arrived five hours late — Mr. Stern remembers the day as June 22 — and, he says, within 15 minutes she had agreed to pose “topless” with the scarves.

“We worked from about 4:30 p.m. to about 3 a.m.,” he said from New York. “But then Vogue decided the first session was too sexy, and they wanted me to go back two or three weeks later and do fashion. After a while, she said: ‘I’m tired of doing fashion. Can we go back to doing what we did the first day?’ That’s when we did the pictures of her on the bed. By then, she was pretty drunk.”

Vogue published eight pages of the fashion shoot the day after Monroe died; it ran 12 pages of the nude images only in 1982.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }