Description

Eve Arnold began photographing Marilyn Monroe after the actress saw her pictures of Marlene Dietrich in Esquire. They met at a party and Monroe asked: “If you could do that well with Marlene, can you imagine what you can do with me?” So began their professional relationship, which, over the years, turned into friendship. Arnold photographed Monroe six times over the decade she knew her; the longest of these sessions being a two-month stint during the filming of The Misfits.

Arnold noted Monroe’s fragile state during the production: “My most poignant memory of Marilyn is of how distressed, troubled and still radiant she looked when I arrived in Nevada to work on The Misfits.” Despite on-set smiles, the superstar actress was unwell, confiding in the photographer at one point: “I’ve been dancing for six months. I’ve had no rest, I’m exhausted. Where do I go from here?” Monroe would die less than a year after the completion of filming. Known for getting behind her subjects’ often polished exteriors, Arnold’s portraits of Monroe from this time hinted at turbulence beneath a veneer of collected calm.

Eve Arnold was a pioneering photojournalist whose work spanned politics, celebrity and the everyday lives of subjects in countries around the world, from Cuba to Mongolia.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1912, Arnold began taking photographs in New York in 1946, when she was working in a photo-finishing plant. The start of her career coincided with the advent of humanitarian photography, a genre she would later become a figurehead of through her reportage of the civil rights movement, poverty in South Africa and the political prisoners of Soviet Russia.

Arnold was one of the first women to be associated with Magnum, and became a full member in 1957. In 1974 she published her monograph The Unretouched Woman – a book documenting the experience of being a woman, through a woman’s perspective.

Alongside her political work, Arnold was revered for her personal and revealing portraits of silver screen icons – and there are arguably none more iconic than Marilyn Monroe, whom she documented on and off over a decade. Granted access to the set of the 1961 film The Misfits, Arnold shot this image during a particularly turbulent time in Monroe’s life, while she was separating from her husband, the writer Arthur Miller. The film would be Monroe’s last starring role before her death a year later.

Recalling the experience, Arnold said: "At photo sessions [Monroe] was in total control. She manipulated everything – me, the camera. She knew a lot about cameras, and I had never met anyone who could make them respond the way she did.”

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