Her apparent vulnerability and innocence, in combination with an innate sensuality, has endeared her to the global consciousness. She dominated the age of movie stars to become, without question, the most famous woman of the 20th Century. Her legendary status and mysticism will remain with film history forever.
New York photographer Ed Feingersh (1924-1961) can be thanked for shooting some of the most beautiful black and white photographs of Marilyn Monroe ever taken. Pictured during her so called ‘New York Exile’ in early 1955 as she attempted to break free from the constraints of her contract with Twentieth Century Fox.
Feingersh shadows Marilyn during the course of a tumultuous week, following her around the city as she goes about her private and public life. They travel incognito on the New York subway, go to costume fittings and the premiere of Tennessee Williams’ ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof‘. Marilyn is captured relaxing in her hotel suite, dressing for events and putting on her make up. The week culminates in a legendary appearance astride a pink elephant at a benefit performance of The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden.
As you view these rare and intimate photographs you discover a Marilyn fluctuating between fresh faced self confidence and extreme vulnerability. Vibrant and cheerful one minute, pensive and serious the next. A complicated, many-sided women behind the confection Hollywood had made her.
The famous “skirt blowing” scene from The Seven Year Itch, filmed in 1954 was to be a hit with both amateur and professional photographers. Several hundred, including Garry Winogrand (1928-1984), along with 2000 spectators gathered outside the Trans-Lux Theater in New York City in the early morning hours of September 15th to see and record her as she posed for over two hours for her adoring fans. Marilyn’s legs featured prominently in what has surely become the most iconic Marilyn image of them all, in which she stands over a Manhattan subway grating and squeals with pleasure as her skirt billows upward.
The exhibit will be on view through August 29, 2010.