Up Close with Marilyn: Portraits by Milton H. Greene is a new exhibition of rare photographs of Marilyn Monroe captured by celebrated photographer Milton H. Greene. Milton photographed the versatile characters Marilyn performed for the camera, shooting the actress in 52 different settings resulting in an archive of over 5,000 images.
Projecting intimate vulnerability whilst commanding the attention of her audience, Marilyn’s ability to construct and control her public image reinforced her position as one of Hollywood’s most admired and publicised 1950s movie stars. The large-scale photographic prints included in this collection exhibit Marilyn in overwhelming detail, encapsulating the glamour, charisma and unique charm that contributed to her stratospheric success and enduring legacy.
Marilyn Monroe is arguably the most photographed personality of the 1950s; famed for her intoxicating sexuality wrapped in an aura of almost childlike innocence. By the time she had filmed her first movie at the age of 21, Marilyn had already experimented with her now famous bleached hair, but it was not until she turned 30 that she legally changed her name from Norma Jean to Marilyn Monroe. Whilst she is remembered for a baby doll rendition of Happy Birthday and holding down her blowing white skirt in front of paparazzi, Marilyn was far from the ‘dumb blonde’ she performed. Through a contemporary lens, Marilyn has become a symbol of not only sex appeal, but empowerment and womanhood as she embraced the camera in a way that no celebrity had dared to do before.
Marilyn met Milton on a photoshoot for Look magazine in 1953. Noted for his fashion shoots that appeared in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, Milton turned his attention to celebrity culture and photographed many high-profile personalities of the era including Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and Audrey Hepburn. Following their first collaboration, the pair formed a close bond and business partnership, together establishing the company ‘Marilyn Monroe Productions’, giving Marilyn control and ownership of her career.
Milton encouraged Marilyn to step away from the ‘dumb blonde’ roles that she had become known for and took a series of photographs which challenged this stereotype. Working in locations that varied from the Californian landscape to film sets and photography studios, the pair collaborated throughout their friendship as they worked together to broaden the public’s perception of ‘Marilyn’.
Milton’s poised and elegant depictions demonstrate Marilyn’s ability to create an entirely different character in front of the lens with just a simple glance, whether she is seductively posing in a negligee or hiding a coy smile with her hand. ‘Up Close with Marilyn: Portraits by Milton H. Greene’ allows the viewer to indulge in the fantasy of ‘Marilyn’ that she so effortlessly created for those who met her enthralling gaze.
Up Close with Marilyn: Portraits by Milton H. Greene runs from 11 May until 24 June 2018 at Proud Galleries on John Adam Street, London. Find out more at proud.co.uk.