Bert Stern - What’s it All About
Pigment print, 2012
Signed lower right corner and dated on verso
Dimensions 19” x 13” (unframed sheet)
Gallery Certificate of Authenticity included.
At the time this photograph was taken, Bert Stern was at the top of his game, photographing all the biggest celebrities of the time. Portraits of Marilyn Monroe were, therefore, a logical next step, but they turned out to be much more than a stepping stone.
“I was preparing for Marilyn’s arrival like a lover, and yet I was here to take photographs.” These words of Bert Stern are probably the best introduction to viewing his celebrated photographs of Marilyn Monroe. The series called “The Last Sitting” carries a name that commemorates the last photo shoot the actress had in her lifetime. Marilyn died six weeks after the session and the pictures were published one day after her death by the Vogue magazine.
The momentous photo session happened at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, it lasted 12 hours and resulted in 2,571 portraits of Marilyn. Although Stern carefully edited the series later, it was obvious, even in the lesser images, that the connection the photographer and the model had, was special. A professional, the photographer approached the series as an artistic challenge wanting to capture nudes of the America’s most desired sex symbol, as clothes were simply a burden. Although a photograph of Marilyn wearing a black velour evening dress did survive, she is mainly wrapped in silk, fine scarves, lace and shiny jewels. Stern saw these images as audacious, presenting the diva as a seemingly distant goddess, an ethereal, unattainable creäture, but ultimately unveiling her very human, emotional nature in every close-up.
Photographs from “The Last Sitting” are today considered artworks with great historical significance, tied to the history of photography, film and the person of one of the greatest Hollywood divas of all time.
“What it’s All About/ I Beg of You” depicts a standing nude Marilyn facing the camera. Her gesture emulates a petitionary gesture as she gazes into the lens and coyly tries to hide her nudity with an overly fine pink scarf. All of the famous features of the actress are there, her hair, her make-up, her playful poise, but there is something absent, dreamy, almost sad in her gaze. At the time, she suffered from mental illness and substance abuse and hadn’t worked for a while. If we look beneath the pink layers of this photograph, we can catch a glimpse of true Marilyn and her troubles.
The piece on offer is a rare find, marked number 9 out of a small edition of 25 pigment prints. It comes protected under a frame with a Certificate of Authenticity.
A unique opportunity to own a piece of history for all lovers of film and photography! Present your best offer to compete for this exquisite work.
About Bert Stern
Progressive approach and a lustrous choice of subjects have launched Bert Stern towards the status of one of the most famous American photographers of all time. Even though he started in a humble mailroom of a magazine, he learned the art of the camera quickly, building his career in the most prestigious fashion magazines of the time. He worked with Vogue, Esquire and Glamour magazines, and shot commercial campaigns for a range of multinational companies such as Pepsi or Volkswagen. To this date, his celebrated photograph of a Martini glass shimmering in front of the Great Pyramid in Egypt is considered the cornerstone of modern commercial photography because of its meaningful visual simplicity.
A pioneer of the new style, Stern favored clean, emotionally charged images, aiming to enhance the subject’s persona. Among his portraits, we can find photographs of stars such as Twiggy, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Truman Capote.
However, the most celebrated series of photographs came out of Stern’s 1962 collaboration with Vogue, in which he photographed Marilyn Monroe. The series was made only six weeks before the actress’ death, and is known as “The Last Sitting”. In 2008, the artist recreated photographs from this series in collaboration with Lindsay Lohan instead of Marilyn. He remained dedicated to his art until his death.
Born in Brooklyn in 1929, Bertram Stern a.k.a. Bert lived and died in New York in 2013.