Andre De Dienes Exhibit in New York

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Andre de Dienes: Marilyn and the California Girls – a rare solo retrospective for the European-born, West Coast photographer – will be on display at the Stephen Kasher Gallery in New York from June 9-July 30, reports the British Journal of Photography.  As well as his extraordinary work with Marilyn, the exhibit will also showcase De Dienes’ exotic nudes, taken against the spectacular natural backdrop of California’s desert landscape.

Inside Marilyn’s Make-Up Drawer

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In an article for Allure, Lauren Hubbard explores the contents of Marilyn’s make-up drawer…

“While you might be imagining Monroe’s vanity drawers filled to the brim with gleaming gold lipstick tubes, pearl-handled brushes, and shiny powder compacts, Monroe didn’t keep a ton of makeup on hand—most likely because she trusted those things to makeup artists, like Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder, who was so close with the star that he even served as a pallbearer at her funeral. No, Monroe’s makeup drawers were far simpler than the stockpiles of makeup packed into our own drawers. She was even—dare we say it?—practical.

That’s practical in the most glamour-girl sense of the word, of course. The drawer’s contents, which sold at auction in 2005, included a box of Flents earplugs (they’re still around, so you can block out your obnoxious neighbors the same way Marilyn Monroe did!); a matchbook from the Maisonette, a nightclub in the St. Regis hotel in New York City; an eyelash curler that looks nearly identical to the one you probably have in your own makeup bag; a set of Martha Lorraine false eyelashes (sadly, these aren’t still around) and the box they came in; a gilded comb; a pack of fantastically named Scoldy Lox Glamour Guards bobby pins; lilac Starry Eyes eye shadow; a fancy-looking lip brush; and a braided hair extension.”

‘Marilyn’s Places’ on Kindle

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Marilyn’s Places: Walking in the Footsteps of Marilyn Monroe, the definitive guide to Marilyn’s homes and haunts, is now available on Amazon Kindle for £3.48 (UK) or $5 (US.) It is a fully revised and expanded version of Michelle Morgan’s 1995 book, Marilyn’s Addresses, and is also available in paperback from Lulu.com under the alternate title of Marilyn’s Footsteps. Michelle is, of course, the author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed and Before Marilyn: The Blue Book Modelling Years, and Marilyn’s Places is essential for anyone who wants to visit these locations, or just to learn more about her life.

‘Zimbelism’: New Doc + Book On Marilyn, and More

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Zimbelism, the long-awaited documentary about photographer George S. Zimbel, had its premiere at the recent Hot Docs Festival in Toronto. Zimbel, now 86, spoke to Laura Goldstein for mashumashu.com about his 72- year career in ‘humanist’ photography, and his memories of Marilyn as she filmed the ‘subway scene’ for The Seven Year Itch. A retrospective of Zimbel’s work, Momento, was published last year.

“‘I am more of a determined photographer than a pushy photographer but that night I did something atypical. I started to shoot as the filming commenced. (Strictly forbidden!) There was enough street noise to cover the discrete click of the Leica shutter, but someone obviously didn’t like what I was doing and I was removed from the press photography area and escorted behind the police lines by two of New York’s finest. I used the new viewpoint and kept shooting from there. I remember when all action stopped as two men walked across the set. It was Joe Dimaggio, (Marilyn’s) husband and Walter Winchell, the Broadway columnist. Dimaggio was furious about the scene (remember it was 1954.) Every publication that could find an excuse to run photos of that event did so. And here is my personal mystery – I decided not to throw my shoot into the editorial pot.’

I ask George bluntly, ‘Why did you do that? Didn’t you kick yourself afterwards?’

‘We all have our priorities,’ he says without regret, ‘and I was working on a photo essay on Irish Americans that had to be completed first. You know we had to fight just to be paid $100. Of course I checked the Marilyn negatives first and then I filed them away unprinted and unpublished. They even survived a fire in my darkroom in 1966 and my move to Canada in 1971.’

Amazingly, the Monroe photographs weren’t shown until over 20 years later, in Zimbel’s solo exhibition in 1976 at Confederation Centre of the Arts, Prince Edward Island, Canada. The full set was shown for the first time in 1982 at Galerie Art 45 in Montreal.

As Zimbel reminisces, ‘In January 2000 I had a retrospective in Valencia Spain and my Marilyns were exhibited on the walls of Sala Muralla, a gallery fashioned from an ancient archeological site at Institut Valencia d’Art Modern where they shared space with an ancient plaque of a Roman goddess. I felt it was a homecoming for her image.'”

Hollygrove Alumni Remembers Norma Jeane

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Bill Fredendall of Eden Prairie, Minnesota was born just two years after Marilyn, and knew her as a child at Hollygrove, then known as the Los Angeles Orphans’ Home. He shares his memories of Norma Jeane in a fascinating interview with Karla Wennerstrom of Eden Prairie News.

“‘Very few people in America can say Marilyn Monroe pushed them on the swing,’ said Bill Fredendall of Eden Prairie.

‘My mother and father were divorced and my father got us kids and he evidently couldn’t care for us,’ Fredendall said. Their father, a master electrician with movie studios, put Fredendall, his brother and sister into the Los Angeles Orphans Home Society in 1933 during the Great Depression.

Both of his parents would visit the children, he said.

A 2005 Los Angeles Times story identifies Marilyn Monroe as the most famous alumna of the children’s shelter, which was founded in 1880.

‘Norma Jean Baker was 9 in 1935 when she was brought to the orphanage by an aunt. She lived in a girls’ residence hall whose windows overlooked Paramount Studios [then RKO] and framed its landmark water tower,’ the story said. Her mother ‘was mentally ill and unable to care for her.’

Fredendall said they could see the RKO Studios water tower from the home’s two buildings, which housed about 80 children, girls on one side and boys on the other. There was a play yard and hospital facilities.

The children would walk over to the studio a few times a month to watch a movie.

‘Most of kids were not orphans,’ he said, but were from broken homes.

When asked to describe life in the orphanage, Fredendall said, ‘It was marvelous.’

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The Los Angeles Orphans’ Home

‘We were trained to take care of our own building and take care of ourselves,’ he said.

In the summer, the children would spend time at the beach – more time if you were a boy, he pointed out. ‘I learned to swim in the ocean,’ Fredendall said.

The location in Hollywood meant that celebrities would visit often.

Actor Pat O’Brien, who would later appear in Some Like It Hot with Monroe, stopped by and dropped off 50 cent pieces at each child’s place at the dinner table.

The sister of Oliver Hardy, half of Laurel and Hardy, was a matron at the orphanage.

‘He would come with his chauffeur and limousine packed full of presents for us boys,’ Fredendall said of Hardy.

‘I remember there was an earthquake every once in a while,’ he added. ‘We would all jump around and have fun with that.’

The orphanage was used as a setting in movies.

‘More than once, they would have a scene of a firetruck rescuing someone from the matron’s dormitory,’ Fredendall said. ‘That was very exciting for us to see.’

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Norma Jeane

As for Monroe, ‘She was just Norma Jeane Baker,’ Fredendall said.

‘We sat on the radiators and looked at the front of the RKO studio, up in the sky from where we were,’ Fredendall said.

‘We could see that from the orphanage,’ he said. ‘We all wanted to be in the movies.’

Monroe was a friend of Fredendall’s sister, who was about the same age.

‘She wasn’t Marilyn Monroe in those days.’

Fredendall can’t recall when they realized that the Norma Jeane Baker they knew was the Marilyn Monroe from the movies.

‘It’s kind of always been in the family lore,’ Phyllis Fredendall said.

And the family followed her career.

Phyllis said she remembers when Monroe passed away in 1962, and her father was bereft.

‘She was a good girl,’ Fredendall said.”

‘Dream of Dew’: Chen Ke Retells Marilyn’s Life Story

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Chinese artist Chen Ke has mapped the different stages of Marilyn’s life in her debut gallery show, ‘Dream-Dew’, at Hong Kong’s Galerie Perrotin until June 25, Samuel Spencer reports for BlouinArtInfo.

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“Whereas previous artists have focused on Monroe as an image or icon of a certain era of Hollywood glamour, Chen’s paintings focus on Monroe as person, a woman with hopes, history, and dreams.

For example, in ‘1932 Los Angeles 6 Years Old,’ 2016, Chen shows a young Monroe in the flower garden of a house straight out of an early 20th century American landscape painting. The image is put into question, however, by Monroe’s shadow, which seems to suggest she is posing against a backdrop rather than a real landscape, and by the fact the image is totally removed from the reality of 1930s America, with young Monroe’s blonde hair and clean blue dress at odds with our images of the Great Depression.

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Chen’s idea to paint Monroe’s dreams and real life came from the Chinese character translation of ‘Monroe’, which literally means ‘dream of dew.’ As the artist puts it in a statement, ‘Dream refers to Marilyn’s dreams, also the American Dream, the Hollywood Dream…the large paintings represent dreams of Marilyn’s childhood, youth, adulthood and an imaginary old age,’ while ‘dew is the real, as opposed to dreams.'”

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And finally, here’s part of a personal statement from the artist, Chen Ke:

“A Marilyn Monroe in her teens catches my eyes right away. Innocent and alive, slightly withdrawn and shy, with brightness and darkness like shadows in the sun, the girl was none of the sexy icon she would later be…

In Marilyn’s case, the success of dream pursuit and its attendant life force in the end, are no match for the dark influences planted deep in her unfortunate childhood, making her sad ending a kind of fatalism. In watching her strivings all along, we as knowing viewers can’t help feeling tragic for her, just as we would for Sisyphus who endlessly pushes the rock to the mountain top.”

Curtis Sneary’s ‘Marilyn Monroe Selfie’

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Curtis Sneary, a pop artist living in St Petersburg, Florida is the subject of a new exhibition, as Janelle Faignant reports for Creative Loafing. And on his own website, Sneary shows how he created his painting, ‘Marilyn Monroe Selfie‘, a tongue-in-cheek update to her famous ‘subway scene’ in The Seven Year Itch.  (Fans will know that Marilyn visited St Petersburg in 1961, while ex-husband Joe DiMaggio was coaching the New York Yankees.)

“Sneary and his wife have lived in St. Pete for 14 years now. They are a team in his artwork, with Beth handling business issues and modeling for many pieces, (her body became Marilyn Monroe’s in that painting) and their goal is to make their whole house into a studio in the near future.

Sneary says the answer to the question ‘How long does it take to finish?’ is a lifetime.

‘Because you put all this knowledge into it,’ he says, adding that the physical work averages about 40 hours, or a month to six weeks.

Sneary has shown the landscapes in galleries and sold well but his satirical pop art has been slower to sell, despite its popularity with audiences.

‘It’s not over-the-couch kind of work,’ he says.”

Marilyn Goes ‘Behind the Scenes’ at Cannes

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Marilyn never went to Cannes, but as the 2016 film festival gets underway, she’ll be there in spirit, W Magazine reports. Magnum photographer Bruce Davidson’s shot of Marilyn with co-star Clark Gable and director John Huston during filming of The Misfits in 1960 is featured in ‘The Art of Behind the Scenes’, an exhibition of images captured on the sets of movies old and new, on display at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes.

Julien’s Adds Strasberg Estate to November Auction

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If the recently-announced November sale of David Gainsborough-Roberts‘ Marilyn collection wasn’t spectacular enough, here comes news that Lee Strasberg’s Monroe archive will also be included. A limited edition, box-set catalogue is also on sale for $250. The list isn’t yet online, but collector Scott Fortner gives us a sneak preview on his blog today. Many items were previously featured in the books Fragments and MM – Personal, and have never been up for sale until now. “I’ve always thought that the 1999 Christie’s auction, ‘The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe’, would most certainly be the most important auction ever when it came to Marilyn,” Scott writes. “However, Julien’s Auctions is moving into this same category…”