Long before Monroe-inspired photo shoots became de rigueur, Marilyn herself posed as five ‘fabled enchantresses’ for LIFE magazine in 1958. She considered the session on a par with her best screen performances, and in his accompanying text, husband Arthur Miller supported that claim. In a week when another Richard Avedon sold at auction for more than $8K (see here), the Flashbak website looks back at their supreme collaboration.
“As in life so in these pictures — [Marilyn] salutes fantasy from the shore of the real until there comes a moment when she carries us, reality and all, into the dream with her, and we are grateful. Her wit here consists of her absolute commitment to two ordinarily irreconcilable opposites — the real feminine and the man’s fantasy of femininity. We know she knows the difference in these pictures, but is refusing to concede that there is any contradiction, and it is serious and funny at the same time.
I am quite conceivably prejudiced, but I think this collection is a wonder of Marilyn’s wittiness. As Lillian Russell, Marilyn sits [on] the solid gold bicycle just inexpertly enough to indicate that she is, after all, a lady… Her hands lace around the bike handles so much more femininely than they grasp the fan as Clara Bow. And here again is the difference between imitation and interpretation, between making an affect and rendering a spirit.”Arthur Miller