Bill Cunningham, best known as the ‘on-the-street’ photojournalist at the New York Times, has lived at Carnegie Hall for sixty years. This week, Cunningham and Carnegie’s four other remaining tenants are moving out as the legendary concert venue is set to become a music school.
In his latest slideshow, Cunningham talks about his bohemian home and the many famous names who have visited him there. During the 1950s, when Cunningham designed hats, Marilyn Monroe would pass through on her way home from the Actor’s Studio.
The image of Marilyn trying on hats in Cunningham’s studio apartment reminded me of some beautiful photographs of her taken by Carl Perutz, used by illustrator Jon Whitcomb for artwork in American Weekly. (Whitcomb’s painting was kept by her ex-husband, Joe DiMaggio, until his death.)
Although Cunningham was then a hatmaker – and not yet a photographer – at this time, I wonder if he might know the story behind these pictures?
“My husband makes fun of me because I love to color. Usually, I am coloring with a kid but there have been times when a kid stopped coloring and I just kept on going. I really like this coloring book because I love Marilyn Monroe. The pictures are absolutely gorgeous, even before color hits the page. I’ve almost colored all the pages, so now I need to get another one.”
Leave it to Liz Smith, the first mainstream journalist to notice that the Eve Arnold prints at Castle Galleries, heralded by the media as ‘rare and unseen’, have all been published before.
“EVE ARNOLD, the great photographer, took many wonderful pictures of Marilyn Monroe over the course of six years. Eve, maternal and intelligent, was the only female photographer Monroe ever allowed. (MM was more comfortable with men, especially when doing her ‘thing’ for the still camera.) Eve has always spoken of Marilyn in the highest regard, as a photographic subject and as a sensitive human being.
Now there’s a collection of Eve’s prints up for auction. They are wonderful, but they are not, as widely claimed, ‘rare’ or unpublished. All have been seen over the years. The prints have been spiffed up from the original negatives but there’s nothing new.
Perhaps someday, the nudes Eve Arnold took of Marilyn during the famous 1960 slip/bikini session, will show up. (This was the session where Marilyn told Eve, ‘I want to look like Botticelli’s Venus rising from the sea.’ Eve, surveying the star’s zaftig curves, replied: ‘Maybe we should go for Rubens.’) The nudes – MM in bed – were stolen from Ms. Arnold’s studio decades ago and never recovered.
“Daft headline of the week: ‘Portraits reveal a playful side to Marilyn Monroe,’ said the heading on a news story, published on Tuesday, about some previously unseen photographs. It just about could have got away with ‘show’, but the word ‘reveal’ definitely implies that nobody has hitherto suspected that Monroe had a playful side. This headline was obviously written by one of the three people in the world who have not seen Some Like It Hot.”
Scarlett Johansson‘s 2009 photo shoot for Dolce & Gabbana cosmetics was very obviously Marilyn-inspired. This year she is going gothic, but the leopardskin wrap reminds me ever so slightly of this Eve Arnold portrait…