Writing for the Mutual Art website, Jordan Mitchell explores the history of the Magnum Photos agency through ten iconic photographers. Marilyn is mentioned in relation to Eve Arnold (see above), but three more of the other artists also photographed her on the set of The Misfits…
Cinema Through the Eye of Magnum, a new documentary about the legendary photo agency, will be screened for the first time in the UK tonight at 10pm on BBC4. This image, captured by Ernst Haas, shows fellow Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt among the cast and crew of The Misfits.
“The Misfits was a pivotal moment in photographers’ relationship with cinema. Lee Jones, Magnum’s head of special projects in New York, decided that the film’s dream cast deserved special attention. Nine different photographers took turns over 3 months of the shoot to capture the ‘total chaos’ on what would be Marilyn Monroe’s last film.
Eve Arnold, Magnum’s first woman member, was Monroe’s trusted collaborator. Having previously worked with Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford, she started photographing Monroe when they were both relatively unknown. She spent two months on the set of the John Huston movie.
Photographer Bruce Davidson remarked, ‘Marilyn is really in torment – this was the movie where it all collapsed. And the hidden homosexuality, total neurosis, drugs, the whole works (on set). This film is a turning point, and the photographs document the disintegration of a system.’
Clark Gable had a heart attack the day after filming wrapped on The Misfits and died a few days later.”
Inge Morath: On Style is a new book focusing on the late photographer’s work in fashion and film. Her images of Marilyn on the set of The Misfits are elegant and tender, and the knowledge that Morath would become Arthur Miller’s third wife adds a note of poignancy. Author Justine Picardie writes about Inge’s work with director John Huston, and her later encounter with Arthur which led to a long and happy marriage, in a blog post for the Magnum website.
“This was also the period when Morath first started working with the director John Huston; one of her earliest assignments was to photograph the stills for his film Moulin Rouge in London in 1952, which was to be the start of a lifelong friendship … Huston would later describe Morath as ‘a high priestess of photography,’ a woman with ‘the rare ability to penetrate beyond surfaces and reveal what makes her subject tick.’
Morath’s friendship with Huston was to play an important part in her personal life, as well as her career. In 1959, she travelled to Mexico to photograph the making of his film The Unforgiven … The following year, Morath visited the set of another of Huston’s films, The Misfits, accompanied by her Magnum colleague, Henri Cartier-Bresson.
When Morath was subsequently asked by the New York Times about the experience of photo- graphing Monroe, she described the actress as ‘kind of shimmery. But there was also this sadness underneath. A poetry of unhappiness. That was what was so mesmerizing, the twofold thing you got, the unhappiness always underneath the joy and the glamour…that was the poetry.’ In the same interview, Morath added one more intriguing fragment to the story. ‘I once dreamt we both danced together, Marilyn and I. It was beautiful.'”
A current exhibition at New York’s Milk Gallery – on display until July 13 – explores how classic Magnum photos were created via contact sheets, including this Eve Arnold shot of Marilyn filming The Misfits, reports NY Magazine.
Its remit goes beyond The Misfits however, celebrating Magnum photos from other eras as well as other notable photographers including Alfred Eisenstadt and Nahum Baron.
Some of the photos above – by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Inge Morath and Eve Arnold – were rare for me. You can view them all here.
“Etherton Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibition, Marilyn, Magnum and The Misfits, featuring a selection of photographs of Marilyn Monroe from a private Los Angeles collection. Most of the photographs on display are from the set of Marilyn’s last film, The Misfits, takenby notable Magnum photographers including Eve Arnold, Bruce Davidson, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dennis Stock, and Inge Morath. A selection of early contact sheets by Hollywood photographer Earl Leaf and fashion and celebrity photographer, Phillipe Halsman, will also be on view from November 23, 2013 – January 11, 2014.
Magnum Photos, founded in 1947 by several well-known photographers including Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa, was the first artist-owned photo agency, allowing its numerous members to take control of their careers while giving them the freedom to search out events and people and ultimately inform a world hungry for information.
“You’re a real beautiful woman. It’s almost kind of an honor sittin’ next to ya’.”
With those words from the 1961 film, The Misfits, star Clark Gable wryly said what photographers world-wide knew about Marilyn Monroe: she was just special and no more so than when in front of a camera. And she knew it.
Incomparable director John Huston had a royal flush of a cast starring Monroe and Gable, along with Eli Wallach and Montgomery Clift, and he made sure that only the best photographers were on set for the press photos, and those photographers were from Magnum.
Lining up to film the stars while on and off the set –it would tragically be the last film for Monroe and Gable —were Magnum photographers including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eve Arnold, Inge Morath, Philippe Halsman, Bruce Davidson, and Dennis Stock.
Along with The Misfits images, is a select group of contact sheets by photographer Earl Leaf, known for his work with magazines from Time to Movie Spotlight. This intriguing group gives a sweet look at an early unknown Marilyn, swinging from a tree and doing cartwheels for the camera in 1950 and then 6 years later, at age 30, when she staged a publicity session to keep her image in front of the public during a one-year period when she was producing films and not acting.
The camera was always in love with the beautiful Monroe, and this rare exhibit of vintage contact sheets and press photos represents a historic look at one of the world’s most well-known film stars. Resplendent in her natural beauty, the portraits and vintage contact sheets reveal the drive, desire, sadness, and pure spirit of one of Hollywood’s most photographed and relished stars
All photographs copyright the artists, courtesy Magnum Photo Agency and Etherton Gallery.”
“Famous Faces Yet Not Themselves offers a multilayered study of the Magnum photographs from the 1961 film The Misfits. By closely scrutinizing the images from one of America’s most haunting and least understood films, George Kouvaros presents a new recognition of the connection between the power of star culture, art photography, and the film industry during a time of rapid social transformation.”
And a quick review from me:
“This book is both a study of the 1961 film, The Misfits, and of postwar American photography. The Misfits came with high expectations, but was considered a disappointment. The off-screen drama of Monroe’s breakdown and Gable’s death seemed to overshadow the story. The producers gave Magnum Photos exclusive rights to cover the shoot, and so it was perhaps the first time a Hollywood film was shown in the more realistic medium of photojournalism. Consequently, the stars also seemed more human and flawed than before. Kouvaros argues that these photos enhance our understanding of The Misfits, and that it represents a transition between classic and modern modes of film-making. On first reading, I found some of the writing too abstract – but when Kouvaros marries his ideas to examples from the photographs and the movie itself, it becomes rather enjoyable.”
Magnum photographer Dennis Stock – who shot Marilyn at work on Bus Stop and The Misfits – is the subject of a new documentary, Beyond Iconic, directed by Hanna Sawka and screening at the Rosendale Theatre Collective in the Hudson Valley, New York State, tomorrow (April 21st) at 7.15pm.
A retrospective exhibition for photographer Dennis Stock, who died in 2010, is now at New York’s Milk Gallery until April 17th. This image shows Marilyn, in costume for There’s No Business Like Show Business, watching Marlon Brando filming Desiree in 1954.
Stock also shot the iconic ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ photo of James Dean. His pictures of Marilyn are featured in the 2012 book, Marilyn By Magnum.