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Christie’s : Richard Avedon : Marilyn Monroe, New York City, 1957


Christie’s will propose in New York on Thursday night, May 16, the photograph by Richard Avedon titled Marilyn Monroe, New York City, 1957. This large scale print, artist proof number two of two, aside from an edition of 10, will be auctioned with an estimate of $600,000–$800,000.

“For hours she danced and sang and flirted and did this thing that’s—she did Marilyn Monroe…Then there was the inevitable drop…she sat in the corner like a child, with everything gone…I wouldn’t photograph her without her knowledge of it. And as I came with the camera, I saw that she was not saying no.” – Richard Avedon (quoted in New York Magazine), 24 October 2007.

In Richard Avedon’s iconic photograph of Marilyn Monroe, the actress is captured in a moment of introspection and vulnerability. Monroe, typically known for her glamorous and effervescent public persona, is portrayed in a different light by Avedon; instead of the usual radiant smile and vivacious energy, Monroe appears wistful and distant with her eyes downcast, fixed on the distance, conveying a sense of contemplation and weariness. Avedon’s lens captures a side of Monroe that is rarely seen by the public – seemingly drained and lost in her thoughts. This portrait was taken at a significant time for both Avedon and Monroe, with the photographer starting to gather career momentum and Monroe at her peak of her seductive powers.

On May 6 1957, Monroe arrived at Avedon’s studio on Madison Avenue for a photo shoot to promote her upcoming film, The Prince and the Showgirl. As the actress’s contract with 20th Century Fox came to an end amid a public dispute, a new chapter in her career unfolded with the creation of Marilyn Monroe Productions. Transitioning from being a contract player to managing her own independent production company was a significant shift for Monroe, introducing her to a new realm of responsibilities and challenges. Although this was an exciting time for her career, where she solidified herself in history it was not without struggle. Five years after this portrait was taken, she would die from an overdose at age 36.


Richard Avedon (1923-2024)
Marilyn Monroe, Actress, New York City, 1957

Gelatin silver print, flush mounted on linen
Signed ‘Avedon’ and numbered ‘A.P./2/2’ in pencil, stamped title, date, photographer’s reproduction limitation and edition information (flush mount, verso)
image/sheet/flush mount : 39.5 x 30.5 in. (100.3 x 77.4 cm.)
secondary mount : 42 x 33 in. (100.6 x 83.8 cm.)
This work is artist’s proof number two of two, aside from an edition of ten.

Hamiltons Gallery, London;
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

@ChristiesInc #photography #richardavedon #marilynmonroe

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