Marilyn Monroe

MMPhoto by Elliott Erwitt

(some of these images – and many more! – are part of the exhibit Magnum on Set

“Photographing Marilyn Monroe on the set of The Seven-Year Itch in Times Square, New York, Erwitt plays at being the flâneur whose wanderings around the city are prompted by erotic opportunism. Here there is no need for a narrative, a diptych or trilogy that organises images into a short story. Monroe, unlike the characters in the other sequences, sticks to her assigned spot above the ventilation duct, and it is the frisky draught that introduces time and change into the scene as it plays with her dress and cools her private parts. In the film, the flapping of the white cloth is a hasty, dazzling blur, accompanied by Monroe’s squeals of embarrassed delight. The photographs slow the process down and savour each separate phase of it, protracting our pleasure. The result is an array of poems written with light, contrasting the self-conscious stance of the woman – those spread legs and taut ankles, the tossed head or the naughty bumping and grinding of her bottom – with the uncontrollable antics of the dress, which behaves in successive frames like a flaunting tail, an inverted flower, a soft shell or a billowing parachute. None of these arrested moments is decisive, as Henri Cartier-Bresson expected photographs to be, but they are all delicious. The wind is the joker, and its wit is lighter than air; sequential time is suspended, so there is no need for the smile to ever fade from our faces.”

Peter Conrad, for ‘The Observer

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