Marilyn Monroe, NY May 61957 by Richard Avedon

In Marilyn Monroe, Avedon found a virtuoso of theatrical self-impersonation and with her pursued the mysterious point of convergence between actor and character, between the private self and the public role. “There was no such person as Marilyn Monroe,” he explained in an interview with the filmmaker Helen Whitney. “Marilyn Monroe was someone Marilyn Monroe invented, like an author creates a character.” Recalling the portrait session that took place in his studio on a May evening in 1957, he continued: “For hours she danced and sang and flirted and did this thing that’s—she did Marilyn Monroe. And then there was the inevitable drop. And when the night was over and the white wine was over and the dancing was over, she sat in the corner like a child, with everything gone. I saw her sitting quietly without expression on her face, and I walked towards her but I wouldn’t photograph her.... (
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