The MTA is providing an opportunity for new generations of New Yorkers to become acquainted with the work of photographer and filmmaker Sam Shaw at two locations on 42nd Street, in the 42 St-Bryant Park BDFM7 subway station. A supersized version of the iconic subway grate photograph is on view at 42 nd Street and Broadway, just outside of the entrance to the Times Square subway complex.
The installation offers New Yorkers a view of rarely seen photographs of the actress captured by her friend and longtime photographer Sam Shaw. The image of Marilyn Monroe stepping over a subway grate as a gust of wind sends her skirt twirling was staged and photographed by Sam Shaw on Lexington Avenue in front of the then Trans-Lux Theatre between 51 st and 52nd Streets as a publicity still for the film "The Seven Year Itch" shot in 1954. Other images are from 1957, when the two spent a day wandering around Manhattan, taking photos in Central Park, along Fifth Avenue, and elsewhere.
Shaw met Monroe in the early 1950's, when he was working as a photographer on the set of "Viva Zapata" and they became close friends as she drove him to the set every morning. The period 1954 to 1958 was a time when Monroe tried to shed her blonde sex bombshell image and moved to New York to study acting. During this time, Sam documented her relationship with Arthur Miller, relaxed moments at the beach in Amagansett and Connecticut and her walks in NYC. When asked about Sam Shaw, Marilyn said, "He always makes me look my best". When asked about Marilyn, Sam explained, "I just want to show this fascinating woman, with her guard down, at work, at ease offstage, during joyous moments in her life and as she often was - alone". A special issue of Newsweek, January 2014, included a scrapbook of Marilyn's which contains details about their close relationship.
Sam Shaw, a lifelong New Yorker, was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1912. He was a photojournalist in the 1940s, and by the 1950s his photographs appeared frequently on the cover of Life, Look and other major publications. He photographed films and stars and produced many films, including John Cassavetes' groundbreaking, award-winning "Gloria," "Opening Night," and "A Woman Under the Influence." A WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC exhibition entitled, "Marilyn: The New York Years" included the photographs from the MTA Arts for Transit project. The large images were printed by Duggal Visual Solutions.