An Evening with Marilyn
Curated by James Cavello
WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC presented an exhibition of iconic photographs of Marilyn Monroe by legendary photographer Douglas Kirkland, October 26 - December 29, 2012. The exhibition featured seductive photographs of Monroe posing for Kirkland lounging on a bed, wrapped up in mere silk white sheets, in a Hollywood studio on November 17th, 1961. Marilyn passed away less than a year later on August 5th, 1962; 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of her death. On view were images never before shown to the public, as well as a series of aesthetically superior quality carbon prints, made exclusively for the exhibition. Also on display were black and white images of Kirkland himself, while behind the scenes in the California apartment where the photo shoot took place. One photograph shows Kirkland as he leans dramatically over an interior balcony to capture ethereal images of Monroe in the bed positioned below.
The shoot became sensationalized by virtue of the seemingly intimate connection between the two: Kirkland was a 27 year old emerging photojournalist working for Look Magazine, spending an evening alone with 35 year old Monroe, the Hollywood movie star with an elusive sex symbol status. Kirkland met with Monroe three times to complete the shoot of which he has famously stated was like meeting three different women. Before the shoot, Monroe presented herself as a wide-eyed, sweet-tempered actress, while during the shoot she was an irresistible, provocative siren. The next day, Kirkland discovered a Monroe that was despondent.
In addition to the photographs of Marilyn, the exhibition included a premiere presentation of artistic nude photographs taken over several decades of Kirkland's career. Black and white images of embracing and dancing bodies including two stunning photographs of Naomi Campbell depict the mystique and beauty of the nude form.
About the Photographer
In 1957, Douglas Kirkland’s career began with an apprenticeship to the photographer Irving Penn. As the genre of photojournalism became mainstream, he was hired by Look Magazine. He became known for the 1960's essays, revealing portrayals of celebrated figures, more notably Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Coco Chanel and Marlene Dietrich, among others. Over the course of his career Kirkland has collaborated both nationally and internationally with directors on more than 100 film sets, has authored countless books and has accomplished a myriad of projects. His fine art photographs have been exhibited worldwide and received recognition for their historic and artistic value. His exhibition titled "Freeze Frame" is in the permanent collection of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Kirkland's photographs are also included in the collections of Smithsonian, National Portrait Gallery in London, National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Australia, Eastman House in Rochester, Houston Center for Photography and Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles.
His photographs are currently touring museums in the US and abroad. An exhibition of black and white photographs of Coco Chanel from 1962 organized by Westwood Gallery NYC in collaboration with Chanel Inc is touring major cities in Asia. Douglas Kirkland's photographs have been on view at numerous institutions, including Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, Southeast Museum of Photography, The Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh, PA), Metropolitan Museum of Photography (Tokyo, Japan), Hallmark Museum of Contemporary Photography, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (The Netherlands), Museum of the Triennale (Milan, Italy). His solo exhibition, "My Life in Pictures," at Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia was rated number three in attendance by Art Newspaper for all 2010 international museum exhibitions of photography.
Photographs © Douglas Kirkland