WHAT: Lawrence Schiller’s “Marilyn & Me”
WHEN: Through June 30, Tuesday-Saturday 11am-6pm.
WHERE: Steven Kasher Gallery, 521 West 23rd Street, New York.
WHY THIS SHOW MATTERS: The timing for this show of photographer Lawrence Schiller’s behind-the-scenes shots of the late Marilyn Monroe couldn’t be better, and the early attention is evidence that even 50 years after the starlet’s death America is still in love with the gentle, blue-eyed blonde who graced the silver screen. In Schiller’s first solo exhibition in the United States more than 50 photographs of the actress are on view at Steven Kasher Gallery, from original proof sheets with Monroe’s notes and edits, to rare images from photo shoots long forgotten.
The 2011 British drama, “My Week With Marilyn,” starring Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh, bears a strikingly similar narrative to Schiller’s exhibition. The film is based on the writings of filmmaker Colin Clark about his first job in film, working as an assistant director on Lawrence Olivier’s 1957 comedy “The Prince and the Showgirl.” Both are narratives about young men aspiring to success, and their interactions, as intimate outsiders, with Monroe. “You’re already famous, now you’re going to make me famous,” states Schiller in a quote from the exhibition press release, recalling a conversation he had with the actress in 1962. While Schiller’s promise that she would make him famous seems to have panned out (he went on to photograph figures such as Robert F. Kennedy and Barbara Streisand, among others), the importance of his work stems from its subtle portrayal of the complex icon he photographed. Like Clark in his story, Schiller was able to access a side of Monroe that she gave carefully but willingly to those she trusted. Her vulnerability is exposed and palpable through his lens, and the story he tells reveals an important side of Monroe that it has taken half a century to discover.
To see photographs from the exhibition click the slide show.