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The Last Sitting. 1962.
In June 1962 Bert Stern flew to Los Angeles, having been commissioned by Vogue to do a fashion shoot with Marilyn Monroe. No one dreamed that this would be her 'last sitting'. Only six weeks later Marilyn Monroe was dead. Bert Stern succeeded in capturing the star's natural body language, her acting talent and unsuspected elegance. At the same time, the photographs also open up an almost imperceptible perspective exposing the fragility of the illusion.
Stern does not portray her as an 'object of desire'; he gives her and her body the right to self-assertion. The Marilyn of these photographs has nothing in common with the 'dumb blonde' of her films. Despite the perfect make-up, marcelled hair and couture gowns, it is Norma Jean Baker who comes to the fore here, the woman behind the icon revealing obvious enjoyment in her self-determined pose. It is this combination of image and individuality that finally constitutes the enduring quality and uniqueness of this series of photographs.