When Bert Stern photographed Marilyn Monroe for Vogue in 1962, he had no way of knowing that, just six weeks later at her death, his photos would serve as the sex symbol’s final enduring images. That is, until last night, when Stern decided it was high time that he gave his most famous subject a makeover.
“I Want To Be Loved By You,” hummed overhead while guests swirled around Milk Gallery, eager to see the icon’s new look in “Marilyn Reinvented.” With glitter, paint and colorful stones, Stern has reworked his famous photos to add new depth and energy. They’re still the same images you recognize – Monroe stretching playfully in bed, or spinning a beaded necklace around her bare neck – but now the white sheets are dashed with glittering silver, and the necklace is encrusted with actual stones that flicker and hang in Monroe’s teasing grasp.
“Aren’t these amazing?” remarked one distinguished-looking man wearing a sharp suit and a sharper goatee. “They just come alive. We already own these prints but this makes them 3-D and fun.”
That sentiment was repeated throughout the gallery. After learning that Stern – who reportedly attended the opening incognito – is 83, Maribel Lieberman wondered if a younger family member or assistant had a hand in the project. “They’re gorgeous and amazing and modern,” she said.
A few guests were surprised to see how some of Stern’s photos captured a Monroe who agreed to be photographed without makeup and could no longer hide her advancing years. “You can really see her age,” remarked one young woman.
Regardless of their opinion, almost everyone agreed that it was Marilyn Monroe’s tragic, captivating presence that elevated these beautiful photos into something more. Said one man standing in front of a sparkling, winking Monroe: “I like this one. It looks like she’s already on her way.”
Photo By: Therese + Joel
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