“Andre, let’s take pictures again! Let’s make history! Do you have a nice bathing suit I can wear?” Marilyn Monroe is reported to have asked the legendary photographer Andre de Dienes, who was the first to take pictures of her and was later her lover. Andre de Dienes exhibition Andre de Dienes Marilyn Monroe and California Nudes, presented at Steven Kasher Gallery, New York, takes us on a journey of one of the most celebrated transformations in film’s history. Seen as a series, the transformation of Marilyn Monroe in her late years to a glamorous and troubled star is on full display. Accompanying some of the most legendary images of the actress are also the photographs from de Dienes’ series of California nudes.
In 1945, when de Dienes first met Monroe, he was struck by her innocence and beauty, calling the then 19-year-old model and actress named Norma Jeanne Baker a “miracle” and a “sexy looking angel”. This innocent, carefree and casual-looking Monroe was what the photographer always tried to convey and searched for. The world admired the blond bombshell, yet the photographer saw Monroe transform into a “ magnificent, elegant young woman”, which inspired de Dienes to publish a memoir titled Marilyn Mon Amour in 1985 and a monumental monograph titled Marilyn in 2002. The last photograph in photography series with de Dienes Monroe initiated herself. The late call, which came one night in 1953 resulted in the meeting of the photographer to the dark side of Monroe. Without a flash or professional lighting, her face lit with the headlight of a car, de Dienes shows us a lonely and sad Monroe in a dark valley in Beverly Hills.
From the very beginning, the photographer was love-struck and as we all know, he was not the only one. One of Monroe’s first lovers, de Dienes photographed her privately in 1945, 1946, 1949 and 1953 and these images mark an important and essential part of de Dienes' life and career. Working for the fashion industry, the photographer often moved and in 1951, the move to Hollywood marked the beginning of a collaboration with different movie stars, such as Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor, and the experimentation with nudes and landscapes. These images mark de Dienes' interest in presenting avant-garde nudes. Like many West Coast photographers, including Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Brett Weston, the fascination with the dessert didn’t bypass de Dienes. Playing with photomontage and the double exposure, these images are uncannily reminiscent of Hans Bellmer’s Dolls, and present nudes as if from a dream-like worlds.
Steven Kasher Gallery is proud to present a first solo show of photographer Andre de Dienes in New York in over ten years. The exhibition Andre de Dienes Marilyn Monroe and California Nudes will feature more than fifty lifetime prints from the photographer’s most famous series, Marilyn Monroe, and California Nudes. The exhibition, opening June 9, 2016, and lasting till July 29, 2016, presents a unique glimpse of the young Marilyn, her transformation, and the play with nudes and desert landscape of one of the celebrated photographers, who not only left these striking images but 24 books of his nudes.
All images courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery, New York. Featured image in slider: André de Dienes - Nude, ca. 1960 Gelatin silver print, printed ca. 1965, detail; André de Dienes - Marilyn Monroe, Tobay Beach, Long Island, NY, Summer 1949 Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1965; André de Dienes - Marilyn Monroe, Tobay Beach, Long Island, NY, Summer 1949; André de Dienes - Marilyn Monroe Reading the Script "Niagara", May 15, 1952 Gelatin silver print, printed ca. 1965; André de Dienes - Nude, before 1963 Gelatin silver print, printed before 1963.