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News & Insight

Monroe Photographer dies at age 83, his legacy lives on

By Ruth Dunn on July 10th 2013

Marilyn Monroe is a very familiar face to most of us, but how many people would know the name of the elite commercial photographer behind some of the most engaging photographs taken of Monroe?

Bert Stern was an acclaimed commercial photographer who was a driving force in the redefinition of advertising and fashion art in the 1950s and ‘60s. Stern died on June 26, 2013 in his Manhatten home at age 83, leaving behind an extensive photographic legacy.

One of Stern’s major projects, which is well known to this day, is a series of striking and raw photographs of Marilyn Monroe, taken for Vogue 6 weeks before her death.

Stern told Newsday:

”She was so beautiful at that time […] I didn’t say, ‘Pose nude’. It was more one thing leading to another: You take clothes off and off and off and off and off. She thought for a while. I’d say something and the pose just led to itself.”

Stern’s series of Monroe photograph are called The Last Sitting, for obvious reasons, and includes 2,500 photographs taken over a three day period.

In the 2010 documentary ‘Bert Stern: Original Madman’, Stern said:

”It was a one-time-in-a-lifetime experience, to have Marilyn Monroe in a hotel room, even though it was turned into a studio, where I could do anything I wanted.”

Stern’s half century career included a plethora of other great achievements other than his very well known Monroe images. He also made a documentary called Jazz on a Summer’s Day which was recognised for its historical significance and selected in 1999 for the US National Film Registry.

Stern has left behind a large collection of historically significant photographs, many of which have been collected by major galleries and museums. His impact on the fashion, advertising and art world will not be forgotten.


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Ruth is a Brisbane based journalist specialising in articles about visual art, photography, design and fashion. Co-founder of Raw Ink magazine, she enjoys uncovering interesting and unique events, issues and people to write about.

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Thanks for sharing.

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