Richard Avedon (1923 – 2004) is one of the most respected and accomplished photographers of the 20th century. Upon his death in 2004 The New York Times said "his fashion and portrait photographs helped define America's image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century." It's therefore not surprising that Avedon's definition of a nation's culture includes a series of both vibrant and artistic portraits of one of the most photographed American women of the 20th century, Marilyn Monroe. Recalling a portrait session with Marilyn Monroe that took place in his studio in May 1957, Avedon said, "For hours she danced and sang and flirted and did this thing that's—she did Marilyn Monroe. And then there was the inevitable drop. And when the night was over and the white wine was over and the dancing was over, she sat in the corner like a child, with everything gone. I saw her sitting quietly without expression on her face, and I walked towards her but I wouldn't photograph her without her knowledge of it. And as I came with the camera, I saw that she was not saying no." Avedon was able to capture one of the most photographed stars with her public façade down. In doing so, this photograph shares a rarely seen glimpse into Monroe's inner life.
*Bonus: Below are the contact sheets of Marilyn Monroe and by Richard Avedon in Avedon's studio during the photo shoot in 1957.