Marilyn Monroe: Unfiltered and Timeless in Bert Stern’s “The Last Sitting”

The world knows Marilyn Monroe as a symbol of beauty and glamour. Her iconic image has graced countless magazine covers and movie screens. But a series of photographs taken by Bert Stern in 1962, just weeks before her death, offer a different, more intimate glimpse into the life of this enigmatic star.

These photos, published in the book “Marilyn Monroe: The Complete Last Sitting,” are not your typical glossy studio portraits. They’re raw, unfiltered, and surprisingly vulnerable. They capture a woman who is both alluring and melancholic, playful and weary.

A Candid Look Behind the Curtain

Stern’s photographs are a departure from the carefully curated image of Monroe that was often presented to the public. They were taken during a marathon three-day shoot in a hotel room in Los Angeles. Monroe, free from the constraints of studio lighting and direction, allowed herself to be photographed in a way that was both unguarded and revealing.

We see her laughing, her face lit up with a genuine smile, her eyes sparkling with mischief. We see her pensive, her gaze turned inward, her expression hinting at a deep sadness. We see her wrapped in a sheer scarf, her body partially exposed, her vulnerability on full display.

The Beauty of Imperfection

One of the most striking aspects of Stern’s photographs is their embrace of imperfection. Monroe’s makeup is smudged, her hair is tousled, and her body bears the marks of a life lived fully. Yet, she is no less beautiful for it. In fact, it’s these imperfections that make the photos so compelling.

Stern’s photographs capture the full spectrum of Monroe’s emotions. We see her joy, her sadness, her sensuality, her loneliness. It’s as if we are witnessing a private performance, a glimpse into the inner world of a woman who was often misunderstood.

One moment, she is playful and flirty, her eyes twinkling with amusement. The next, she is withdrawn and contemplative, her gaze fixed on some unseen point in the distance. It’s a testament to Stern’s skill as a photographer that he was able to capture such a wide range of emotions in a single sitting.

Written by Emily Madison

Emily Madison, a vintage enthusiast with a passion for all things old Hollywood and retro. When she's not busy fawning over her collection of vintage record players, you can find her cuddling with her beloved feline companions. With a love for classic films and a penchant for collecting vintage treasures, Emily is always on the lookout for the next big find.

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