• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2252

    Icons of Glamour and Style: The Constantiner Collection

    16 - 17 December 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 27

    RICHARD AVEDON (1923-2004)

    Marilyn Monroe, actress, New York City, 1957

    Price Realised  


    RICHARD AVEDON (1923-2004)
    Marilyn Monroe, actress, New York City, 1957
    gelatin silver print, printed 1980
    signed, numbered '4/25' in pencil, copyright credit reproduction limitation, title, date and edition stamps (on the verso)
    13 x 10 5/8in. (32.9 x 26.9cm.)

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766


    Sotheby's, New York, October 5, 1995, lot 454A.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Avedon's camera refuses to confer distinction. It meets each individual head-on; [his subjects are] allowed only such graces as may come through the vacant stare of the lens.
    Harold Rosenberg


    Avedon and Baldwin, Nothing Personal, Penguin Books, 1964, unpaginated;
    Avedon, Portraits, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1976, unpaginated;
    Avedon, Autobiography, Random House, 1993, pl. 134;
    Avedon, Evidence, 1944-1994, Random House, 1994, p. 138;
    Avedon, Portraits, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002, unpaginated.

    Post Lot Text

    This poignant image has been the subject of considerable commentary. Colin Westerbeck has noted how 'From his 1957 photograph of Marilyn Monroe, characteristically, Avedon banished every trace of the erotic charm and effervescence for which the actress was celebrated. She appears here crestfallen. Behind the beautiful face, her spirits sag as gravely as the body beneath the sequinned dress.

    Avedon's portrait has turned his subject from a star into a mere mortal. Avedon published this image in his 1964 book Nothing Personal with the caption, 'Marilyn Monroe, Actress', as if she were someone unknown, an example of a social type like the subjects labelled only by their professions in the 1920s work of August Sander (to which Avedon was, quite consciously, making allusion).' (quoted in: 'Beyond the Photographic Frame', On the Art of Fixing a Shadow, Bulfinch Press Little, Brown & Company, 1989, p. 374.)