Friday, January 06, 2012

Eve Arnold, perhaps best known for her photographs of Marilyn Monroe, dies at age 99


I just found out that Magnum photojournalist Eve Arnold, the first woman taken on as a photographer by the famous photo agency, has died at age 99. Arnold was the only woman who regularly took photos of Marilyn Monroe, and the two women shared a rare, collaborative bond, which Arnold reminisces about in this video.

A couple years ago I blogged about one of Arnold's best known photos of Marilyn -- the summery photo of her reading Ulysses on a merry-go-round. In writing about their cover image, Poets and Writers editor Mary Gannon wrote this tribute to the actress and the photographer.
The photograph was taken in 1955 by Eve Arnold. In Joyce and Popular Culture, R.B. Kershner quotes a letter from Arnold about the day she took the shot:
We worked on a beach on Long Island…I asked her what she was reading when I went to pick her up (I was trying to get an idea of how she spent her time). She she kept Ulysses in her car and had been reading it for a long time. She said she loved the sound of it and would read it aloud to herself to try to make sense of it–but she found it hard going. She couldn’t read it consecutively. When we stopped at a local playground to photograph she got out the book and started to read while I loaded the film. So, of course, I photographed her.
Along with a certain irony (blonde bombshell tackles her century’s most baffling book), the photo–everything about it–has a nostalgic appeal. For those, like me, with a fetishistic attachment to books, there’s the well-worn hardback, the title and author’s name rendered elegantly on its cover. The merry-go-round Monroe sits on elicits memories of days filled with unstructured play. And behind her, the grassy clearing under the shade of the trees offers just the right place to get lost in a book.

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