Shropshire Star

Three Marilyn Monroe photos lent by Sir Elton John for V&A exhibition

The photographs include one from American snapper Bert Stern which captures Monroe two months before she died in 1962 the age of 36.

Last updated
Elton John Aids Foundation – A Midsummer Party – Antibes

Three images of Hollywood film star Marilyn Monroe have been lent to the Victoria and Albert (V&A) museum by Sir Elton John and his husband David Furnish.

The photographs include one from American snapper Bert Stern’s Vogue photo shoots, titled The Last Sitting, which captures Monroe looking like she is lost in thought –  two months before she died in 1962 at the age of 36.

Film – Misfits – Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe
Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe in a scene from the movie Misfits (PA)

As part of Fragile Beauty: Photographs From The Sir Elton John And David Furnish Collection, the singer, who wrote Candle In The Wind in memory of Monroe, also provided two other images.

These include Richard Avedon’s 1957 photograph of the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes actress in New York, without her usual smiling facade, and Eve Arnold’s portrait of Monroe rehearsing her lines on the set of her final film, 1961’s The Misfits with Clark Gable, who died before its release.

The photographs are being “presented together to the public for the first time”, the V&A said, and is the museum’s “largest temporary exhibition of photography to date”.

More than 300 rare prints from 140 photographers were selected from Sir Elton and Furnish’s collection of over 7,000 images for the gallery in South Kensington, London.

Images of American singer Aretha Franklin, London-born Hollywood actress Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Liverpool band The Beatles, civil rights leader Malcolm X and US jazz musician Chet Baker are also being shown.

(© Eve Arnold, Magnum Photos)
Eve Arnold’s portrait of Monroe rehearsing her lines on the set of her final film 1961’s The Misfits (Eve Arnold/Magnum Photos/V&A/PA)

Many of the images are on public display for the first time, according to the museum, and are “intensely personal” for the musician and his partner, who keep the photographs at their private residences.

The collection covers from 1950 to the present day and follows on from 2016’s the Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection, which showed images ranging from the 1920s to the 1950s at Tate Modern.

American photographer Nan Goldin’s 149 Thanksgiving photographs, which celebrate her friendships and those she has lost, will be arranged floor to ceiling at the V&A.

An installation of the prints by Goldin, from Sir Elton’s collection, drew controversy when they were displayed at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts in Gateshead.

EE British Academy Film Awards 2023 – Arrivals – London
Nan Goldin is an American photographer (Ian West/PA).

In 2007, the Crown Prosecution Service investigated a photograph, entitled Klara And Edda Belly-Dancing 1998, and found it was not an indecent image after Northumbria Police took it away for examination to determine whether or not it breached pornography legislation.

There are also works at the V&A by Americans Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, William Eggleston, Diane Arbus and Carrie Mae Weems, and Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei, along with Sir Elton’s new acquisitions by Tyler Mitchell, Trevor Paglen and An-My Le.

Through “eight thematic sections, Fragile Beauty will explore themes such as fashion, reportage, celebrity, the male body, and American photography”.

Historical events such as the 1960s Civil Rights movement, 1980s Aids campaigning and the attacks on the US on September 11 2001 will also be documented.

Other highlights include David LaChapelle’s portrait of Sir Elton with two eggs over his eyes, Mapplethorpe’s self-portrait of himself wearing Horns and British director and artist Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Crying Men, a 2004 work showed a number of Hollywood stars such as Laurence Fishburne, Robin Williams and Daniel Craig in tears.

David LaChapelle’s Elton John: Egg On His Face, New York, 1999 will be on display (David LaChapelle/V&A/PA)

Taylor-Johnson went to direct erotic drama Fifty Shades Of Grey and Nowhere Boy, about Beatles star John Lennon’s early life.

The collection also has photogram portraits of Sir Elton and Furnish’s children taken by Adam Fuss, and AP photographer Julio Cortez’s image of an activist carrying an upside-down US flag next to a burning building amid the 2020 Minneapolis protests following the death of George Floyd.

A portrait of transgender actress Candy Darling in her hospital bed by Peter Hujar and Tom Bianchi’s pictures of men enjoying resorts when same-sex sexual activity was illegal in parts of the US in the 1970s and 1980s are also being shown.

The exhibition is part of the partnership between the V&A and Sir Elton and Furnish and follows on from their support for the museum’s photography centre in 2019.

It was originally announced in October with more details released on Monday.

Fragile Beauty: Photographs From The Sir Elton John And David Furnish Collection opens on May 18 2024 and runs until January 5 2025.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.