“Marilyn knew how light shaped her body and face, sheknew what a camera was capturing at any one moment,” said photographer LawrenceSchiller, whose infamous nude photographs of the late actress on the set of 1962’s
Something’s Got to Give are currently on view at the Duncan MillerGallery in Los Angeles.
“She very seldom took directions as to expressions oremotions,” Schiller told The Daily Beast. “If you gave her a scarf, she knewhow to play with it like a child would with a toy. If you gave her a two-piecebathing suit, she knew exactly when to take it off and that doing so would wipeLiz Taylor off all the magazine covers.”
The shoot with Schiller marked the first time in 10years that Marilyn had agreed to be pose without her clothes on, and hermotives were clear: she wanted to prove to 20th Century Fox that as a publicitytool she was as valuable as any actress in the world.
One of the photographs from the shoot graced the cover of Life magzine that year in what became one of the magazine’s mostlegendary issues. A particularly striking picture featured in the Duncan Millerexhibit shows an implicitly nude Marilyn hanging on the side of a pool with onebare leg resting on the edge, her mouth open and inviting, teasing the viewerto join her for a dip. Schiller’s 6-year-old daughter made an astuteobservation about the photo several years after it was taken: “That’s a picturethat says everything but shows nothing.”
The shoot took place four months before Marilyntragically died, and yet we see nothing of a woman on the verge of a breakdown.
“She was performing. She was playing her role for thestill camera just as she had done for the moving camera,” Schiller said.“Marilyn had the ability to take her personal demons, put them in a room and shutthe door. Once the door was closed, they no longer existed in her mind.”
The photographs thus reveal Marilyn as the public knewher to be—a woman who effortlessly exuded sexuality.