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New York photographer Ed Feingersh can be thanked for shooting some of the most beautiful black and white photographs of Marilyn Monroe ever taken. Pictured during her so called 'New York Exile' in early 1955 as she attempted to break free from the constraints of her contract with Twentieth Century Fox.

Feingersh shadows Marilyn during the course of a tumultuous week, following her around the city as she goes about her private and public life. They travel incognito on the New York subway, go to costume fittings and the premiere of Tennessee Williams' 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof'. Marilyn is captured relaxing in her hotel suite, dressing for events and putting on her make up. The week culminates in a legendary appearance astride a pink elephant at a benefit performance of The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden.

As you view these rare and intimate photographs you discover a Marilyn fluctuating between fresh faced self confidence and extreme vulnerability. Vibrant and cheerful one minute, pensive and serious the next. A complicated, many-sided women behind the confection Hollywood had made her.

Ed Feingersh studied photography under Alexey Brodovitch at the New York School of Social Research. He later worked as a photo-journalist for the Pix, Inc agency. Some of his pictures of Marilyn were published in 1955 in Redbook Magazine. Many years after Ed Feingersh died, several rolls of film were discovered revealing many of the unseen shots that appear in the exhibition.

About the Pictures

Pictures 1 & 2
Confident and assured, a sex goddess in rebellion. The following week would see Marilyn attending two major events and she is determined to take New York by storm, shaking off the shackles of the Hollywood treadmill. Marilyn casts a contemplative eye over the city from the balcony of her suite at the Ambassador Hotel. She faced the future full of optimism and a newfound sense of independence.

Pictures 3, 4 & 5
In her hotel suite Marilyn is relaxed and unselfconscious, discussing the weeks events with her agent Dick Shepherd. Ed Feingersh gives us an intimate and pensive portrait of Marilyn, capturing her charm and vulnerability. These pictures give, perhaps the closest glimpse of a Marilyn a man could feel completely at home with.

Marilyn Monroe Picture 2

'Overlooking the balcony at the Ambassador Hotel'
Picture 2

Marilyn Monroe Picture 3

'Marilyn Monroe enjoying a drink in her suite'
Picture 3