Marilyn Monroe | Art of Seduction

There is no name as universally synonymous with sophisticated seduction as the iconic 20th-century film star Marilyn Monroe. Featured in over thirty films during her career, Marilyn became recognized the...

There is no name as universally synonymous with sophisticated seduction as the iconic 20th-century film star Marilyn Monroe. Featured in over thirty films during her career, Marilyn became recognized the world over. Monroe’s trademark platinum blond hair earned her the moniker “The Blond Bombshell” and her compelling curves defined the ideal feminine silhouette for generations.

Marilyn Monroe photographed by Bob Henriquez
Bob Henriquez | Marilyn Monroe

What is it exactly that made Marilyn so compelling? Photographs reveal that part of her allure was a unique mix of wholesomeness and provocative charm. Marilyn was undoubtedly a breathtaking beauty but there was more than just sex in her sultry likenesses. Even in her headshots, Marilyn engages with the viewer, pulling them into the image. This intimacy allowed America to feel as if they knew Marilyn herself, a bit of the “girl next door.”

Marilyn Monroe mastered the art of seduction.

Yet, the Marilyn that the public knew and loved was in fact only a fraction of the true woman. An orphan from Los Angeles who worked her way up to movie contracts, Marilyn wanted to be much more. She was well read, and studied literature at the University of California-Los Angeles in between movie contracts. As well, Marilyn was also contemplative person and clearly aware of the image of celebrity, only rarely allowing the camera lens to see behind her façade of celebrity. One can get a peek at this Marilyn in images such as that snapped by famed photographer Richard Avedon, where we see Marilyn not vamping for the camera but rather unaware of the lens, perhaps seemingly lost in thought; a shade of despair or fatigue filtering into her face.

marilyn monroe photographed by richard avedon
Richard Avedon | Marilyn Monroe (1957)

The seductively gorgeous Marilyn died tragically in 1962 at thirty-six. It is clear from her beautiful portraits that she understood and appreciated that the art of photography. Always an actress, she had a special way of making it work for her, allowing staged photos to seem both iconic and natural, to the benefit of her celebrated stardom.

Marilyn Monroe sexy ballerina by Peter Sneyder
Peter Sneyder | Marilyn Monroe (1954)

Marilyn was a unique beauty whose fragility, sensuality, and sense of life meant she has made a lasting impression on North American culture, an icon of feminine loveliness, never to be forgotten as the sexiest woman of her generation.

AC, Chicago (2015)