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"Lawrence Schiller: A Splash of Marilyn" opens at Galerie Melilli Mancinetti in Berlin
Lawrence Schiller, Marilyn Monroe, Something's Got To Give, May 23, 1962. © Lawrence Schiller, courtesy Galerie Melilli Mancinetti.

BERLIN.- Galerie Melilli Mancinetti, Berlin’s newest gallery for contemporary photography and art, opened with a solo show by legendary New York photographer Lawrence Schiller. Under the title A Splash of Marilyn, the exhibition grants a photograph look behind the scenes and during the making of the last movie with Marilyn Monroe, Something’s Got to Give.

Just months before her death, the actress gave the young photographer Schiller his big break, and this is his story: “You’re already famous; now you’re going to make me famous,” the photographer said to Marilyn Monroe as they discussed the photos he was about to take of her. “Don’t be so cocky,” Marilyn replied, “photographers can be easily replaced.” The year was 1962, and the 25-year-old Schiller was on assignment for Paris Match magazine. He already knew Marilyn – they had met on the set of Let’s Make Love – but nothing could have prepared him for the day she appeared nude during a swimming pool scene.

With around 30 b/w and color photographs, the exhibition A Splash of Marilyn tells the intimate story of a legend before her fall and a young photographer on his way to the top. Schiller’s original, extraordinary photographs take us back to that time, and to the surprising connection that allowed Marilyn to bond with a kid from Brooklyn, a kid with a lot of ambition but very little experience. Now, 50 years later, this series still reflects the glamour and beauty of Monroe, the freshness of the moments Schiller and she shared, and the uniqueness of their encounter.

Born in Brooklyn in 1936, Lawrence Schiller’s work began in junior high school in San Diego, California, when he received his first camera. Though a childhood accident left him with impaired vision in one eye, he became an obsessive photographer. Even as a student at Pepperdine College he saw his pictures published in LIFE, Sport, Playboy, Glamour, and the Saturday Evening Post. Schiller’s interests and ambitions soon developed into a profession in print journalism, documenting major stories for glossy magazines all over the world, including LIFE, Look, Newsweek, Time, Paris Match, Stern, and the London Sunday Times. His iconic images of Robert F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Bette Davis, Barbra Streisand, Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali, among others, are tributes to his doggedness, ingenuity, and charm as well as to his technical proficiency. In November 1963, while on assignment for the Saturday Evening Post, he reached Dallas in time to photograph Lee Harvey Oswald.

Schiller moved into motion pictures by directing a portion of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) with Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and also directed the Oscar-winning documentary The Man Who Skied Down Everest (1972) and The American Dreamer (1971), a film on Dennis Hopper. Perhaps nothing in Schiller’s career proved more remarkable, though, than his collaboration with Norman Mailer – a friendship unique in American literary history. For nearly 35 years the two worked closely together, on books including Marilyn (1973), The Faith of Graffiti (1974), Oswald’s Tale (1995), Into the Mirror (2002), and The Executioner’s Song (1979), for which Mailer won the Pulitzer Prize. Following the death of Norman Mailer in 2007, Schiller was named senior advisor to the Mailer estate, and is president and co founder of the Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He has been a consultant to NBC News and the Annie Leibovitz Studios and has written for The New Yorker, The Daily Beast, and other publications. He has five children and five grandchildren, and lives in New York and Los Angeles.

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