Eve Arnold’s photographs of the twentieth century have so seared themselves into our collective unconscious that they have become the lens through which we understand much of that recent past. To be a documentary photographer is to record the world. An event that has been photographed instantly becomes more real than it would have been without being caught on camera. When her shutter clicked down on Marilyn Monroe, Malcolm X, Jackie O, Joan Crawford or Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor sitting in a pub during the filming of Becket nursing a couple of pints and a packet of pork sausages they were about to cook for dinner, Eve Arnold sealed them forever within those transient moments like flies encased in amber. Photography, as Susan Sontag writes, is ‘an elegiac art, a twilight art’. The subject in front of the camera is touched with pathos because we know when we look at the resulting print that that particular instance has already passed and can never be regained. Like Marcel Proust dipping his madeleine into a spoonful of lime-blossom tea, the photograph acts as a catalyst that returns us to a lost past which, in retrospect, so often seems gilded. All photographs are, therefore, a kind of memento mori. The images that remain linger like ghosts, giving their subjects a kind of immortality. By freezing a particular event, the photographer lays down evidence through which we try, like an archaeologist brushing the dust off a bowl, to make sense of history.
We are very proud to have worked with Eve Arnold, one of the world’s truly great photographers. As a tribute to Eve Arnold we will be exhibiting the full collection of limited edition Marilyn Monroe photographs including the famous scenes from the set of The Misfits.