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Remembering Bert Stern
Remembering Bert Stern
We’d like to take a moment to acknowledge and remember a longtime friend of ours who has passed away.
Influential commercial photographer Bert Stern died at age 83 in his Manhattan home last week. Best known for his iconic photo shoot with Marilyn Monroe, “The Last Sitting,” which took place six weeks before her death, Bert pioneered the aesthetic for much of the ’50s and ’60s in the advertising industry and continued to capture images of some the world’s most sought out celebrities for more than half a century.
A Brooklyn native, Bert got his first commercial gig out of the army working in the mailroom at Look magazine, where art director Hershel Bramson hired him as an assistant. He quickly picked up photography, turning a very early photo assignment into what one museum curator called “the most influential break with traditional advertising photography” of its time. The 1955 image of a martini glass in an Egyptian desert for Smirnoff vodka was a considerably potent expression in advertising for its time, marked by the simplicity of its composition. From there he went on to work with the world’s most famous brands and celebrities.
Bert’s approach to his work was acutely simple – “I like to put my feelings in my photographs,” he said.
His enigmatic account of that most recognized photo shoot of his with Marilyn Monroe was equally facile and maintained the air of mystery so many still find fascinating about his subject – “I didn’t say, ‘Pose nude.’ It was more one thing leading to another: You take clothes off and off and off and off and off,” Bert told Newsday. “She thought for a while. I’d say something and the pose just led to itself.”
Bert had printed with Duggal for more than 50 years and always maintained an unassuming presence, focusing entirely on his exceptionally popular prints. We even had the chance to speak with him last year.
Our most heartfelt condolences go out to Bert Stern’s loved ones. He will be greatly missed by the entire photography community, and his legacy will be remembered as his timeless work continues to influence generations of photographers and celebrities alike.