Object Lesson

Marilyn Monroe photographed by Richard Avedon

ITEM A 20- by 16-inch gelatin silver print of Marilyn Monroe, photographed in New York City by Richard Avedon on May 6, 1957. One of an edition of 50 "contemporary prints" Avedon made from the negative in 1980 (as distinct from the 40 or so "vintage prints" he made within a few years of taking the portrait), the signed, numbered, and dated work is for sale at Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco.

HISTORY This print, in pristine condition, hasbeen in Avedon's possession since it was made. The image itself has appeared in three of his books, Nothing Personal (1964), Portraits (1976), and An Autobiography (1993); was shown at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 1970 and Manhattan's Marlborough Gallery in 1975; and will be part of the Avedon's Portraits exhibit at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art from September 26 through January 5, 2003.

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS "There are lots of pictures of Marilyn in the world," says Fraenkel Gallery director Frish Brandt, "but this is the only one I know of that has caught her with this introspective, vulnerable expression." The iconic image of Monroe is, of course, as glamour girl or vamp, but here, Brandt says, "Avedon portrayed Marilyn between the familiar moments."

PRICE $16,000. (Another print from the same edition sold at auction at Christie's in London in 1997 for approximately $14,000.)

Fraenkel Gallery, 49 Geary St., San Francisco; 415-981-2661; www.fraenkelgallery.com.