For over four decades, Milton H. Greene made his mark as one of the most celebrated photographers in the world.
Born in New York in 1922, Milton Greene began taking pictures at the early age of 14. Although he was the recipient of a scholarship to the renowned Pratt Institute, a heightened awareness of the photographic image diverted his attention to the camera and its versatility. He soon apprenticed himself to the famous photojournalist and wizard of composition, Elliot Elisofen. Before long, his keen regard for fashion and the camera found him assisting Louise Dahl-Wolfe, the distinguished fashion photographer known for her unique covers and fashion pages for Harper’s Bazaar. At the age of twenty-three, Milton was referred to as “Color Photography’s Wonder Boy.”
The majority of Milton’s work in the Fifties and Sixties appeared in major national publications including Life, Look, Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, and Vogue. In fact, Milton Greene, along with other eminent photographers such as Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn, and Norman Parkinson, is credited for bringing fashion photography into the realm of fine art.
Although Greene was initially renowned for his high-fashion photography, it is his remarkable portraits of our most beloved artists, musicians, film, television, and theatrical celebrities, which have become legendary. It was Milton’s ability as a director that enabled him to capture the qualities that best identified the subject’s persona. Thus making each of his pictures an eloquent unique statement, as he converted his remarkable vision into compelling photographic art. As an artist/photographer, Milton believed that people all wanted to look beautiful, elegant, attractive, sexy! His gifts were his flawless timing and remarkable ability to create a rapport with his many subjects. Though he was shy in person, Milton was fearless and unafraid to create intimacy between him and his subjects when he was behind a camera.
The range of Milton Greene’s subjects include such people as Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich, Sammy Davis, Jr., Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, Sophia Loren, Groucho Marx, Audrey Hepburn, Andy Warhol, Judy Garland, Giacometti, Lauren Hutton, Alfred Hitchcock, Romy Schneider, Sir Lawrence Olivier, Ava Gardner, Steve McQueen, Claudia Cardinale, Paul Newman, Lauren Bacall, Dizzy Gillespie, Catherine Deneuve and Norman Mailer, as well as countless others. But it was his unique friendship, business relationship and ensuing photographs of Marilyn Monroe for which he is most fondly remembered.
Milton first encountered Marilyn Monroe on assignment for Look Magazine, in 1953. They quickly became close friends, and in 1956 formed their own company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, which produced Bus Stop and The Prince and the Showgirl. Their relationship blossomed from an instant connection shared their first encounter to an endearing and lasting friendship, garnered by the trust they shared in one another. Before marrying Arthur Miller in June of 1956, Greene photographed Monroe in countless sessions and was able to capture some of the most beautiful photographs ever taken including the famous Black Sitting. The Marilyn Monroe collection consists of over 5,800 images, most of which have never been seen.
It was during this time that Marilyn entrusted Greene with her autobiography, simply called My Story. It is the combination of the book with the rare and vivid photographs Milton created that evoke the legendary spirit of Marilyn Monroe.
Milton also collaborated with Norman Mailer on a fictional autobiography of Marilyn Monroe, entitled Of Women and Their Elegance. Later in 1994 his eldest son, Joshua started the Milton H. Greene Archives, Inc., a company dedicated to marketing the works of his father. Joshua digitally re-mastered the first group of 300 images and released them in Milton’s Marilyn, an autobiographical book telling the intimate story of Milton and Marilyn’s relationship, partnership and friendship.
Milton’s photography won him many national and international honors, medals and awards; among them the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the Art Director’s Club of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Detroit. One of his last awards was from the Art Director’s Club of New York for his work in Harper’s Bazaar.
In recent years, Milton Greene’s photographs and prints have been exhibited
in major galleries and museums around the world, as well as represented in a multitude of private collections. Milton H. Greene’s work will continue to be regarded as representative of an era in time, which may be gone, but will always be reflected in pictures.