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George Barris (American, 1928-2016)

Photography

Birth Place: Los Angeles, CA, USA

Biography:

Who was photographer George Barris?

George Barris was a 20th century portrait photographer best known for his photographs of Marilyn Monroe. While he would be infamous for shooting Monroe’s last photos before her untimely death, Barris’ career was for decades defined by his access to Hollywood stars. He worked for Parade magazine and took many photographs for non-fiction books, perhaps most famously one about a young nun and her daily life in a convent.

Barris didn’t just photograph movie stars, he also employed them. Famously, he hired the actor Steve Mcqueen (pre-fame) as an assistant in Florida but quickly encouraged the young man to go back to New York to pursue his acting career. Some of Barris’s most famous subjects included Marlon Brando, Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra, and a young Sophia Loren. He also shot documentary photographs during the production of the ill-fated film, Cleopatra in 1963. 

What kind of art does George Barris make?

George Barris shot portraits of celebrities as well as documentary photographs for many major magazines. He is best known for his work with Marilyn Monroe, including her last photoshoot before her death. He was known for showing the softer side of celebrity, in her article about the Gloria Steinem penned Monroe biography, Diana Trilling wrote that “Mr. Barris took many soft, gentle pictures of her, in bathing suit, towels, beach robe, sweater. But this project too was not completed.” Barris would continue to be asked about Monroe right up until his death. In those interviews, he was always sympathetic, articulate, and emotive -- just like his photographs.

How did photographer George Barris get started?

The youngest of nine children, George Barris grew up in Manhatten. While his parents never had much money, Geroge was given a box camera when he was six years old by his older brother. Barris served in the army during World War II as a photographer. His best-known image from this time comes from an assignment to shoot General Eisenhower’s victory parade. After the war, he became a photographer for the weekly magazine, Parade. He spent the next few decades shooting Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Monroe. 

How much are George Barris’s photographs worth?

George Barris’ pieces can be worth thousands of dollars. A large print of his photograph, All Smiles (1962) is currently on sale for $2,700 on his website. It is from the last photoshoot that Monroe ever sat for, on a Santa Monica beach in 1962. For original prints and other Barris work, this number could go much higher. Any prospective collectors would be wise to look hard for a Barris print if one becomes available at auction. 

Where to buy George Barris photos for sale?

See works for sale below. Why buy from Heritage? Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easier to help you expand your art collection.

How to value George Barris pieces?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services department.


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George Barris Original Art values sold at auction

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