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ANDRE DE DIENES (1913 – 1985)


Andre (Andor Ikafalvi) de Dienes was born in 1913 in Turia, Transylvania (now Romania). Following his mother's suicide, he left home at age 14 and made his way to Budapest in an effort to rejoin his estranged father. Unable to establish a lasting relationship, de Dienes began working in a fabric store. It was in Budapest where de Dienes was exposed to the arts, culture, and women. At age 18, de Dienes left Budapest and traveled throughout Europe, mostly by foot, before ending up in Tunisia, North Africa, where he worked odd jobs, learned to paint, and purchased his first camera, a 35mm Retina.

In 1933 de Dienes arrived in Paris to study art and bought his first Rolleiflex camera. Fascinated with taking pictures, he made a living selling photographs to publishing companies, including Lb Humanite (a Communist newspaper), and worked for The Associated Press until 1936 when famous Parisian couturier Captain Edward Molyneux encouraged de Dienes to become a fashion photographer. In addition to the many fashion assignments from Molyneux, de Dienes created thousands of portraits and street images in Paris, and all over France, from 1935 to 1938. Very few of these images have survived, however, de Dienes continued capturing a wide range of subjects throughout his career.

In 1938, with the help of Esquire magazine editor Arnold Gingrich, he immigrated to the United States and settled in New York to work for Esquire, VOGUE, LIFE, and Montgomery Ward. Committed to having time for personal image making, de Dienes captured many street portraits of African American communities in Harlem, as well as photographing African American field workers in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia. De Dienes spent his vacations traveling around North America, taking pictures of the scenic grandeur of the western United States and its natives, especially the Hopi, Navajo, and Apache Indians. 

Dissatisfied with the restrictions of editorial photography, de Dienes moved to Hollywood in 1944 to pursue his real passion of photographing nudes and outdoor scenes.  To support himself he freelanced for the film studios and photographed many stars including Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Henry Fonda, Shirley Temple, Fred Astaire, Ingrid Bergman, Ronald Reagan, Jane Russell, and Anita Ekberg, and rapidly became known as one of the top glamour photographers. Articles documenting his pioneering darkroom techniques in photomontage appeared in U.S. Camera, Figure Quarterly, Figure Annual, Classic Art Photography, and many more publications. 

Andre De Dienes' association with Marilyn Monroe began in 1945 when he hired her for her first modeling job at age 19. A five-week road trip photographing the young Norma Jeane across California, Nevada, and New Mexico resulted in a love affair and numerous magazine covers around the world. Their working relationship continued until 1953. 

Andre de Dienes died in 1985. 

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