I’m usually split 50/50 in my like and dislike for public art. I like art that is historical in nature. I usually dislike art that is, well, artsy.
I knew about a piece of historical public art located in Palm Springs but I also knew that it was not permanent public art. It was only on loan for a period of time. In June, when I found out that it was scheduled to be removed in a few weeks, I rushed over to get a picture of it:
Titled “Forever Marilyn,” that statue is 26 feet tall. Heck, it’s even taller than that mountain!
The Marilyn in the title is, for those of you who don’t recognize the statue’s pose, Marilyn Monroe, and the pose is from her 1955 film, “The Seven Year Itch.” The iconic pose is one of the most recognized in the history of film, and “seven year itch” has entered the public lexicon to mean, in keeping with the film’s plot, a desire to again explore the world, so to speak, after seven years of monogamous marriage. Here is one of the original movie posters:
The statue weighs 34,000 pounds and is manufactured from stainless steel and aluminum. It was conceived by John Seward Johnson II who is known for his larger-than-life statues. In fact, Johnson’s Unconditional Surrender was located right here in San Diego for many years:
Forever Marilyn was constructed in New Jersey before being moved to Chicago and installed in Pioneer Court, part of the Magnificent Mile section of Michigan Avenue. Throughout the years, Pioneer Court has been the location of three Johnson statues: God Bless America (25 feet tall), King Lear (20 feet tall), and Forever Marilyn (26 feet tall).
In May 2012, Forever Marilyn was moved from Chicago to Palm Springs, California, and installed on the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way. Owned by The Sculpture Foundation, it was supposed to be moved to Hamilton Township, New Jersey, for a 2014 exhibit honoring John Seward Johnson II, who was born in New Jersey. Forever Marilyn will be installed at the Grounds For Sculpture, a 42-acre sculpture park and museum that was founded by Johnson in 1992.
While in Chicago, Forever Marilyn became a popular photo opportunity, much to the chagrin of some. Chicago Sun-Times critic Richard Roeper questioned the relevance of the statue to Chicago since the movie was not filmed or set in the city, and Marilyn Monroe was not connected to the city. He also criticized those taking photographs, saying, “Even worse than the sculpture itself is the photo-op behavior it’s inspiring. Men (and women) licking Marilyn’s leg, gawking up her skirt, pointing at her giant panties as they leer and laugh. It’s not that the sculpture is shocking or sexist or obscene–but it’s definitely bringing out the juvenile goofball in many of us.” So? I think it’s good to add something a little childish or juvenile to our days. Makes us laugh, and as my wise old grandmother used to say, “Laughter is good for you!”
A similar reaction occurred when Unconditional Surrender was installed in San Diego. Critics said that people would be looking up the nurse’s dress. Didn’t happen, probably because there’s nothing to see; I looked. Some people, however, did get goofy:
I’m not sure if goofiness occurred in Palm Springs. It didn’t during the hour I was there, and I suspect nothing occurred at all since, according to the latest Census data, 61% of those living in Palm Springs are 25 or older. I suspect they recognize a statue when they see it. Either no big deal or been there, done that.
If you don’t know who Marilyn Monroe is, read all about her in Wikipedia.
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