Spain’s Marilyn Archive Heads to Bendigo

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Based in Spain, Maite Minguez Ricart owns one of the world’s largest collections of Marilyn’s personal property, and has just announced that she has loaned many items to Australia’s Bendigo Art Gallery. Opening on March 5, ‘Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe‘ also features items formerly owned by Debbie Reynolds, and from the collections of Scott Fortner and Greg Schreiner, who head the Los Angeles-based fanclub, Marilyn Remembered.

“The Collection Maite Minguez Ricart has the honor to collaborate with Bendigo Art Gallery (Australia). Curator Tansy Curtin, with 41 pieces belonging to Marilyn Monroe. as dresses, designs of cinema costumes, supplements of her personal locker, awards, photographs of her personal album with handwritten annotations on the back. All of this will be showcased in a fantastic exhibition.”

Debbie Reynolds Remembers Marilyn

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Actress Debbie Reynolds, whose extraordinary collection of Hollywood costumes was auctioned in 2011, has spoken to Australia’s Herald Sun ahead of the Bendigo Art Gallery‘s tribute to Marilyn, which will include several iconic dresses worn by Marilyn before passing into Debbie’s care.

“OH, that dress. That flouncy white, pleated halter-neck billowing around Marilyn Monroe’s knees as ‘delicious’ breezes gust up from a New York subway grate … Debbie Reynolds remembers it well.

Very well. Because once upon a time, she owned that dress.

It belongs to somebody else now … but visitors to the gallery’s much-anticipated Marilyn Monroe exhibition will be dazzled by so much more.

The gold lame gown Monroe wore in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The racy cocktail dress she sported in Some Like It Hot. A brocade evening cape from her personal wardrobe. A silk blouse she had on the last time she was photographed … And Bendigo can thank Reynolds — true Hollywood royalty — for having rescued several of the objects on display.

Marilyn in her gold Travilla dress, 1953
Marilyn in her gold Travilla dress, 1953

Reynolds is especially fond of ‘Billy Travilla’s gold dress for Gentlemen… so beautiful’ and the Edwardian-style evening gown that graces The Prince and the Showgirl(1956).

‘I loved how Marilyn dressed in that movie. Beautiful silks with little stars and pearls and decorative things … I would have bought it in a second if I could.’

“There was something that Marilyn had, a quality that just stood her above everybody else,’’ she says, “but what a little girl she was …'”

The article also suggests that Reynolds was a good friend of Marilyn. While they were acquainted – Debbie is listed in Marilyn’s last address book – there seems to be little evidence of a closer relationship. Reynolds claims that they attended ‘the same lovely little church’, but Marilyn was not a regular churchgoer.

Debbie also says that she tried to contact Marilyn two days before her death, but was unable to get in touch.  ‘Nobody could,’ Reynolds adds. ‘It was an impossible task. She was surrounded by too many moats.’ In fact, Marilyn spoke to many friends and colleagues in her final days. But if Debbie had left a message, or approached Marilyn through a third party, it’s quite feasible that she didn’t hear back in time.

Whatever the truth may be, there is no doubt that Debbie Reynolds admires Marilyn greatly, and of her sadness at having to sell off her collection when her attempts to establish a museum in Hollywood went unfulfilled.

Bendigo Welcomes ‘The Marilyn You Didn’t Know’

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As Marilyn mania hits Australia, Philippa Hawker explores ‘the Monroe we didn’t know’ in an article for the Sydney Morning Herald.

Bendigo Art Gallery has a major exhibition opening in March that is devoted to her. And its discoveries come not as sweeping revelations or reversals, but in the surprise of small details and unexpected insights.

There are, as you would expect, images and film clips, musical numbers, newsreel footage, archival material, posters and publicity items. There are costumes from her movies, striking, spectacular garments that have become familiar in their own right. There are also pieces from her personal wardrobe, garments that represented another facet of the self she wished to project.

There are documents and items from the archives of Fox, the studio she is most closely associated with. There are snapshots and photos from her childhood. And there are small, everyday objects, everything from books to gossip magazines to mascara wands.

‘For me, I suppose, there is a kind of truth in these items,’ says exhibition curator Tansy Curtin. ‘When there are so many stories and falsehoods around her, what’s the truth you can glean from them?’

You won’t find material that deals with the many conspiracy theories about the nature of Monroe’s death. This isn’t something that Curtin is interested in, and many Monroe collectors won’t lend items to shows that delve into this angle.”

‘Forever Marilyn’ Lands in Australia

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Marilyn’s Australian year kicks off next week as the touring exhibit, Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon opens at the Murray Art Museum (MAMA) in Albury, New South Wales. The exhibition will feature 150 artworks and supporting programs, reports the Border Mail.

Meanwhile the arrival of Seward Johnson’s giant sculpture, ‘Forever Marilyn’, in Bendigo Park, Victoria (around 90 miles from Melbourne) heralds another upcoming exhibition, Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn, opening at Bendigo Art Gallery on March 5. You can watch a video of the installation here.

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Glynis Traill-Nash reports on both exhibits in an article for The Australian.

“The two exhibitions deal with Monroe in different ways: for Bendigo, it is about getting closer to the woman herself, and includes screen costumes, photographs, her own wardrobe items and personal effects, such as make-up and notebooks; MAMA instead opens Monroe to the gaze and interpretation of others, including images of the star created both during her lifetime and after her death, from the likes of photographers Cecil Beaton and Henri Cartier-Bresson, and artists including Andy Warhol and Richard Lindner.

The Bendigo exhibition also includes two particularly notable personal looks. ‘We have the little green Pucci blouse, which was quite understated, and was the last thing that Marilyn was photographed publicly in, so it’s quite poignant,’ says Curtin. There is also a photo of the star in a red cotton housecoat, with a pattern of chickens and roosters. ‘It’s quite ordinary, housewifey,’ says Curtin. ‘It was worn when she was about two months’ pregnant (to third husband Arthur Miller). You can see in the photo she looks quite proud, but sadly she lost the baby. But that human side of Marilyn gives us some insight that we don’t usually get to see.'”

Fox Brings Marilyn to Australia

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After recent reports that touring exhibition Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon is heading to Australia in 2016, comes news of a second, original exhibition. Marilyn Monroe, presented in association with Twentieth Century-Fox, will have its world premiere at the Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria, and includes items from the collection of Scott Fortner, such as the black cocktail dress worn by Marilyn when she accompanied Arthur Miller to an awards ceremony in 1959.

Here’s the blurb:

“Marilyn Monroe remains one of the most celebrated and enigmatic film stars in history, she transformed herself from ordinary girl next door, Norma Jeane Baker into a glamorous and universally-recognised screen goddess. This comprehensive exhibition brings together authentic artefacts, clothing and other objects belonging to Marilyn. More than 20 original film costumes from some of Marilyn’s greatest films such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire and Love Nest feature alongside numerous dresses and accessories from Marilyn’s personal wardrobe. The ground-breaking collaboration with Twentieth Century Fox will allow unprecedented access to the 12 films Marilyn completed with the studio, including glamorous studio portraits, wardrobe test photographs, lobby cards and film posters. Curated by Bendigo Art Gallery, the costumes, personal clothing and artefacts have been drawn from private collections around the world and have never been seen before in Australia.

To complement the exhibition, Bendigo Art Gallery has secured Seward Johnson’s iconic eight metre high sculpture of Marilyn Monroe, Forever Marilyn. This sculpture has been seen in Chicago and Palm Springs, USA and makes its international debut in Bendigo.”

More details in The Age:

“The gallery has worked with film studio Twentieth Century Fox to bring together items from collections around the world, including a pleated gold lame gown seen in Gentleman Prefer Blondes, costumes from films including How to Marry a Millionaire, accessories and even the star’s personal address book.

Curator Tansy Curtin has been hunting for pieces across the US and Europe, particularly some sold at a large auction of items owned by the actress Debbie Reynolds in 2012. On her wish list is a version of the famed white dress from Some Like it Hot, also designed by William Travilla. A request for a dress has been made (there are multiple versions, part of the ‘mystery and falsehoods’ surrounding Monroe’s costumes, Curtin said), and the Bendigo Art Gallery hopes to lock in its final inventory within weeks.”