Marilyn and Maf ‘Go Brooklyn’

Artist Liz Grammaticas‘s painting of Marilyn and Maf (after Eric Skipsey’s 1961 portrait) is featured in Go Brooklyn, ‘a community-curated open studio project.’

Writing for Hyperallergic, Hrag Vartanian comments, ‘Elizabeth Grammaticas‘ paintings of classic Hollywood divas and teen stars were charming and off-putting.’

Personally, I’d say ‘unsettling’ is a better adjective, as the painting shows Marilyn in a more down-to-earth, but layered way than we’re used to seeing.  It’s disarming, in a good way.

‘Looking at the Camera’ With Marilyn

“Happy Birthday Mr. President”. 10×10. Acrylic on Panel. Mixed Media

New art from Elizabeth Grammaticas:

“We know Marilyn Monroe as bright, bold, and omnipresent.   As a result, the images of Marilyn I find most interesting are the quiet illusive ones, often on poorly preserved materials.  For me with Marilyn, less is more and my most recent pieces have this in mind.”

“Look at the Camera”. Marker and Gouache on Paper. 12 x 16

Marilyn in the Blogosphere

Early fan reviews of MM-related books and film have been posted online. Artist Elizabeth Grammaticas attended last week’s premiere of My Week With Marilyn at the New York Film Festival:

” ‘My Week with Marilyn’ is the most heartfelt attempt to understand Marilyn Monroe that I’ve seen in a motion picture, despite at times the questionable credibility of the initial text. Michelle Williams doesn’t physically look all that much like Marilyn.  Marilyn is hard to physically capture,  and there are others with a greater likeness…but personality wise…Michelle finds Marilyn.  I agree with other critics that Michelle falls short of…performing Marilyn performing Marilyn (ie…in her scenes recreating ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’), but at times if you blur your eyes, catch a profile, angle, a walk or an expression you see moments of candour or pain where you feel like you are actually seeing something more real than a publicity shot of the real Marilyn Monroe with a her white dress blowing up over her head. One of my favorite parts of the film is when Michelle as Marilyn says ‘shall I be her?’ and turns the Marilyn persona on.  This is seen in the trailer of the film, but like the trailer of the original ‘Prince and the Showgirl’…this trailer doesn’t remotely depict what ‘My Week with Marilyn’ is about. The films are about basic interaction between very different people on a much more subtle level.’

Over at The Mmm Blog, Melinda Mason reviews Susan Bernard’s new book, Marilyn: Intimate Exposures:

“Intimacy (as the title suggests) is what Susan Bernard must have been striving for in this edition of her book.  As Marilyn book collectors will be aware, Susan also published a book based on her father’s photos and journal entries called ‘Bernard of Hollywood’s Marilyn’ in 1993.  While some photos are the same and many journal entries are identical, that is where the similarities end.  ‘Marilyn: Intimate Exposures’ is a far superior book.  It even includes a beautiful photographic print from ‘The Seven Year Itch’ in an envelope at the back so you can frame it.”

And on Goodreads, David Marshall (author of The DD Group and Life Among the Cannibals) reviews Bye Bye, Baby, a novel about Marilyn’s death by crime writer Max Allan Collins.

‘But when a historical figure is suddenly no more, (and make no mistake about it, Marilyn Monroe is a historical figure), attention should be paid. All angles concerning their passing should be looked at carefully. All research should be scrutinized. All opinions should be considered. And that should not be restricted to non-fiction attempts at understanding the incomprehensible. Fiction can be a powerful tool and this includes the fun reads. Future generations may come across Bye Bye, Baby and even if they understand the work is “just” a novel, there’s plenty here to get you thinking and rethinking, and, hopefully, that will lead them on to other books on the subject. That, as far as I am concerned, is one of the greatest services of fiction—it makes you think. And Collins more than does his share in that regard.’

The Art of Marilyn in Crete

Painter and ES member Elizabeth Grammaticas visited the ‘Marilyn Monroe in the Arts’ exhibition in Crete last week, and has shared her thoughts (and photos) with us.

I have posted a small selection, but you can see many more over at the ES forum.

‘I attended the “Marilyn Monroe in the Arts” Exhibition at DEKK Exhibition Center in Crete a few days ago, and was pleasantly surprised with the exhibition. The exhibition is up until 10/30 if anyone happens to be in Crete in the time (*does ‘happening’ to be in Crete actually happen? I lucked out and was on vacation with my dad there and saw the signs).

It was a larger exhibition than I expected, as well as intelligently done. Here’s some more pics of my favorites.’

‘1)This first piece is my favorite. It’s “Changing the Story of MM”. It contains four panels of Marilyn’s image being digitally altered. First is one of the famous Kelley nudes, with Marilyn Pregnant. Then a Bert Stern with a woman covering her up. Marilyn surrounded by a large asian family..and finally…another nude female with Marilyn in the “Something’s Got to Give” pool scene. I think this piece hit the nail on the head with so much of what we see with Marilyn’s story being constantly retold and reimagined based on the story teller.’

‘2) I liked these silhouette type images of Marilyn as well. I love how the icon is so clearly recognizable without the need for an image of the person to actually be there. (my camera didn’t get the photo well enough to see the artist.)’

‘3)I love that they had these Rizzo photos!

Each section of the exhibition had large signs elaborating on her life, image, and impact. I have the exhibition book which contains most of the exhibition, and then some.’

‘The videos in the exhibition were a good variety. Before you go into the exhibition, there is a projection of Marilyn’s performance at the JFK Gala. In the “White dress” section, they had a Sam Shaw interview playing. Another part of the exhibition had chairs to sit down and watch various Marilyn movie trailers.’

‘They also had two video pieces, one titled “No,No,No!”. It was mostly “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” footage, but without Marilyn in it. You hear the audio track looped of Marilyn singing the pre-diamonds intro of”!”, and see various men and people surrounding her, except Marilyn is cut out. So you just see the crowds of people demanding her attention, and her going ‘no no no nono’. It was a bit eerie walking in the exhibtion with all these images and manipulations of Marilyn’s image and hearing her voice going “No no nono!”.

They had another video looped of the paddle scene in “The Misfits” with one video on top with the paddle, the other with the zoom shot of her rear bouncing back and forth.

In addition to these videos, they also had slide shows of Marilyn magazine covers, celebrities impersonating Marilyn, and Marilyn photos not in the exhibition.

Most of the art is from Europe, and most of it is from a few collections in Vienna and Germany.’

‘Bad Taste – On Such a Large Scale’

A 26 ft statue by sculptor Seward Johnson depicting Marilyn’s ‘upskirt’ pose in The Seven Year Itch has been unveiled this week on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, the ‘Magnificent Mile’. Commissioned by Zeller Realty Group, the sculpture will remain there until May 2012.

To me, the statue’s face looks more like Rue McClanahan, aka Blanche from Golden Girls, than MM in her prime. There’s no denying its power of spectacle – but does such a literal, if magnified, recreation of an endlessly reproduced image really deserve the mantle of ‘art that makes people think’?

‘In Pioneer Court Friday morning, pre-teen girls, adolescent boys and older folks (mostly men but plenty of women) took turns standing between her ankles or leaning against one of her Big Boy-sized feet,’ the Chicago Tribune reports. ‘While the cameras clicked and whirred, pedestrians of all ages gazed directly up at one of cinema’s most famous undergarments, writ XXLarge.’

‘Iconic images end up, like other recyclables, empty,’ writes a sceptical Eric Felten in the Wall Street Journal. ‘Is the halter-dressed Marilyn supposed to signify anything? Perhaps she is meant to be an emblem of carefree sexuality. If so, it’s a message rather at odds with the unpleasant circumstances of the image’s creation. When director Billy Wilder shot that scene one night in 1954 at Lexington Avenue and 52nd Street, a thousand Manhattan gawkers stood around leering at Ms. Monroe’s unmentionables. Her husband at the time, Joe DiMaggio, was there, seething. His rage led Ms. Monroe to end their marriage.’

‘Monroe is presented as an object for male consumption (though females may certainly participate), as a transitory moment is creepily frozen in time,’ writes Abraham Ritchie at Chicago Now.  ‘The eroticism of the actual scene in the movie is drained out as the moment lasts eternally…Sadly, the reduction of Monroe to a mere sexual object is exactly what may have contributed to her suicide.  (Seward) Johnson seems not to realize this.’

Personally, I agree with the Tribune‘s verdict that ‘Forever Marilyn’ is ‘bad taste – on such a large scale’. And of course, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that.

But I would love to see more original, challenging art inspired by Marilyn – for example, the work of Elizabeth Grammaticas, Mary Ann Lynch, and Neal Turner – in the public arena.

‘Meeting Marilyn Monroe’

“Even in death, the woman creates a deeper, and more powerful experience than one would expect.  I am glad, touch, honored, and inspired to have ‘met’ Marilyn….someone I have not only never met,  I have never lived in our lifetime…yet…..there is something to be said for visiting the grave of someone we have never met.  Like any other grave the person is no longer with us, but unlike a grave of someone familiar…we have an entire culture and history to figure out who this person was instead of a limited history via family and direct interaction.  Sometimes…..we just need to visit someone we never knew to feel thankful for our own existences, and the impact they left behind.  It was a pleasure, and privilege to have ‘met’ you Marilyn.”

Elizabeth Grammaticas writes about her recent trip to Hollywood, where she visited Marilyn’s grave.