Every August brings with it a slew of magazine articles about Marilyn’s death. This inset appears on the cover of Italy’s OGGI (‘Today’), which has featured Marilyn many times over the years.
The ‘décollage’ artist who drew upon torn posters of Marilyn is the subject of a new book, Mimmo Rotella: Manifesto, as Christian House reports for the Telegraph. (FYI, the book’s text is in Italian.)
“In 1954, the Calabrian artist Mimmo Rotella moved to Rome, and discovered his muse in the city’s post-war, pockmarked streets. ‘One evening, as I was leaving my studio, I was attracted to the colours and the boldness of the torn posters that were hanging from the walls,’ he recalled. ‘They were living things that stirred strong emotions in me.’
Rotella began to roam the capital, tearing down sheets of paper heralding the talents of Marilyn Monroe, ministers and circus acts. Passers by were aghast …. At his atelier near Piazza del Popolo, the fragments of posters were glued, layer upon layer, on to canvas, before being ripped, torn and scraped to create ‘new, unpredictable forms.’
Rotella’s arrival in Rome coincided with the golden age of Italian posters. This was the era of Cinecittà (the studio nicknamed ‘Hollywood on the Tiber’), an influx of American tourists and Italy’s ‘economic miracle’. Rotella would come to see his compositions as metaphors for the fluctuating fortunes of his country.
Rotella called his own art of erosion ‘décollage’ – the opposite of collage. When he tired of layering ephemera, he turned the posters around to show their plaster-flaked, mouldy versos. ‘I liked material subjected to bad weather, I liked being able to take it as it was and showing it. It was a theft of reality,’ he said.
Since his death in 2006, this rootless interrogator of consumer culture has become a high-end brand himself … There is a nostalgic pleasure for film buffs and europhiles – the Cinema Paradiso effect – to be had from all the torn glimpses of starlets and matinee idols.”
Another new exhibition, Merry Marilyn: Natural Elegance, Magical Charm, is now on display at the National Cinema Museum in Turin, Italy until January 28, 2019. Shoes and other Marilyn-related items from the Salvatore Ferragamo collection are featured alongside film clips and vintage magazines, with a festive vibe befitting the season. Nine of Marilyn’s films will also be screened, including Niagara and Some Like It Hot.
Thanks to Rick at Marilyn Remembered
“She was ‘somewhere between Chaplin and James Dean’, according to François Truffaut, to underline the talent and instinct, physicality and sensibility of an actress whose image was based not only on the absolute beauty of a seductive woman, but also on the complex personality of an actress who challenged conventions and imposed a new model. Diva of modernity, feminist in her own way, Norma Jeane Mortenson Baker, aka Marilyn Monroe, helped to dictate the new rules of the Star System, anticipating the revolutions and social changes that in a few years would have transformed Hollywood.
It is no coincidence that Edgar Morin calls her ‘the last star of the past and the first without Star System’, which she attempted to rebel against to avoid the commodification of her own image. Capricious and humorous, but able to amaze directors like Henry Hathaway and Billy Wilder with her talent, Marilyn has been proclaimed by the American Film Institute the sixth greatest actress in the history of cinema.
An inexhaustible source of inspiration for artists and scholars: from the drama After the Fall (1964) in which the playwright Arthur Miller , her ex-husband, reflects in the balance between cynicism and guilt over the diva’s suicide, in the pages of Truman Capote in Music for Chameleons (1975), from the portrait of Andy Warhol who transforms Marilyn into a pop icon; to the recent Blonde novel by Joyce Carol Oates, who describes her as a ‘beautiful child’ with a thousand insecurities.
At the glow of celluloid of the great Hollywood diva, they finally act as a counterpoint to Elton John with Candle in the Wind and Pier Paolo Pasolini, who calls her ‘little sister’, asking: ‘It is possible that Marilyn, the little Marilyn, has shown us the road?’, in a poem that – not surprisingly – is one of the most moving moments of his film La Rabbia, released in 1963, a year after her controversial suicide.”
With the festive season fast approaching, here’s a selection of the best Marilyn calendars (and diaries) for 2019. First of all, here’s a bumper edition of high-quality images from Hugo et Compagnie…
Another calendar and diary, from Italy:
This US calendar is officially licensed and approved by Marilyn’s estate.
Marilyn is also featured (with Arthur Miller) in this German literary calendar from Anfang & Aufbruch…
Come Il Volo Di Un Colibri, a novel by Italian author and politician Giovanna Grignaffini, was published in 2016. The title translates as Like The Flight Of A Hummingbird, which is how Marilyn’s acting teacher, Constance Collier, described her elusive presence; and Eve Arnold’s photo of Marilyn on the set of The Misfits graces the cover. The novel – currently only available in Italian – is set in a house in the woods, where five people come together to discuss Marilyn’s mythic life. Lea Melandri reviewed it for Il Manifesto.
“To remain there, forever hanging on those walls and mirrors, copied and glued to all those books, paintings, backpacks, ‘it took genius,’ is the conclusion of the author: ‘pure feminine genius.’ If Marilyn had had the doubt of being ‘just a fantasy’ – I guess I am a fantasy – the novel of a singular essayist of cinema and writer like Giovanna Grignaffini, who for years has studied and loved her through her films, it returns it to the collective memory, ‘finally’ as the whole body of a woman: inseparable life and cinema.”
Thanks to Marilyn Monroe: Italia
M, a Finnish horror film inspired by Marilyn and starring pop star Anna Eriksson, is heading to the Venice Film Festival this year, where it has been described as the most experimental film in the line-up, as Nancy Tartaglione reports for Deadline. Finnish news sources indicate that Eriksson became interested in Marilyn after reading Sarah Churchwell’s feminist ‘meta-biography’,The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe – a good place to start – and her film explores the objectification of women. (M was also the title of Fritz Lang’s classic 1931 film, starring Peter Lorre as a child-killer.)
Eriksson discussed her inspiration in a recent Facebook post:
“Even though Marilyn Monroe was my inspiration for the film, in the end M turned out to be a deeply personal work. Somewhere along the way I realized that the link between sexuality and death, that to me so profoundly defines Monroe’s fate, is a link that we all share with her. That the ancient bond between these two forces is in fact an integral part of humanity. And that the myth that is Marilyn, holds in itself a reflection of our own dreams, our desires and our losses.”
Thanks to Merja Pohjola
The Last Tapes of Marilyn Monroe, a new play starring Italian actress Marianna Esposito, was staged in Milan last Saturday. While Marilyn’s alleged stream-of-consciousness tapes for Dr Ralph Greenson have never materialised, and detective John Miner’s self-proclaimed transcription is also highly questionable, the play – written and directed by Guilio Federico Janni – has nonetheless been praised by diehard fans, including Gianandrea Colombo who posted his review on the Marilyn Monroe – Italia Facebook group.
“A well-written and sincere monologue, which ‘undressed’ Marilyn from the clichés of stupidity and frivolousness. Among ‘educated’ quotations – from Shakespeare to Joyce – Marianna Esposito cried and smiled, retracing the last hours of Marilyn through the ‘relationship’ with her therapist. Being in the front row, I was able to enjoy the skill of this actress whose strong point is a mime and intense expressiveness, the ability to pass from languid glances to inconsolable crying, to stage the same effervescence of the glass of sparkling wine that her Marilyn sips during the show, telling of life, love and cinema. Marianna Esposito crosses the border between actor and spectator with firmness, direct looks and a physicality exhibited without hesitation. A minimal setting, soft lighting and the magic of a play written and certainly acted ‘from the heart’, elevates the soul of the woman behind the mask of the myth.”
Designer Jeremy Scott has always been fascinated by pop culture. In his fall 2018 ready-to-wear collection for Moschino, unveiled yesterday at Milan Fashion Week, he draws on the many myths about Marilyn and the Kennedys, adding his own farcical spin that Jackie Kennedy was really an alien, and the killer of both Marilyn and JFK. It’s fun to imagine what Marilyn would have worn in the 1960s – she was very fond of Pucci – and Scott’s designs are a sort of postmodern blend of the Space Age and Pop Art. In terms of his Marilyn-esque designs (as modelled here by Bella Hadid), I think the evening gowns work best. But although the concept is meant to be humorous, I do wish Scott had bypassed these tired old tropes which tend to turn Marilyn into what she most feared becoming (a joke.)
A month-long retrospective dedicated to Hollywood’s greatest blonde icons – Marilyn and Marlene Dietrich – is now in progress at MIC: The Interactive Cinema Museum in Milan, Italy. Still to come are The Seven Year Itch (August 6); There’s No Business Like Show Business (August 9); Let’s Make Love (August 10); Bus Stop (August 12); Niagara (August 13); Don’t Bother to Knock (August 16); How to Marry a Millionaire (August 19); Bert Stern: Original Madman (August 20); Monkey Business (August 23); Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days (August 24); Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (August 26); and Some Like It Hot (August 27.)
More than 300 items of Marilyn’s personal property, including costumes, letters, and her David di Donatello award for The Prince and the Showgirl, are featured in ‘Unmissable Marilyn’, an exhibition curated with the guidance of collector Ted Stampfer, at the Palazzo Degli Esami in Rome until July 30. More details here.