Peter Goddard has reviewed ‘Life as a Legend’ and ‘Marilyn in Canada’, both now showing at Toronto’s The McMichael.
‘Norma Jeane Baker was naked, not yet “a nude,” in posing for Kelley. Her pale arms are outstretched behind her head, thrusting out her breasts. Elsewhere her arms are reaching up and above her head to elongate her languid body shape. Her face suggests a post-coital glow. Her ruby red lips are parted ever so slightly, as are her brilliantly white teeth, to suggest the pleasure she feels, not the pleasure she was determined to elicit in the viewer’s gaze.
This was Norma Jeane on the cusp of developing the Monroe look, the chilly hauteur killer stare the actress brought to each studio-sanctioned headshot, her eyes looking zoned out, her hair off her forehead except for a well-placed curl. (Only Mel Ramos, king of the pin-up drawings, ever imagined Monroe as happy.)
My uncertainty about the enormity of raw anger in this look, found everywhere in the show, led me to contact Natalka Husar, the talented Toronto painter and art teacher whose own work has led to her portraying rebellious and often fierce young women.
“MM as a mask of anger makes me think of de Kooning’s women, ferocious yet bombshells,” Husar replied in an email. Monroe’s red lips, “usually open and supposedly a come-on, really seem to be saying f-off. There’s attitude masking a pain.” ‘
Read this article in full at the Toronto Star
Marilyn visited Canada at least three times: as 18 year-old Norma Jeane Dougherty, in 1944; and while filming two of her movies, Niagara (1952) and River of No Return (made in 1953, released ’54.)
In February 2011, the touring Marilyn Monroe: Life as a Legend exhibit arrives in Ontario. The McMichael Canadian Art Collection are also curating ‘Marilyn in Canada’, featuring photos by John Vachon and George S. Zimbel (taken in New York City during filming of The Seven Year Itch), as well as contemporary Canadian art inspired by Marilyn.
During the long ‘Family Weekend’ of February 19-21, the exhibition opens with guided tours, films and music along with special programming every day based on these shows.
I hope that photographer Jock Carroll, whose book, Falling for Marilyn, chronicled her time in Niagara, will also be featured.
Over 300 photographs and artworks in this touring exhibition, coming to the Warhol Museum, opening for 24 hours from 10 am, October 23, and continuing until January 2, 2011. A Monroe film series begins on November 12.