On the eve of the UK general election, a stencil painting of Prime Minister Theresa May wearing her favourite leopard-skin stilettos, in a recreation of Marilyn’s ‘subway scene’ from The Seven Year Itch (originally photographed by Sam Shaw) signed by street artist ‘Loretto’, has appeared in London’s West End, reports Fitzrovia News.
The merging of Marilyn, an icon of youth and beauty, with a right-wing politician is either comical or grotesque, depending on your perspective. However, comparisons of this kind are nothing new, especially in the art world. Photographer Philippe Halsman started the trend with ‘Marilyn Mao‘, blending his own 1952 portrait of MM – her first Life magazine cover – with the head and shoulders of the Chinese premier, Mao Tse-tung.
Perhaps it’s the rumoured affair with President Kennedy that triggered this strange phenomenon, or just that Marilyn’s own cultural reach rivals that of our world leaders. For me, these images evoke the contrast between her radiant humanity, and the dangerous aura of those who wield power.
This collage by David Mach – using the iconic British army recruitment posters from World War I, featuring Lord Kitchener, to make an image of MM – will be auctioned at Lyon and Turnbull, Edinburgh, on April 25. Estimated price: £4,000-£6,000.
“The image of Marilyn Monroe, made from conscription leaflets, is another which demonstrates how he plays with mundane materials to make completely different images,” picture expert Charlotte Riordan tells the Daily Record.
Another collage on the artist’s website uses pictures of Mao Tse Tung to recreate an image of Marilyn. It is not the first time that these two very different icons have been combined in art. Perhaps David Mach is highlighting the contrast between an icon who symbolises power, and another who symbolises glamour.
This 2007 oil on canvas painting of Marilyn, by Korean artist Kim Dong Yoo – comprised of multiple miniature portraits of her rumoured lover, John F. Kennedy – features in a live auction on Art.net, due to end on March 14.
The artist has previously unveiled several other paintings on the same theme, including a portrait of Mao Tse Tung comprised of multiple Marilyns.
Interesting work (and commentary) from artist Sherry Mills:
‘You’ll notice Marilyn Monroe making several appearances in this work. Apart from my natural inclination to select the most popular sex symbol in the Western mind to speak to Mao’s sexual prowess, The Adventures of Mao contains a supposed interview with Chairman Mao in 1968, in which he is reported to have said the following: “Marilyn is the feminine Mao; she is, dialectically speaking, the victim, the exploited, that what-would-have-been Mao had he lived in the United States and been a beautiful woman. Mao/Marilyn would be an interesting person, I think.”’