De Kooning’s Marilyn at the Smithsonian

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Eight years before Andy Warhol, the Dutch-born American painter, Willem de Kooning was perhaps the first great artist to immortalise Marilyn. His 1954 expressionist work is featured in a new exhibition, Face Value: Portraiture In the Age of Abstraction, opening at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC tomorrow (April 15) through to next January, reports the Times Colonist.

During the summer of 1957, De Kooning was a neighbour of Marilyn and Arthur Miller in Amagansett, New York. “Totally abstract, Marilyn looks like a cross between a grinning child and a screaming fury, not like the soft and gentle Marilyn,” Lois Banner wrote in Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox (2012.) “Yet he captured part of her essence – childlike, but angry when crossed. The portrait was hung in the Museum of Modern Art, and it produced a stir. Arthur detested it, but Marilyn didn’t mind: she thought artists had the right to their own vision of the subject they painted. It led to the many pop art portraits of her.”

Marilyn in Art: Seen and Unseen

‘Seen/Unseen’ : self-portrait with Marilyn, by Mary Ann Lynch

Artist and photographer Mary Ann Lynch, whose ‘Forever Marilyn‘ project featured sightings of Monroe’s image across the globe, has now created a self-portrait – with eyes closed, holding a newspaper article featuring make-up man Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder’s personal snapshots of Marilyn during filming of Niagara in 1952 – for her ‘Seen/Unseen’ series.

“Well. I have this series ‘Seen/Unseen: Artists & Their Work’ for which I ask people to close their eyes. . .I find them in a gallery or public place, never have an appointment. . .and a few have said, ‘So where’s your photograph of YOU?’ So I made this self-portrait, with Marilyn Monroe, who is the subject of another longtime project, Forever Marilyn–more of that on my website. . .”