Marilyn’s Polka-Dot Parasol Twirls Again at Newbridge

A new Irish exhibition exploring sex symbols and the Playboy empire features two key artefacts related to Andre de Dienes’ iconic images of Marilyn, as Catherine Sanz reports for The Times.

Supermodels and Playboy: The Evolution of Sex Symbols, which opened yesterday at the Museum of Style Icons at Newbridge Silverware, Co Kildare, features some of the most famous women of the second half of the 20th century — clothed and unclothed.

The exhibition is a collection of items in the museum’s archive, placed together to take the visitor on a journey from Monroe, the ‘original pin-up girl’, to catwalk supermodels of the 1990s, including Christy Turlington, Heidi Klum and Cindy Crawford.

The showcase begins with the camera used by Andre de Dienes, a Hungarian photographer, to capture Monroe on a Long Island beach in 1949. Images displayed next to the camera show the actress in a bathing suit and posing with a red polka dot umbrella. The umbrella has been on permanent display at the museum.

De Dienes’s camera was discovered in storage by Simone Hassett, the museum’s curator. She said finding it was the genesis for the exhibition.

‘Occasionally while we are rummaging around in the archive room we unearth some gems,’ she said. ‘We came across the camera belonging to Andre de Dienes which photographed one of Marilyn’s most famous risqué shoots in 1949 and this started the ball rolling.’

Aileen O’Brien, publicist for the exhibition, said that the idea was to showcase how being provocative had changed. She said the images of Monroe contrasted against the more blatantly sexy 1980s and 1990s models.

‘Despite appearing innocent and almost childlike at times, Marilyn’s confidence in the photographs was striking and she commanded the viewer to look,’ she said. ‘Her bathing suit appears quite demure but it was would have been very risqué at the time.'”

Marilyn on the Tokyo Subway

Umbrellas left behind in the subway (June 1976)

‘This Marilyn Monroe poster aims to remind passengers to take their umbrellas with them when they leave the train. The text in the top right corner — ‘Kaerazaru kasa’ (umbrella of no return) — is a play on ‘Kaerazaru Kawa,’ the Japanese title for River of No Return, the 1954 movie starring Monroe.’

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