The “Forever Marilyn” Statue in Palm SpringsMay 30th, 2012 | By Lindsay | Category: Marilyn Monroe Locations, This and That
Back in December the Grim Cheaper’s boss, while on vacation in Chicago, spotted a huge statue of my girl Miss Marilyn Monroe towering above the Michigan Avenue skyline and texted me a picture of it. Well, as you can imagine, I just about lost my mind upon seeing the looming bronze effigy and told the GC that we had to get out to the Windy City as soon as possible to stalk it. As it turns out, though, Marilyn ended up coming to me! A few months after learning of the installation, which is named “Forever Marilyn”, fellow stalker Lavonna informed me that it was actually being relocated to the West Coast – to the corner of Tahquitz Canyon Way and Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs to be exact! So I immediately called up my parents, who live in the Coachella Valley, and told them to keep me abreast of the bombshell’s status so that I could stalk it as soon it was installed, which, thankfully, did not take long. “Forever Marilyn” was finally unveiled last Thursday evening and I dragged the GC right on out to the desert to see it the very next day.
“Forever Marilyn” was originally constructed in 1996 by American-realist sculptor Seward Johnson as part of his ICONS REVISTED series. The design was based upon the famous 1954 photograph of the starlet taken by Bruno Bernard, aka Bernard of Hollywood, during the filming of The Seven Year Itch’s iconic subway grate scene (the location of which I blogged about way back in June 2008). The statue did not make its debut until 15 years after its inception, though, when, on July 15th, 2011, it was unveiled as a temporary installation in the middle of Chicago’s Pioneer Court. Of the work, the now 82-year-old Seward states, “In this series, ICONS REVISTED, I am trying to discover what makes an image stay with us; become something more than its one moment in time. Marilyn has come to represent beauty, and the white dress blowing up around her is a type of teasing sensuality. There is something about her pose: the exuberance for life without inhibition, which is quintessentially American. It expresses an uninhibited sense of our own vibrancy.” Because The Seven Year Itch was the first MM movie that I ever saw, the image of the starlet trying to hold down her billowing dress has always been one that I’ve held extremely close to my heart. As photographer Mark Anderson asked in the October 2008 issue of Vanity Fair, “Who ever forgets the first time they saw Marilyn Monroe?” So true!
“Forever Marilyn”, which was constructed entirely out of bronze and stainless steel, measures 26 feet tall, 17 feet wide and weighs a whopping 34,300 pounds. It is owned by The Sculpture Foundation, Inc., an educational organization that provides public exhibitions and works of art to various communities around the globe.
Earlier this year, it was decided that the Coachella Valley would be “Forever Marilyn’s” next temporary stop and, on May 7th, a crew of six dedicated men began the dismantling process before the blonde bombshell embarked upon the long journey to her new home. (You can check out some fabulous photographs of her cross-country drive here.) Of the move, Seward said, “I am very pleased that Marilyn will be on view in Palm Springs. It was, after all, a location of her own choosing, and I assume she was drawn to the beauty and stillness of the landscape.”
As you can see here, the positioning of “Forever Marilyn” in relation to the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago was quite deceiving and made the statue appear to be much taller than it actually is. As the GC and I made our way down South Palm Canyon Drive towards the sculpture last Friday afternoon, I kept expecting to see it towering over the short one- and two-story buildings that make up Palm Springs. When we finally did come upon the icon, I was quite shocked as she is much shorter than her Chicago surroundings made her appear. Don’t get me wrong, “Forever Marilyn” is HUGE, just not as huge as I had originally anticipated.
“Forever Marilyn” is honestly one of the coolest works of art that I have ever seen in my entire life and I was literally pinching myself the whole time I was stalking it. I have a feeling that I will be making regular pilgrimages to see it when visiting my parents in the desert over the next year.
I am absolutely IN LOVE with the photograph below that the GC took of “Forever Marilyn”. I think it is can’t-take-my-eyes-off-it stunning and if we had any blank wall space left in our apartment, I would so have it blown up and framed.
I would be remiss in my blogging duties if I did not mention here that located directly across the street from “Forever Marilyn” is a statue of Lucille Ball that was designed in 1995 by the husband-and-wife sculpting team of Emmanuil and Janet Snitkovsky.
I actually stalked the statue, which is titled “Lucy Ricardo”, way back in May of last year for fellow stalker Owen, of the When Write Is Wrong blog, whose mom is a HUGE Lucy fan, but I never got around to blogging about it.
While doing research for today’s post, I discovered that I had unknowingly stalked another of Seward Johnson’s statues while in San Diego back in 2008. The 25-foot-tall “Unconditional Surrender”, which is part of a 2005 series, recreates the infamous photograph of a sailor kissing a nurse in the middle of Times Square on August 14th, 1945 – the day that the end of World War II was announced. I saw the piece at Tuna Park Harbor, just outside of The Fish Market Seafood Restaurant, in downtown San Diego. It has since been relocated to New Jersey for restoration, but according to a May 28th, 2012 Los Angeles Times article, a replica of it is currently being created and will eventually be on permanent display at the seaside park.
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Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: ‘Forever Marilyn’ is located at the northwest corner of South Palm Canyon Drive and East Tahquitz Canyon Way in downtown Palm Springs. The statue will be on display through June 2013. You can visit the “Forever Marilyn” Facebook page here. The “Lucy Ricardo” statue can be found directly across the street from Marilyn on the northeast corner of South Palm Canyon Drive and East Tahquitz Canyon Way, in front of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.