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Pop Art Sculpture in Chicago Angers Some People

July 15, 2011

Forever Marilyn by Seward Johnson, 26’ painted steel and aluminum

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The local television news has been reporting the mixed reactions of local people in response to the huge Marilyn Monroe statue that recently dropped on the Mag Mile.  Negative reactions include:

  • The statue is vulgar. Some people are glad of the panties, others expected the area under the billowing skirt to be flat or at least less realistic.
  • The behavior of people under the statue is far more vulgar than the statue itself.
  • The statue reinforces sexualizing or lookist attitudes toward women and is thus derogatory, or at least a step backwards for social equality.

The news reports it’s creator feels the work is all about Marilyn Monroe, a celebration of the popular iconic film star and not much more.  People expressing appreciation for the work based their comments in the craftsmanship of the statue and a fondness for Monroe.  I have not trekked out to see it.  My initial reaction is that the statue is boring, an easy win with a public under stress by using nostalgia.  The more strain there is with violence, conflict, the economy, etc. the more people feel fond for the good ole days and find comfort in nostalgia.  I liked the giant eyeball more; at least the work was autobiographical:

Eye by Tony Tasset as on display in Chicago, July 2010; 30’ painted fiberglas

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