The iconic image of Marilyn Monroe dress billowing above a New York City subway grate, on a hot summer night, in the 1950s, has gone on display in the Times Square subway station. A blown-up version of Sam Shaw’s classic picture is central to a new display. The exhibition features eight of Shaw’s series of Marilyn Monroe pictures. All are on view inside the 42nd Street-Bryant Park station on the B, D, F, M and 7 lines. The display opened on Thursday 20 December and it will be on view for a year. Shaw shot the subway grate photo for the 1955 film “The Seven Year Itch.” He also snapped other related photos in 1957. The display is part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Arts for Transit program. Manager Lester Burg says; “matching a mass transit setting with a popular figure from mass culture seemed a good fit”.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority network in New York City has created a first-rate art museum experience with works created in mosaic, terra cotta, bronze, glass and mixed-media sculpture.
The founders of the New York City subway believed that every design element in the system should show respect for our customers and enhance the experience of travel. Language was added to contracts that required the highest quality materials and craftsmanship. This led to the extensive use of ceramic tile, terra cotta and mosaics as decorative elements. As the century-old transportation network is restored and renewed, these decorative elements of the past are preserved and protected as contemporary art and design are introduced.
In conjunction with a massive rehabilitation program launched in the 1980’s, MTA Arts for Transit was created to oversee the selection of artists and installation of permanent artworks in subway and commuter rail stations. The program encompasses Music Under New York, a Transit Poster Program and the Lightbox Project, a series of photography exhibits. The public is now invited to discover and enjoy this diverse and beautiful collection of commissioned public artwork installed throughout the subway and commuter rail stations of the MTA.
The Marilyn Monroe dress that flirted revealingly with a gust of New York subway air in “The Seven Year Itch” resently fetched a record $4.6 million at an auction of film memorabilia.