Across the river from the city where Marilyn Monroe spent too brief a time seriously studying acting, looking at art, writing, reading and falling in love with Arthur Miller, a small, intensely personal show of the cinematic sex symbol’s effects are being shown. Curated by long-time Monroe fan, actress, and comedic legend Whoopi Goldberg has gathered poetry, original artwork, and photographs to reveal, “a glimpse of the woman behind the icon, using never before seen images, some of her personal writings and some pieces of her artwork.”
Mana Contemporary in Jersey City is a huge former tobacco warehouse that has been magnificently renovated to unite artist studios, exhibition spaces, and creative services. One of America’s largest and most innovative contemporary art organisations, Mana now has branches in Chicago and Miami. The meticulously organised Monroe exhibition features Monroe’s Conte crayon drawings. The simple sketches are all titled, like a voluptuous sleeping nude (perhaps a self-portrait?) with a proportionately smaller man in a corner, observing.
Surrealistically distorted images by New York street photographer Weegee capture the stranger side of celebrity. More intimate shots are by Monroe’s close friend Milton Greene that highlight her luminous beauty. Video footage of her movies is also on view.
Monroe’s famous, nearly nude skintight gown, designed by Jean-Louis, is given a place of honour. It was the dress she wore to the famous 1962 Madison Square birthday celebration for President Kennedy. Excerpts of her poems and diaries are heard throughout the exhibit – poignant, personal thoughts that reveal a tender and troubled woman who was much more than the immortal blonde screen goddess.
Words: Ilka Scobie Image Courtesy Mana Contemporary
Mana Contemporary NY presents: Marilyn: Character Not Image September 25, 2016 – October 22, 2016 Curated by Whoopi Goldberg