CHICAGO--()--After four days of speculation by Chicago commuters and residents, a new 26-foot-tall monumental sculpture was unveiled this morning at Pioneer Court on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. With only the legs and skirt on view since Monday, the sculpture created a buzz throughout the city and country leading up to the unveiling of the full sculpture with Marilyn’s head and torso revealed today.
“one key purpose of public art is to initiate dialogue within communities. This monumental sculpture is provocative in its very scale and presence, and should turn heads as well as start conversations.”
Titled “Forever Marilyn”, the sculpture was created by well-known sculptor Seward Johnson of New Jersey. In collaboration with The Sculpture Foundation, Zeller Realty Group, owners of Pioneer Court, commissioned the premiere installation of the sculpture for the viewing pleasure of Chicago residents and visitors through spring of 2012.
Paul Zeller, President and CEO of Zeller Realty Group, commissioned the first installation of the new sculpture in keeping with his long-standing commitment to providing public art and an insistence that art should be interesting, collaborative and thought provoking.
“With Marilyn, we hope to rekindle an attitude and optimism from an era that this iconic figure represents – a time when we, as a nation and a people, were proud, productive, optimistic and self-assured, if a bit mischievous. We seek a return to American Exceptionalism, and trust Marilyn will propel our attitudes in the right direction,” said Zeller
According to sculptor Seward Johnson, age 80, "In this series, ICONS REVISITED, I am trying to discover what makes an image stick 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. It is perfect to have Marilyn make her international debut in Chicago at Pioneer Court. The location is expansive and allows people to see her from a distance as well as easily come close and actually touch her. Paul Zeller, owner of Zeller Realty Group, really understands what I am after with this piece. 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.”
The sculpture is on temporary loan from The Sculpture Foundation, a not-for-profit entity that encourages the placement and sharing of public art. The foundation’s director, Paula Stoeke, states that “one key purpose of public art is to initiate dialogue within communities. This monumental sculpture is provocative in its very scale and presence, and should turn heads as well as start conversations.”
About the artist: A passion for detail and an uncanny realism of pose are qualities often associated with the works of sculptor Seward Johnson. Well-known for recreating life in our times in vividly realistic bronze, with this work the artist wonders in three dimensions why some visual images so captivate us that they become larger than life. These subjects outlive their own time periods and they stand for something metaphoric and grand. Such is this newest release from the hands of artist Seward Johnson, which arrived in Chicago for its international debut. “Forever Marilyn” belongs to the series entitled, ICONS REVISITED.
Chicago is familiar with the artwork of Seward Johnson from sculptures previously presented by Zeller Realty Group in Pioneer Court, such as the impressively tall and provocative “God Bless America,” inspired Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” painting, as well as the Shakespearian figure of King Lear. Another smaller but well-known Johnson piece featuring eight bronze children holding hands and playing, entitled “Crack the Whip,” is located on the Navy Pier lawn. Johnson’s works have visited Chicago on several exhibitions over the past 10 years. Some sculptures were so popular that they were invited to stay beyond their exhibition period and have become familiar fixtures downtown and emblematic icons of the city. Such is the case with “Allow Me,” the bronze gentleman with an umbrella ever hailing a taxi at the entrance to the Four Seasons Hotel on Delaware Place.
The “Forever Marilyn” sculpture is already invoking comments from the public about the windy city and her unfurled skirt. It should also prove visually inspiring to watch Marilyn winter through Chicago storms with icicles and snow drifts. She may need some 12-foot tall leggings and a 10-foot scarf!
Additional photographs are available upon request.