‘Forever Marilyn’ Turns Up in a Chinese Landfill

Sexy statue found face-down in the trash.

Seward Johnson's Forever Marilyn in Chicago in 2011. Photo: JR P/Flickr.

Forever Marilyna massive, 26-foot-tall J. Seward Johnson sculpture of Marilyn Monroe, frozen with her dress blowing updefinitely attracts strong feelings. When it debuted in Chicago in 2011, it drew both enthusiastic fans (many using it as an excuse for semi-lewd photo-ops) and condemnation for its general tackiness. Apparently, Forever Marilyn‘s renown spread as far as China, where a clone of the epic work of kitsch was found mysteriously abandoned at the dump, according to the Huffington Post.

“It is definitely not a Seward Johnson sculpture,” Paula Stoeke, director of Santa Monica’s Sculpture Foundation, told HuffPo via e-mail. “The Sculpture Foundation [which exhibits Johnson’s work] was surprised to see the photo and is researching it now.”

The iconic pose of Monroe in her famous white halter top dress, a garment which fetched $5.6 million at auction in 2011 (see BBC report), originated in the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch. According to NBC News, the Chinese Marilyn clone was created over a two-year period, but was only displayed for six months before she was yanked from a business center in Guigang and tossed in the trash “for unknown reasons.”


Seward Johnson’s Forever Marilyn in Chicago in 2011.
Photo: JR P/Flickr.

Some will see this as where it belongs, but the piece definitely has its fans. The work is currently on view as part of Johnson‘s retrospective at the Hamilton, New Jersey sculpture park Grounds for Sculpture (one of artnet News’s recommended art day trip destinations), and was well received in Palm Springs, California, where it was displayed for two years.

A burgeoning Facebook movement from Palm Spring residents who miss the blonde bombshell is calling for the Chinese version to be rescued from the dump and shipped to Southern California. When the original left in March, mayor Steve Pougnet seemed sad to let the statue go, telling crowds “I will never say farewell. You know me, as the mayor, I always have a few tricks up my sleeve” (see report from the Desert Sun.)

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