There is no simple answer to the question, why her.
What was it in this particular woman that makes heads turn around till this day? What was it in her looks or character that still inspires the creation of Marilyn Monroe art 50 years after her death? She was a reasonable actress and wasn’t an amazing singer, but till this day, 80 years after she was born as “Norma Jean”, every child still knows her name.
When she died she left behind her nothing but the wondrous shadow of her image that even in the most sexual photographs, including some completely nude, there was still a quality of innocence. Good Marilyn Monroe art will always express this quality.
Marilyn truly was representative of the ‘American dream’. She went from rags to riches. Due to her mother’s mental instability and the fact that she wasn’t married at the time, Marilyn as a baby girl who was then called Norma, was given to a foster family. She was fostered for 7 years, then returned to her mother for a short time, soon to be looked after by a close family friend, Grace Makey, as her severely depressed mother was hospitalised in Santa Monica mental institute in 1934.
Grace loved and adored her, but had to give her up to an orphanage due to financial difficulties. She once told the young Marilyn ‘don’t you worry Norma Jean – you’ll be a beautiful girl when you grow up, an important woman, a movie star’. And we all know that Grace’s predictions would turn out to be true with Monroe reaching a whole new level of stardom and inspiring authors, journalists and Marilyn Monroe art for years to come.
The transition from this troubled childhood to the life of the bleached blonde iconic star we all adore is an essential part of Marilyn Monroe’s mystifying appeal. It is this essence that artists such as myself try to capture in our Marilyn Monroe art works.
While working in a parachute check-in factory in 1944, Marilyn was pictured by the army in order to show women contributing to the war effort. One of the photographers, David Connover asked to continue taking her pictures and by Spring, 1945, she rapidly became known as every photographers dream and appeared on 33 national magazine covers. Many of these unforgettable photographs were the muse of the Marilyn Monroe art we see today, including my own.
In the Summer of ’46 Marilyn changed her name from Norma and signed a contract with 20th Century Fox. This led to her movie career, in which she starred in a total of 28 movies, including ‘Some Like It Hot’ (my favourite!) In 1949, Marilyn agreed to model nude for a pin-up calendar, an act that was very controversial for the continuance of her career as a Hollywood star.
Marilyn’s fame was overwhelming. Her story ended in bitter tragedy. Her health deteriorated in the late 50s due to drug addiction, an unhappy marriage with Arthur Miller and the suffocating existence of stardom. She reportedly had affairs with both J F Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy not long before her tragic early death which aroused much speculation.
It is this amazing story of a poor girl reaching fame and success, but then being swallowed by the pressures and demands of our consumerist world, along with her unrivalled combination of sexiness and innocence, that inspire Marilyn Monroe art and our undying interest in this icon’s life.