Large. That’s an understatement when talking about the Marilyn Monroe sculpture in Palm Springs.
It’s HUGE. At 26-feet-tall you can’t miss it. It’s just off the main thoroughfare near the Palm Springs Art Museum.
Artist Seward Johnson captures Monroe in her iconic pose from the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch, where her dress swirls around her. The sculpture is titled Forever Marilyn.
The back side, well, that shows her underwear. And that has some people aghast—seeing a statue with underwear. Wow! People really don’t understand or appreciate art. How many sculptures and paintings show nudity? It’s not like Monroe is depicted in a thong; not that that would be wrong or bad.
I think the piece is magnificent. It’s so life-like—other than being so big.
The stainless steel and aluminum piece was first unveiled in Chicago in 2011. Then it traveled to various locations in the United States; coming to Palm Springs in 2012 before moving again. The 24,000-pound sculpture returned to this desert town in 2021, and is expected to be a permanent fixture.
Information at the installation says, “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 vivid realism, with this series titled ‘Icons Revisited’ the artist explores in three dimensions why some visual images so captivate us that they become larger than life.”
Johnson died in 2020.
Another panel explains Monroe’s connection to Palm Springs: “In 1949, at age 22, Marilyn was ‘discovered’ in Palm Springs at Charlie Farrell’s Racquet Club by William Morris talent agent Johnny Hyde. Many famous photos of Marilyn were taken around the racquet club’s swimming pool. In the 1950s, she was a regular visitor to Palm Springs with her second husband, baseball great Joe DiMaggio. Marilyn Monroe loved Palm Springs and the presence of Forever Marilyn is a true homecoming.”