Thursday, July 16, 2015

Abraham Lincoln and Marilyn Monroe in New York

 A  number of life-like and life-sized sculptures  by  Seward Johnson   is installed  in the Garment District,   District along Broadway between 36th and 41st,  as part of our "Summer Arts on the Plazas" program. 

 Johnson has more than 450 life-size cast bronze works featured in city parks and museums worldwide including in London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Kiev, Sydney, and Osaka.  He is often called as “America’s most popular sculptor” .


The 85-year-old artist is the grandson of Johnson & Johnson co-founder Robert Wood Johnson and is the founder of Grounds for Sculpture, a 42-acre park in Hamilton, New Jersey, that features hundreds of large-scale contemporary sculptures. 


 I wrote about the Grounds for Sculpture  and about one of his most famous sculptures, "Double check" , installed in Zigotti park. 
It is the largest public installation of Johnson's work in New York City, with highlights from three of his major series: "Celebrating the Familiar," ''Icons Revisited" and "Beyond the Frame." 




“Like many of his sculptures, Seward Johnson is a giant in the art world. Having his remarkable works on display in the Garment District is not only a tremendous honor for our neighborhood, but for all of New York City,” said Barbara Blair Randall, president of the Garment District Alliance. “From the Marilyn Monroe to the classic hot dog vendor, each sculpture tells a fascinating story that will have New Yorkers and visitors alike flocking to the plazas. We are absolutely thrilled to showcase Johnson’s work and we have no doubt that Seward Johnson in New York will be the hottest public art exhibit in New York City this summer.”


  “I try to celebrate the human relationship. What we are really about as people, individuals relating to each other and to nature,” said Johnson. “I like people being able to find a part of themselves in art. I hope New Yorkers on their daily commute will be shaken for a moment and pause — either because they are unsure of what is real or because they are reminded of something familiar".



One of the statues is Marilyn Monroe  in here famous white dress.  On 15 September, 1954, Marilyn Monroe stood on a subway grate in New York City wearing a little white dress and fought an upward breeze. It was an hour after midnight  at the corner of New York’s Lexington Ave and 52nd Street. Taking around three hours to film, the scene took 14 takes to get right, while 100 male photographers and between 2,000 and 5,000 spectators (who all loudly reacted whenever her skirt blew up) looked on.


 Designer William Travilla created the  dress.  Travilla arrived in Hollywood in 1941 and won an Academy Award in 1949 for his designs in Adventures of Don Juan starring Errol Flynn. He is credited as the costume designer of over 90 films and television productions — nine of which starred Marilyn Monroe. After Monroe's death in 1962, Travilla kept the dress locked up with many of the costumes he had made.  After his own death in 1990 the dress  joined the private collection of Hollywood memorabilia owned by Debbie Reynolds at the Hollywood Motion Picture Museum.



Grounds for Sculpture, Summer 2015
In 2013  dress was sold for more than $5.6 million in a Beverly Hills, California auction.  It was the first in a series of auctions to sell the massive Hollywood history collection that singer, dancer and actress Debbie Reynolds accumulated over the past 50 years.
Forever Marilyn,  a giant 26-foot-tall statue of Marylyn in her white dress  was  Inaugurated in July 2011. The statue stood at Pioneer Court in Chicago, Illinois, before it was moved to Palm Springs, California in 2012.In  March 27, 2014 the statue was  moved to New Jersey to be   displayed at an exhibition honoring Seward in the park  Grounds for Sculpture.
Johnson  is currently working on a sculpture of Winston Churchill painting at his easel for a site in California's wine country.  He also plans a sculpture of John Steinbeck for Sag Harbor, Long Island. The exhibit will be on display until September 15.