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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, March 5

Gapers Block

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David / July 15, 2011 12:35 PM

It feels crass to me. I think that the sculpture abandons the feeling of the photographs on which it is based by orienting nearby viewers underneath the statue. I understand the wink and humor present in changing the viewer's perspective, but doing so makes it just another voyeuristic moment. Who knew we could objectify Marilyn Monroe more than we already have!

Andrew Huff / July 15, 2011 12:37 PM

It's definitely poor taste. It reminds me of Jeff Koons, but devoid of any commentary on the art world -- it's pop culture cheese for its own sake.

Worse, it helps perpetuate the objectification of women. The fact that before it was even finished, people were posing for photos looking up her skirt demonstrates just how ill-conceived this thing was. If Seward Johnson wanted to depict Marilyn Monroe as an American icon, there are dozens of other images of her he could have chosen that wouldn't give everyone a view of her underwear.

Mucky Fingers / July 15, 2011 1:02 PM

It's Michigan Avenue. There's always a need for more tourist bullshit, however irrelevant it may be.

Joe DiMaggio / July 15, 2011 2:20 PM

There was a chick on the train with tattoo's in the right places, her thong showing and the little clothes she was wearing were skin tight. She was totally helping to "perpetuate the objectification of women", and I loved every minute of it!

When did Michele Bachmann take over Gapersblock?

Hey! Oh!

The statue is alright, too. :-)

Adam / July 15, 2011 4:19 PM

All I can say is thank god that this is temporary.

KBlack / July 15, 2011 4:24 PM

It really doesn't objectify anything that hasn't already been objectified, IMHO. What this really is, is Chicago's own "World's largest frying pan" or "Ball of String".
It cheapens the rest of the art and architecture the city is known for.
It is Kitsch!

carl / July 16, 2011 7:59 AM

I think it's boring.

r / July 16, 2011 11:17 AM

It's just not interesting art. What a waste of money on a tired idea. I imagine the artist's home is full of Thomas Kincaid paitings.

MM was a troubled woman who wanted to be loved and taken seriously by her peers, many of whom just wanted to see her get on a heating grate and watch the wind blow up her dress. Nearly fifty years later, we're still wanting to see what her panties look like. Enjoy your picture-taking, tourists! There's a TGIF just up the street.

G / July 16, 2011 12:09 PM

It makes me sick to look at, and to think, we're stuck with it until next spring. Disgusting.

Spook / July 16, 2011 12:59 PM

I hope some enterprising young street artists will make Banksy proud by converting it into true art using spray paint and a blow torch

Monica / July 16, 2011 2:38 PM

It's not interesting and completely dull. Had the artist attached a sign to it that gave it some meaning about how we idolize a troubled woman that died young or how we objectify women, that would have been different.

In regards to it being sexist, I feel like the statue on any size would have still felt like objectification, but on an such a large scale it feels more repulsive.

Ray / July 16, 2011 4:24 PM

If we are going to have public art, it would be nice if it had some artistic merit, rather than being a schlocky theme park attraction. The last occupant of that space, King Lear, was at least somewhat interesting, and the tourists still flocked to it.

Patrick Mulvihill / July 17, 2011 12:40 AM

Marilyn's statue is wonderful. All you screaming liberals....get over it.

Charlie Didrickson / July 17, 2011 6:41 AM

I think it is embarrassingly silly.

Greg / July 17, 2011 10:41 AM

When does the big Denny's open next to it?

Jenny / July 17, 2011 12:39 PM

I like the idea of embracing art, I think Chicago has an excellent representation of all forms, but this is kind of schmucky. (Not sure it's a word!) I think they could have come up with something a little more clever. This just lacks creativity. American Gothic was cool, everyone thought of the farmers in the big city overlooking all the chaos. That got you thinking. This kind of makes you cringe and feel bad. She led a somewhat desperate life. Kind of sad.

Cheryl / July 17, 2011 2:02 PM

It's crap. But if it keeps the tourists down at that part of the Mile, I'm all for it.

Andrew / July 17, 2011 11:57 PM

Richard Roeper:
"So for the record: a New Jersey-born artist creates a sculpture of a quintessential New York movie from 1955 — and it ends up in Pioneer Court on Michigan Avenue.

Did we lose a bet?

If we’re going to host a completely unsubtle, way too large tribute to some movie moment, why not something that, I don’t know, actually was filmed in Chicago?"

eee / July 18, 2011 12:36 PM

I haven't seen it in person, but I will agree that it reminds me of a knockoff Koons.

As towards the objectification of women argument, hey -- it's got people talking about how that objectification is still rampant and what that means for our society. So I guess that's something?

Heebee / July 18, 2011 1:16 PM

I'd love to know why Patrick Mulvihill thinks only liberals would find this in poor taste.

Liza / July 18, 2011 1:55 PM

I was on the CTA bus with an Italian family when we passed by the statue. The mother had to explain who Marilyn was to her 9 year-old daughter. The words I recognized (as the discussion was mostly in Italian) were "oops", "princess" and "like high school musical." Is this really the message we should be sending to children and visitors about our culture?

Dubi Kaufmann / July 19, 2011 1:21 AM

If I were brash,ignorant and criminal, I'd take a red sharpie and add a subtle texture to the skin. The sculpture would be more interesting and true to life.
Good thing I can do it in photoshop.

Spook / July 19, 2011 4:05 PM

I wish Chicago still had some New York style artistic "brash,ignorant and criminal[s]", with some dark
chocolate mahogany sharpies or maybe some mint green sharpies- and some black ones to scribble dollar signs all over Marilyn's
standing plastic corpse. Because although I haven't viewed it and consider it my goal to never will, I can't but help feel that it's a Disney Land/Red Eye version of Lenin's body in Red Square sans the tomb, cause yall know we gotta be over the top like that!

TaJ / July 19, 2011 10:48 PM


won / July 20, 2011 9:22 AM

I get it. It's all pop art and raises an eyebrow...if you're 50 and wear a fanny pack. It's always sad to me that organizers in this city never really research its own artists. We always outsource for what they find on Google as I'm sure the key search words are "urban," "controversial," and most importantly "foreign."

sarah / July 20, 2011 10:21 AM

I think it sucks. It's an embarrassment. I learned that the city has nothing to do with it, it's a private group who owns the space, and that made me feel a little better.

Spook / July 20, 2011 11:35 AM

"if you're 50 and wear a fanny pack"

I'm going add this to my lexicon, and use it liberally.

R / July 20, 2011 12:37 PM

I really want someone to blast Marilyn's panties with red paint. That would really, really rock.

Also, adding insult to injury--the artist of this piece (of poo) is one of the listless trustafarians from the Johnson and Johnson fortune:

Tracie / July 20, 2011 3:25 PM

"trustafarian": I love that word! I'm going to add THAT to my lexicon.

Spook / July 20, 2011 5:21 PM

''I take naps in here sometimes,'' Mr. Johnson said as he pulled a pair of tap shoes from a lopsided drawer. ''Once, when I woke up, I had so much energy I put on my shoes and danced. I'm living in my own dream, you see"- The Johnson and Johnson Trustafarian

Yea that article pretty much created a collective injury, added insult and rock salt! O.K. one case of Chimay Ale to the first artist who avenges this grievous insult with a hammer, spray paint, blow torch, sharpie, wielded on toilet seat, surface to air missile, etc.

Bob Loblaw / July 21, 2011 3:42 AM

It's awesome. She is a SEX symbol. People are too God damn uptight. And we wonder why this country is going to hell. The christian right is full of morons.

vise77 / July 21, 2011 8:56 AM

I dislike it, as it is tacky and I never joined the cult of Ms Monroe. That said, some of the reactions from the men-children, or women-children, above are funny. So, you don't like something, and that leads you to call for vandalism? Yeah, that's cool. And--you must realize this, right--you live in a city of 2.8 million or so, which means probably 2.799 million of those residents have no hope of being as cool an sophisticated as some of you seem to be. So, give them a break--they are trying.

Charles / July 21, 2011 10:02 AM

Yeah, I have not heard anyone say 'I want to see that', which is a pretty good indication that it's garbage. The person or people who are probably happiest about the statue are the folks who supplied the materials for its construction.

Spook / July 21, 2011 10:24 AM

Hey Bobbie! Or actually I bet you do go by plain, old,........ "Bob"

Yea, she was a sex symbol, to pathetic 50 year old guys( with names like Bob, Jim, Chuck,Warren,etc) who wear fanny packs and live in places like Iowa and consider themselves good conservative Pisschristians.

Now a statue of Annie Sprinkle in a red white and blue tutu on disco roller skates? I'm down. Bettie Page dressed as a dark avenging angel? Go for it tattoo the jacket!. Or even better, Angela Davis in a cat suit with a whip and an AK 47 pointed at a cowering Vise77 on his knees in a small dog cage in honor of his "open mindedness" on behalf of idiot white dudes with too much power that gives them far too many opportunities to "try" ? Now where talking sex symbol art!

vise77 / July 21, 2011 10:37 AM

"idiot white dudes"

So, you are racist, too? Got it.

And, hate to break it, but Bettie Page is pretty much a corporate brand at this point.

Kirsten / July 21, 2011 11:11 AM


Louie CK / July 21, 2011 11:56 AM

Here's how great it is to be a white dude — I can get into a time machine and go to any time and it would be fuckin' awesome when I get there!

That is exclusively a white guy privilege!

Black people can't fuck with time machines. A Black guy in a time machine is like, 'Hey anything before 1980, no thank you, I don't wanna go.' For a white guy, the farther back you go the better it gets!!

Hey! Oh!

JasonB / July 21, 2011 12:59 PM

It's offensive and distasteful
but no more so than the photo it is based on.

Aside from that, it's a cheesey excuse for artwork and I hope that it's only temporary.

And I hope her crotch takes a picture of every person that sneaks a peak up her skirt and sends it to their mother.

DJDeeJay / July 22, 2011 9:50 AM

I highly recommend everyone see "Public Speaking," a documentary by Martin Scorsese about Fran Lebowitz. She makes a great point about how the AIDS crisis in the 70's and 80's didn't just take away a whole generation of artists, it took away a whole generation of audiences. Audiences made up of real connoisseurs of art and culture and who shaped culture just as much as the artists. (She said it much more eloquently that this.) After this generation of artists and connoisseus were wiped out, it left us with 3rd- and 4th-tier artists and audiences who don't know any better.

I wonder if this sculpture is an indirect result of that.

vise77 / July 22, 2011 10:16 AM

"I wonder if this sculpture is an indirect result of that."

Because before AIDS, there was never any tacky public art, or, for that matter, crappy art?

Rather thin thesis, I think.

DJDeeJay / July 22, 2011 5:00 PM

No, of course not. And maybe she was just speaking in the context of NYC (entirely plausible, as she's very much a New Yorker). Anyway, I was just thinking about she said art had to become so broad, so un-subtle, for people to get it, at the same time bemoaning the whole new, touristy Times Square.

Urban attractions for tourists + dumbed-down art. This situation just reminded me of those ideas. That's all.

frank / July 22, 2011 7:00 PM

I dont think race, gender, political ideology, or sexuality has much to do with this statue.

I think this statue is the art-world equivalent of some refrigerator magnet. It's boring and uninspiring.

Mike / July 22, 2011 10:51 PM

It looks like a plastic figurine you'd see at some fake 50s theme diner, only it's huge so that you can walk right up to it and stare at her ass and crotch. The scene in the movie was less revealing. It was a tease and she did it of her own free will and got paid for it. With this, I'd feel like I was intruding and going somewhere I didn't belong. She was a real person and she's dead.

Like Ray Davies said:

But please don't tread on dearest Marilyn
'Cause she's not very tough
She should'a been made of iron or steel
But she was only made of flesh and blood

Spook / July 25, 2011 4:39 PM

Amy Winehouse was way Cooler than monroe. I'd rather see a statue of her in a public space.

Amy Winehouse was my Nanny / July 25, 2011 4:58 PM

What's the difference between Amy Winehouse and Michael Jackson?

Nothing, now.

What’s the difference between me and Amy Winehouse?

Amy has more money, but I woke up on Saturday!

Hey! Oh!

spook / July 25, 2011 11:41 PM

Well well well well well! If it aint good old "Hey! Oh"

Gaper Blocker's own "Sunshine"

Not bad old boy, old man of the hounds.

But I confess I liked the white guy/ Black guy time machine one better.
And I hope you don't mind your material being treated as "open source" because I passed that one along faster than the Bubonic plague in the 14th Century, son!

Bobby Chade / August 24, 2011 7:22 PM

OMG I can't believe I am in the minority loving this fun sculpture of the great Marilyn Monroe.

First of all the scale of the sculpture is great. She holds her own among the towering buildings and skyscrapers that surround her.

Secondly, she is in THE WINDY CITY! Although her skirt weighs tons, you can see the moving through it and practically see the movement.

I can't believe the uptight snobby responses here. Marilyn Monroe is a goddess and the sculpture is a tribute to her and the great city of Chicago. Both thrill and excite me.

Get over yourselves people!!

The details

Geena / May 1, 2012 10:39 AM

Good grief thank goodness Chicago will be shamed for such an atrocity any longer. FU! Jenee Castellanos. HOW THE F DI YOU GET YOUR CURATING POSITION? Hmmm,

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