Chicago Prefers Blondes: Marilyn Monroe Statue

marilyn monroe statue
Photo Credit

Among the skyscrapers, business suits and CTA buses, there’s a new lady gracing our presence downtown this summer. A 26-foot tall one, in fact. Pioneer Court is now home to Chicago’s newest art installation; “Forever Marilyn.” Artist Seward Johnson has created a bronze Marilyn Monroe statue in her signature pose from the film The Seven Year Itch. The corner of Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue has been home to a number of Johnson’s pieces including his interpretation of Shakespeare’s King Lear and a replica of the painting “American Gothic.” Johnson has produced over 200 bronze sculptures that can be seen around the world.

Marilyn stands with her face slightly tilted upward. As the afternoon sun rises over the tall buildings her face glows in the midsummer heat. There is an element of giddiness around the statue. People smile — and perhaps even giggle — as they come across this unexpected friendly face in a sea of unfamiliar ones. No one can deny Marilyn’s charm, even when she’s an inanimate object.

“Forever Marilyn” has caused quite the conversation downtown since it’s unveiling mid July 2011. Although an iconic and beloved woman from the classic 1950’s films, the movie and Marilyn have little to do with Chicago. Other than short visits with Yankee husband Joe DiMaggio and the occasional dinner with Frank Sinatra in the Pump Room, Monroe isn’t exactly synonymous with the city, nor is Itch. It has many people asking why such a prime location would go to something like this. As some question the piece’s validity of being in the center of town, the herds of people making their way to gaze on the beloved Hollywood star cannot be denied. Drawing thousands of people daily, she has easily become the #1 attraction downtown.

Marilyn will be gracing the courtyard just South of the Tribune Tower until April 2012, so you might want to catch a glimpse before she looks for a new breezy subway grate to stand on.

Jessie Stegner

About Jessie Stegner

Jessie has been living in Chicago since 2007 and loved every minute of it. Her only setback is, due to growing up in Sierra Madre, California, she can't feel her toes between the months of November and June. With a degree in Theatre from the University of Colorado at Boulder and training from Second City and Improv Olympic, Stegner can usually be found on a stage somewhere trying to make people laugh. She enjoys falling asleep to the sound of the El train, drinking Blue Moon, jogging on the lovely streets of Ravenswood, eating Thai food and watching White Sox baseball.

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