Forever Marilyn

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Forever Marilyn
Forever Marilyn.jpg
Artist Seward Johnson
Year 2011
Type Painted steel and aluminum
Dimensions 7.9 m (26 ft)
Location Chicago, Illinois (2011–2012)
Palm Springs, California (2012–2014)
Hamilton Township, Mercer County, New Jersey (2014–2015)
Coordinates 33°49′24″N 116°32′50″W / 33.8233°N 116.5472°W / 33.8233; -116.5472 (Palm Springs)
Owner The Sculpture Foundation

Forever Marilyn is a giant statue of Marilyn Monroe designed by Seward Johnson. The statue is a representation of one of the most famous images of Monroe, taken from the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch. Inaugurated in July 2011, the statue stood at Pioneer Court in Chicago, Illinois, before it was moved to Palm Springs, California, in 2012. The statue was given a farewell sendoff during the Palm Springs Village Fest on March 27, 2014, to be displayed at an exhibition honoring Seward in New Jersey.

Design and location[edit]

The 26-foot-tall (7.9 m) 34,000-pound (15,000 kg) sculpture, manufactured of painted stainless steel and aluminium, is a super-sized sculptural tribute to Marilyn Monroe's iconic scene from Billy Wilder's 1955 infidelity comedy, The Seven-Year Itch, with the figure imitating the instant that a blast of air coming up from a subway grate raises her white dress.[1] It was built in New Jersey, before being transported to Pioneer Court—part of the Magnificent Mile section of Michigan Avenue in Chicago.[2]

Forever Marilyn sculpture at the Grounds for Sculpture
Forever Marilyn (close up) at GFS
Forever Marilyn (close up of foot) at GFS

In May 2012, Forever Marilyn was moved from Pioneer Court to the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way in Palm Springs, California. In July 2013, P.S. Resorts announced that The Sculpture Foundation, owners of Forever Marilyn, would move the statue to New Jersey for a May through September 2014 exhibit honoring Johnson at the 42-acre Grounds For Sculpture.[3][4] Due to its popularity, the statue remained on display at the GFS through September 2015, after the official end of the Retrospective.[5]

In 2016, the statue was on display in Rosalind Park in the Australian city of Bendigo in connection with the Bendigo Art Gallery's Marilyn Monroe exhibition.[6]


The statue quickly became a popular photo opportunity for tourists, much to the disdain of local critics. Richard Roeper, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, questioned the relevance of the statue to Chicago given that the film was not filmed or set in the city.[2] Roeper went on to criticise those taking photographs:

Even worse than the sculpture itself is the photo-op behavior it’s inspiring. Men (and women) licking Marilyn’s leg, gawking up her skirt, pointing at her giant panties as they leer and laugh. It’s not that the sculpture is shocking or sexist or obscene – but it’s definitely bringing out the juvenile goofball in many of us.

— Richard Roeper[2]

In August and September 2011 the statue was vandalized three times, most recently being splashed with red paint. This was because the statue, according to the executive director of the Chicago Public Arts Group, is "laden with political meaning, and provocative meaning and sexual meaning".[7]


  1. ^ Monumental statue of Marilyn Monroe. Art Media Agency. July 19, 2011. Accessed October 2, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Roeper, Richard. Marilyn Monroe's giant blowing skirt sculpture brings out the worst. Chicago Sun-Times. July 17, 2011. Accessed October 2, 2011.
  3. ^ "Business News: Forever Marilyn to Stay in Palm Springs until Mid-November". The Public Record. 37 (32): 3. July 30, 2013. ISSN 0744-205X. OCLC 8101482. 
  4. ^ Grounds For Sculpture Johnson Retrospective
  5. ^ "Goodbye Norma Jean: 'Forever Marilyn' sculpture comes down". Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
  6. ^ "American crew assemble Marilyn sculpture that gallery director Karen Quinlan says will be a conversation-starter", Bendigo Advertiser, February 2, 2016.
  7. ^ Reese, Ronnie. Vandals splash Monroe statue with red paint. Chicago Tribune. September 28, 2011. Accessed October 2, 2011.

External links[edit]