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Is This America’s Creepiest Statue?
Posted by richard | July 17, 2011

If you’re heading to Lollapalooza or, better yet, the Pitchfork festival in Chicago this month, you’ll want to take a brief detour up Michigan Avenue to gape at the city’s newest — and cheesiest — tourist attraction.

A city realty company on Friday unveiled its 26-foot-high statue of Marilyn Monroe that replicates the famous billowy skirt scene from The Seven Year Itch. Unlike the movie version, however, the statue in Pioneer Court puts Marilyn’s lacey granny panties on display for everyone to see.

As you can see from the images below, the creation by artist Seward Johnson brings out the juvenile voyeur in spectators young and old. Seward’s Marilyn is almost certain to become the most photographed (and most frequently vandalized) public landmark in the windy city since that big shiny jellybean was installed over a decade ago.

The piece has taken a beating, however, from both art critics and social commentators who argue that giving folks (including children – see below) a chance to look up a woman’s dress is not healthy public policy, and not what was intended by the creation of the Magnificent Mile strip of public art installations.

Andrew Ritchie, in a widely circulated post from the Chicago Art Blog, had this to say:

“It’s creepy schlock from a fifth-rate sculptor that blights a first-rate public art collection. …  Sadly, the reduction of Monroe to a mere sexual object is exactly what may have contributed to her suicide.  Johnson seems not to realize this.”

Spokesmen for Zeller Realty, which owns and commissioned the statue, have been quoted as saying the Marilyn statue is “art that makes people think”, although there’s more giggling than thinking going on in the photos below.

If you absolutely MUST get a photo of yourself licking Marilyn’s legs or peeking up her dress, you’d better act fast. It’s inconceivable that this monstrosity will last very long before Rahm Emanuel or someone at city hall orders it removed. At the very least, someone will eventually realize that Marilyn’s iconic “subway moment” was shot in New York, and has no connection with Windy City at all.

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