Best Group Exhibition - 2008
"Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe"Boca Raton Museum of Art
501 Plaza Real
Boca Raton, FL 33432
Nearly half a century has elapsed since the meteoric career of Marilyn Monroe, and a case can be made that we still don't really know the creature who started out life as Norma Jeane Mortenson Baker and ended it 36 years later as a drug-overdose statistic. That premise was beautifully realized in the Boca Museum's "Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe," which used more than 300 works by more than 80 artists to make the case. No such exhibition would be complete, of course, without some of Andy Warhol's 1967 screenprints of the star — iconic images of an icon — and the show featured nine of them, along with works in a variety of other media. But as befitting someone so beloved by the camera, Monroe, who appeared in over 30 films in just 14 years, was most often presented as a photographic subject. There were shots from her landmark shoots — Tom Kelly's "Red Velvet Photos" of 1949; Douglas Kirkland's "An Evening with Marilyn" of 1961; Bert Stern's "The Last Sitting" of 1962, shortly before her death — as well as images from sessions with Bernard of Hollywood, Milton Green, and Sam Shaw. The entire show, in fact, could be seen as a sort of miniature who's who of 20th-century photography, with prominent works by Eve Arnold, Peter Beard, Cecil Beaton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Eisenstaedt, and Philippe Halsman. All in all, it added up not just to a striking portrait of a multifaceted personality but also to an examination of someone who inhabited her cultural moment with unusual fullness.