Life as a Legend:
Marilyn Monroe
at the Boca Raton Museum of Art

Bernard of Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe, silver gelatin print, 63 x 52.9 inches


Eve Arnold, Misfits. Marilyn Monroe on the set of “The Misfits”, 1960, color print, 32 x 42 inches


Bernard of Hollywood, Marilyn in Korea, 1954, silver gelatin print, 59 x 52 inches


Milton H. Greene, Marilyn Monroe, Los Angeles, “Peasant sitting,” 1954, photograph,
112 x 112 inches


Bert Stern, “Here’s to you” from “The Last Sitting,” 1962, color print, 68.6 x 63.4 inches

By: Julie Mullen-Kaminski

“Real beauty and femininity are ageless
and can’t be contrived. Glamour can be
- Marilyn Monroe

Inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s glamour, sensuality, and 1950’s Hollywood persona, artists, for decades, have been creating works to compliment this instantly recognizable pop icon--a unique personification of femininity, naïveté and sexuality. 

Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe at the Boca Raton Museum of Art is a vivid and diverse exhibition of more than 300 artworks that create a visual voyage through the many facets of Monroe (1926-1962), her rise to stardom, and her controversial and untimely death.  

With a rich mix of works and styles from fashion photography to Pop Art, visitors can experience the iconic life of America’s favorite sex symbol. These works include more than 80 artists, including Andy Warhol, Allen Jones, Peter Blake, Richard Avedon, Bert Stern, Henri Cartier-Bresson and many others.  

The exhibition begins with Tom Kelley’s Red Velvet Poses which would become the proto-type for Playboy’s future playmate centerfolds. It continues with the sensuous Douglas Kirkland bed sheet shots, One Night with Marilyn. Also shown is the once newly rehabilitated, revived and slender Marilyn Here’s to You photos with champagne glass in hand, celebrating her entrée back into Hollywood, during the poignant The Last Sitting by Bert Stern. This collection, taken for Vogue, was a series of 2,500 photographs, some nude or semi-nude, taken of Monroe over a three day period, six weeks before her death. 

Life as a Legend depicts recognizable moments in Monroe’s film career, such as Sam Shaw’s famous Seven Year Itch subway grate scene with Thomas Ewell and also portrays Ernst Haas’s pensive Misfits behind-the-scenes shots. In addition to the introspective lens of Shaw, Haas, Kelley, Kirkland (for LOOK Magazine’s 25th Anniversary issue), Stern and others, artists such as Pop Art legend Andy Warhol and Mel Ramos and other more avant-garde artists such as Antonio de Felipe and Yasumasa Morimura offer their interpretations.

 Marilyn Monroe came into the world in the charity ward of Los Angeles General Hospital as “Norma Jeane Mortensen.” Norma Jeane spent much of her life in poverty, orphanages, and foster homes which led to emotional turmoil and an alleged sexual assault at the age of eight. Despite a turbulent early life and a failed marriage at 16, she cast off her humble beginnings and emotional turmoil to become one of the archetypical movie stars and most recognized pop icons of the 20th century.  

Early on, Norma Jeane was able to bond with the camera. Photographer David Conover, who was taking pictures of girls helping out the 1945 war effort at a Radio Plane Factory, first discovered this seemingly natural connection. Within a year her popularity as a model skyrocketed and she appeared on the covers of 33 national magazines.  

Soon thereafter, Norma Jeane set her sights higher and began to dream of becoming a movie star. One month after her 20th birthday in 1946, she interviewed with casting director Ben Lyon at 20th Century Fox. She soon won an acting contract (that initially paid her $75 a week) and changed her name to “Marilyn Monroe.”  

On the screen she became known for her sex appeal and comedic and serious acting in such classic films as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Bus Stop, Seven Year Itch, Some like it Hot and How to Marry a Millionaire. The public was also fascinated with her personal love life from her celebrity marriages to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller to her rumored liaison with then President John F. Kennedy. 

Sometime after 10 p.m. on August 4, 1962, Marilyn Monroe slipped into a coma caused by an overdose of sleeping pills. She would never regain consciousness. Her untimely death at 36 remains surrounded in mystery and controversy--from suicide to political cover-up to possible murder--as does the private woman behind the myth. However, even today, people’s fascination with her persona and life lives on. Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe’s artistic interpretations and stylistic diversity celebrates the many aspects of Monroe’s iconic status, while allowing the viewer to explore the tender vulnerability of this captivating immortal legend.  

The Boca Raton Museum of Art is open Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Wednesday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday noon- 5 p.m. For Special Exhibitions, admission is $17 for adults, $15 for seniors, $12 for groups (15 or more) and $6 for students. There are admission-free Wednesday evenings during special exhibitions. For more information call 561.392.2500 or visit

The Boca Raton Museum of Art was founded in 1950 as the Art Guild of Boca Raton, and has evolved into one of the leading cultural institutions in South Florida. Celebrating its fifth year in its 44,000 square foot home in Mizner Park, the Museum has achieved international recognition as a world-class visual arts institution, presenting dynamic traveling exhibitions from acclaimed and emerging artists, and an outstanding permanent collection. Some of the Museum’s programs include the Art Films, artist lectures, family programs, Music at the Museum, the International Film Series, and more than 90 classes a week at its studio Art School. Call 561.392.2500 or visit for more information. 

About the author:
Julie Mullen-Kaminski
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Boca Raton Museum of Art
501 Plaza Real, Mizner Park
Boca Raton, FL 33432
T: 561.392.2500, ext. 202
F: 561.391.6410
C: 561.716.6284

Bob Henriques, Marilyn Monroe during the filming of the “Seven Year Itch,” 1958, silver gelatin print,
42 x 32 inches

Milton H. Greene, Marilyn Monroe, New York City, “Ballerina” sitting, 1954, photograph,
112 x 112 inches

Bernard of Hollywood, Marilyn, silver gelatin print,
63 x 52.9

Werner Berges, Look, 1973, Folie and Rapido
on cardboard, 103 x 73 inches

Antonio de Felipe, En el jardin de Hollywood Marilyn flowers, 2003, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 200 inches

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