Despite theft, tribute to legendary sex symbol goes on
An iconic beauty, a blond bombshell, a woman steeped in scandal – the life of Marilyn Monroe is part fact and part fable, but it is always captivating. On Thursday, May 30, an exhibition titled “Marilyn” will open at the Prague Castle Riding School. The show comprises photographs of the legendary sex symbol as well as other items that are part of her private life and part of her myth. The exhibition will travel on to Tokyo after it closes here Sept. 20.
For the past year, the exhibition has been in Florence, Italy, as part of the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Monroe’s untimely, and mysterious, death at the age of 36. The idea behind the exhibition was to show Marilyn Monroe as something more intricate and sophisticated than the stereotypical celluloid seductress she is often portrayed as being.
“Of course, we wanted to show that she was complex, but we also wanted to show the wardrobe, because people are so curious about the clothes,” the curator and director of the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, Stefania Ricci, tells The Prague Post. “But this is only one part of [the reason] why this exhibition was requested by Prague Castle. It isn’t just an exhibition about fashion. It’s something more; it’s an exhibition about art.”
During two years of intensive research, Ricci and her team scoured the world to find the best photographs, and in the process gathered a collection of 30 pairs of shoes made by the legendary footwear designer Salvatore Ferragamo (he was Monroe’s favorite shoemaker, and she owned many pairs of his shoes) – ” the classic pump with a steel heel,” as Ricci calls it, that became iconic for the company – some 50 different outfits worn by Monroe both on the screen and off, as well as journals, diaries and historic film clips, to create a collection fully devoted to the woman who, for better or worse, embodied female sexuality for several decades – and, for many people, still does.
Where: Prague Castle Riding School
Where: May 30-Sept. 20, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Tickets: 240 Kč; students, kids and seniors half-price
But that’s only part of it. Famous 20th-century and classical artworks have been placed side by side to show beauty through the ages and how historic works of art contributed to the image of the woman considered by many to incarnate a vision of “perfect” female beauty.
Bringing this exhibition to Prague was the work Jan Třeštík, a senior manager of the Armentano Company, who wanted to combine art and popular fashion in one show. On seeing this exhibition in the museum in Florence, he knew immediately that it had to come to Prague.
“I was quite surprised, because I am not such a big fan of exhibitions that are based on lifestyle and fashion,” Třeštík says. “But I was really surprised by the very sophisticated concept of how to connect pure art with lifestyle and the life of Marilyn, and I appreciated this connection and the way [the curators at the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo] put everything together.”
Their method was to use individual exhibition rooms in such a way that the visitor “goes through every room, and at the end [of the exhibition] you understand the full idea,” Třeštík explains. As an example, he cites a famous image of Monroe in which she is posed in a certain position, and this image is juxtaposed against “a picture that is maybe 300 years old, maybe more, and you find the same composition, the same type of beauty.”
Sadly, however, not all of the items originally intended to be exhibited will be on display in Prague. On May 21, a truck transporting some of the pieces – primarily mannequins and photographs – was robbed en route in the Czech Republic, and some 28 important exhibits were stolen.
But, Třeštík says, the show will go on.
“The exhibition will still be opened May 30, and we are having the people from [Museo] Salvatore Ferragamo send us additional photos, or new [exhibits] will be added.”
*Original piece published in The Prague Post on May 29, 2013**