Marilyn Monroe Statue and Her Panties Catch Eyes in Chicago

The 26-foot sculpture of Marilyn Monroe draws crowds and controversy.

August 9, 2011, 12:38 PM

Aug. 9, 2011— -- Marilyn Monroe, in her iconic white dress, is catching a breeze in the Windy City and drawing some controversy.

At 26-feet, a towering sculpture of Monroe's famous pose from the film "The Seven Year Itch" was unveiled on Chicago's Magnificent Mile. In the film, Monroe's dress billows as she passes over a subway grate.

But the giant re-creation at Pioneer Court of that famous scene is raising eyebrows by revealing too much Marilyn for some people.

The sculpture, entitled "Forever Marilyn" by artist J. Seward Johnson, leaves little to the imagination. The crowd at the plaza can go around to the side and at the back of the sculpture, see Monroe's lace panties.

The panties on the icon have drawn a buzz and some controversy, claiming it is tacky and even offensive.

"There's no getting around the fact that that's a sexual image," said Bren Ortega Murphy, a professor of women's studies at Loyola University. "Of all the images that we could choose from, why do we keep coming up with that?"

But some think it's an honest work of art with a bit of humor. They see no harm in a bold, even brazen attempt to attract more tourists.

"It's so funny that you can actually see the underwear," German tourist Katie Taut said. "I like it."

Despite the wide spectrum of opinions, Melissa Farell of Zeller Realty, the company that commissioned the sculpture, said the company is glad the art is drawing diverse reactions.

"We like the fact that people are talking about it," Farell said. "That it's sparking a dialogue, good or bad."

Regardless of the dialogue, there is no denying that nobody is having their picture taken as much in Chicago as Marilyn Monroe. She will remain in the plaza along Michigan Avenue until next spring, where she will be remembered larger than life.

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