Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Styling an Icon

Acrylic on gessoed mounted birch panel, 11 x 14"
painting #256, 2017

This painting was sparked by a previous painting done five years ago, "Famous for more than 15 minutes". (Click HERE to view). It was an homage to Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, Coco Chanel but it is the last luminary, William Travilla that prompted me to re-examine this subject matter for a new still life painting.  

 William Travilla (1920-1990) was an American costume designer for theatre, film, and television. He is perhaps best known for dressing Marilyn Monroe in eight of her films including the pink dress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (click HERE) and the pleated ivory cocktail dress Monroe wore in the 1955 film, The Seven Year Itch while standing on a New York City Subway ventilation grate. Photographs of the scene as her dress rises around her have become synonymous with Monroe herself. The iconic dress, which was later purchased by actress Debbie Reynolds, was sold for $4,600,000 (USD) during a 2011 auction. The eight films Travilla designed Marilyn's outfits are: Monkey Business (1952), Don't Bother to Knock (1952), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), River of No Return (1954), The Seven Year Itch (1955), and Bus Stop (1956). Travilla would receive four Academy Award nominations during his career, winning the Oscar for the 1951 film, Adventures of Don Juan starring Errol FlynnTravilla was nominated for Emmy awards seven times for his work in television, winning twice.

Monroe once wrote to Travilla, "Billy Dear, please dress me forever. I love you, Marilyn."

Madonna would use Marilyn's song-dance sequence of "Diamonds are a girl's best friend'' as inspiration for her 1985 music video, "Material Girl". The set decoration was reconstructed complete with staircase, chandeliers and a number of tuxedo clad chorus boys. She wore a replica of the pink dress with long gloves designed by Travilla from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Click HERE to view. 

Chanel no. 5 enjoyed publicity when Ed Feingersh photographed Marilyn with a bottle of the perfume. In the 1950's the glamour of Chanel No. 5 was reignited by Monroe, whose unsolicited endorsement of the fragrance provided invaluable publicity.“What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No. 5, of course,” the Daily Mail quoted Monroe as saying in the ad.

Standing with the exhibition banner 
"Marilyn, Celebrating an American Icon" at the Jepson Center in Savannah, Ga
held from April to Jul, 2014.

The book featured in this painting was written by Andrew Hansford with Karen Homer. It was published by Goodman Books in 2011, in the UK. The Andy Warhol box in the same pinkish hue has her dress contains 20 note cards. 

The year 2017 marks 55 years since the passing of Monroe, 30 years since the passing of Warhol and 95 years since Coco Chanel brought the world's most famous perfume to market! 

To acquire this painting, please contact:

Galerie de Bellefeuille
1367 avenue Greene, 
Montreal, Quebec H3Z 2A8 Tel: 514.933.4406

On view at ART TORONTO with Galerie de Bellefeuille - October 28-30, 2017.