Icons Revisited

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Confronting his viewers with images that celebrate a shared collective memory, Seward Johnson’s Icons Revisited series, includes monumental works such as Forever Marilyn, standing at a majestic 25-feet in height. While some of Johnson’s subjects are celebrity-based, others are iconic images from art history as seen in his depiction of Leonardo da Vinci’s 1853 masterpiece Mona Lisa, transformed by Johnson into A Reason to Smile. Other sculptures in this series were inspired by historical figures or moments in world history. For example, the artist’s choice of subject for Unconditional Surrender highlights what he believes to be one of our culture’s most patriotic and romantic moments at the spontaneous celebration in Times Square marking the end of World War II.

Johnson often expands upon a particular subject in a unique and deliberate way and makes a statement. An example is his use of ports-of-call stickers on the luggage of God Bless America, the artist’s comment on jobs lost from America to overseas producers. His selection of Marilyn Monroe for Forever Marilyn affirms and celebrates her universally recognized beauty and sensuality. The monumental version serves as a metaphor for her larger-than- life Hollywood status in American and world culture.