Monday, February 26, 2024

Monroe, Nudity

 Special Report: Marilyn Monroe, Nudity and her last film- NOT SAFE FOR WORK

Michael Flores from The Global Psychotronic Film Society 
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Special Report: Marilyn Monroe, Nudity and her last film- NOT SAFE FOR WORK

If page freezes, refresh. Marilyn came out of a swimming pool with the press watching, removed her flesh colored tights and stood naked. This was how she wanted to be filmed for SOMETHINGS GOT TO GIVE


Marilyn never had a problem with being naked. When she modelled her playfulness was always present, nude or not.

Marilyn Monroe has a fame that until Taylor Swift, no other celebrity ever achieved. Yet part of the reason she is legend is people can project on to her whatever they want to believe. Victim. Lost child. Behind all the fantasies, the belief that they could have saved her. The fantasies move from the rich and powerful (The Kennedy’s) to UFO’s, Roswell, CIA, the mob.

Crazy beliefs with no factual basis, except the need to keep her in the shadows of men.

Never mind the facts. Our fantasies mean more than her reality.

“I never wanted to be Marilyn—it just happened. Marilyn is like a veil I wear over Norma Jean.” – Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn lived during a time when secretaries often taught executives their jobs- because no woman could have the job. A woman needed a male co-signer, or she couldn’t get a loan from a bank. When Marilyn announced she was forming her own production company- the press ridiculed her both to her face and in print. These were the times she was in. You and I couldn’t save her without changing those times. After World War 2 people self-medicated. No one really understood depression (doctors would tell you to snap out of it), drugs administered were just meant to keep you high, not balanced. America self-medicated with booze and pills. It’s easy to see today stars like Sinatra were bi-polar or that Marilyn suffered from depression. But in the 1940’s and 1950’s? Time for another drink. Another pill.

Some women dreamed of marrying the boss. Some used their beauty to become a mistress with their bills paid. Some married hoping the husband could bring them a world denied them. Some listened to or watched soap operas, some lived them in the hours they did nothing at home. It doesn’t take 12 hours to make dinner or wash last nights plates. But Marilyn figured out how to beat the system at its own game.

Photo: Marilyn on the set of SOMETHING’S GOT TO GIVE in front of the press. She would have been the first major star with a nude scene since censorship came in 1934.

When Marilyn grew weary of studio execs and casting directors threatening, firing and withholding jobs to try to get her to have sex with them- she wrote an article about it.

That had never happened before, and when one realizes how long Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby pulled that crap it is still rare. But the message was loud and clear. Do it again, and I could write about it.

The odds were always against her. Her mother was schizophrenic and tried to choke her to death when she was a child. She got married at 16 just to get away from plans to send her to an orphanage. But she knew she wanted a movie career. She divorced her first husband who did not believe in her, and when she signed her first contract and Ben Lyons came up with the name Marilyn to replace Norma Jeane Mortenson she came up with the name Monroe. That was her mother’s maiden name. She was involved in creating her new image. The studio knew her true story would be bad and distracting for the press and she went along with their story she had been an orphan. She knew what she had to do.

She knew she needed an army of powerful men to achieve her goals. From the agent Johnny Hyde to film executive Joseph Schenck she began using her charms to assemble her army. When nude photos were discovered of her and the studios and Hollywood thought she was finished- and many were telling her to deny they were her, she admitted they were her. And she told the truth about her childhood. Prudish America melted. Women rallied around her. By being honest, at the right time, her fandom grew.

And when she said she was not ashamed of posing nude, her honesty won people over to her.

Marilyn fought for and got fair pay, control of her projects - victim? You must be joking.

Before Marilyn started work on her film with Dean Martin she had been hospitalized for depression, had addictions to pills and booze, had her gall bladder removed. Within 3 months of starting work on the film she was dead. Suicide or one of the first opiod victims- we’ll never know. This is a documentary about the making of her last, unfinished and unreleased film:

Click this for SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE documentary

Here is the only known footage that exists of the unfinished film:

BEHIND THE PAYWALL: Marilyn’s first starring role as a burlesque dancer in LADIES OF THE CHORUS. And she actually sings in the film!

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The Chicago Psychotronic Film Society which begat The Global Psychotronic Film Society is quite a party. From it's earliest days with guests JOHN CLEESE, ROBERT DeNIRO, BILL MURRAY (our first dues paid member), DAN AYKROYD, SYDNEY POLLACK, RUSS MEYER, CLIVE BARKER, JOHN DUGAN, PENN AND TELLER, KENNETH ANGER, DARIO ARGENTO and many more there was nothing like it on earth. People travelled from all over the world to attend our parties or host them and none of the celebrities were paid to be at the events.

We did shows at bars and clubs LIMELIGHT, KABOOM, THE LYRIC OPERA (!), THE BIOGRAPH THEATER, THE LIAR'S CLUB and many more places. This meant you had to be 21 to attend and there were no dealer tables.

We were the only fandom that had an equal number of women in the group at a time when women avoided fandom! Join us on Facebook here: The party starts now

The Global Psychotronic Film Society based on Substack will soon be posting our podcast - become a paid member and help us make that a reality! 

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© 2024 Michael Flores
PO Box 167963, Chicago, IL 60616

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Art Is on the Moon

Morning News
February 26, 2024

Jeff Koons’s Art Is on the Moon, but His Prices Have Cratered. Can Power Players Reignite His Market?
The Art Detective
Jeff Koons’s Art Is on the Moon, but His Prices Have Cratered. Can Power Players Reignite His Market?
By Katya Kazakina

Jeff Koons’s Art Is on the Moon, but His Prices Have Cratered. Can Power Players Reignite His Market?

Major shows will soon hit Hong Kong, New York, and London. Will a collector pay more than $50 million for his sculpture of Michael Jackson and Bubbles?

Jeff Koons, Michael Jackson and Bubbles, 1988 ©️ Jeff Koons. Photo by Douglas M. Parker Studios, Los Angeles

Underestimate Jeff Koons at your own peril.

The artist’s soaring ambition shows no sign of abating, market doldrums be damned. In the past year alone, Koons has taken on the moon, where his sculptures just landed after a weeklong journey—and the sun (more on that later).

Here on Earth, some of the 69-year-old artist’s biggest champions are working hard to reverse the recent downward trajectory in his prices.

The stakes are high. Koons’s auction totals have plummeted since his gleaming steel Rabbit (1986) fetched $91 million in 2019, making him the most expensive living artist in the world, the crown he still holds. Last year was particularly bad: Sales fell to just $27.8 million, down 84 percent from the peak of $170.8 million in 2014, according to the Artnet Price Database. Almost 40 percent of the 292 Koons lots offered failed to find buyers. He ranked 72nd on a list of artists’ annual auction revenue, down from 55th in 2022—itself a demotion from 2019, when he was 15th, according to Artnet data.

Such ebb-and-flow is not new for Koons. At various points in his long career, he has been the world’s most famous artist and the comeback kid. Right now he appears to be both at the same time. And so this spring, several powerful secondary market players are mounting Koons exhibitions in New York, London, and Hong Kong to remind everyone of his greatness.



© 2024 Artnet Worldwide Corporation

© 2024 Artnet Worldwide Corporation

They believe that his market will bounce back, realigning itself once again with his art historical significance.

“There’s no question about it,” said Dakis Joannou, who’s been collecting Koons for almost 40 years, becoming a close friend along the way.

Several significant works that the Greek collector originally acquired are now heading to Hong Kong for “Jeff Koons: 1979–1999” at Art Intelligence Global (AIG), the advisory firm co-founded by Amy Cappellazzo and Yuki Terase. The exhibition unites a dozen pieces from Koons’s early series, including the “Inflatables,” “Equilibrium,” and “Made in Heaven.” Most will be appearing in Asia for the first time, according to AIG. One work, Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988), has an asking price in excess of $50 million. The exhibition will open on March 23 alongside Art Basel Hong Kong.

a young jeff Koons with his porcelain sculpture of Michael Jackson in a SoHo freight elevator

Jeff Koons with his porcelain sculpture of Michael Jackson in a SoHo freight elevator, 1989 ©️ Thomas Hoepker/Magnum Photos

“Jeff Koons is one of the most well-known names in Asia, and yet he’s never really had a proper survey there, especially of the early works,” Terase said in an interview. “We are doing something very meaningful because a lot of people have only seen the works on social media and the internet, but never in person.”

In London, Skarstedt gallery will display five mural-size canvases in “Jeff Koons: Paintings, 2001–2013.” Opening March 1, the show will arrive in time for the marquee London auctions of Impressionist, modern, and contemporary art. It will include works from the “Easyfun-Ethereal” series, which started with seven paintings commissioned by the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin in 2000. (None of the Guggenheim’s paintings are in the show, the gallery confirmed. But two other pieces from the series are included, having recently come to auction, with Hot Dog, 2002, fetching $1.9 million in November and Pancakes, 2001, selling for $867,000 in 2021.)

Then, New York’s Mnuchin Gallery will revisit its watershed 2004 exhibition, “Jeff Koons: Highlights of 25 Years,” which included many of his greatest hits, including Michael Jackson and Bubbles. The show began a new chapter for the artist, following a painful decade marked by the end of his first marriage in a bitter divorce and his near-bankruptcy while creating the “Celebration” series.

“It was an awe-inspiring show,” said Michael McGinnis, a partner at Mnuchinremembering its impact when he was the head of contemporary art at Phillips. 

Stellar reviews followed and Koons’s auction market took off, crossing $20 million in auction sales for the first time that year. It would not sink below that level until the global pandemic hit in 2020, when annual sales plummeted to just $2.7 million.

Mnuchin’s show, set for late April, will present 25 artworks spanning the artist’s entire five-decade career. “It will be a wow, wow, wow kind of show,” McGinnis said, declining to elaborate on the specific works because loans have not been finalized.

collage by jeff koons of a blow up puppy shaped like a hot dog with baloney sandwiches in the bg and an outline of a female nude in the foreground

Jeff Koons, Hot Dog, 2002. © Jeff Koons Courtesy of Skarstedt

Those in the know whispered that hedge-fund billionaire and Mets owner Steve Cohen may loan his yellow Balloon Dog (1994–2000), instead of the orange sibling that was in the original show, courtesy of its then owner, Peter Brant. (Yes, it does fit!) Sadly, the Rabbit, which was in the 2004 show, is unlikely to make an appearance. (Museums hold three of the four pieces in the edition; the only one in private hands was reportedly bought by Cohen in 2019 and subsequently resold to billionaire financier Ken Griffin, market insiders told me.)

Back in Hong Kong, AIG’s lineup will include works that have become icons after appearing in prestigious exhibitions, such as the artist’s 2014 retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. (Large Vase of Flowers, 1991, a massive, intricately carved wood bouquet, graced the cover of the Whitney’s exhibition catalog.) Terase and Cappellazzo are preparing for crowds, given the value of the artworks and their consequent insurance requirements.

“There will be a line around the block to see the show,” Cappellazzo said.

Several pieces have been closely linked to Joannou’s massive art collection, and they return to the market after decades. Take One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Spalding Dr. JK 241 Series), a seminal 1985 work comprising a basketball suspended in a tank. Joannou saw it at Koons’s first solo exhibition at the International With Monument Gallery in New York’s East Village. It made a memorable first impression, he said, “something I couldn’t get out of my mind.” He bought the work for $2,700.

“And that’s how eventually I got to meet Jeff and the whole thing started from there,” Joannou told me.   

Joannou went on to acquire examples from almost every subsequent series Koons made (until the two most recent ones). He waited six years to get the red Balloon Dog, the first puppy from the “Celebration” series (and only after paying for its production). Twenty years would go by before he received a giant pile of Play-Doh (1994–2014).

A color photograph of artist Jeff Koons and collector Dakis Joannou with Koons's sculpture One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Spalding Dr. JK 241 Series)

Jeff Koons & Dakis Joannou, 2004, by Todd Eberle © Todd Eberle
Courtesy: DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art

The artist and his patron became close over the years. Joannou is the godfather of Koons’s son Ludwig. The artist created the famously unorthodox (camouflage-inspired) look of his collector’s yacht, Guilty, and designed a heart-shaped wedding cake for his daughter’s wedding. (That concoction featured 2½-foot-tall figures of a swan and a rabbit that would later become 12- and 14-foot-tall sculptures.) The two men’s families vacationed together on Greek islands. In 2010, Joannou invited Koons to curate a controversial show of his collection at the New Museum.

But the most poignant manifestation of their friendship appeared two years ago on the island of Hydra in Greece, where each summer Joannou’s Deste Foundation taps contemporary artists to transform a small, cliff-side former slaughterhouse into an art display.

Notoriously controlling and perfectionist, Koons held the details of the project in absolute secrecy, making everyone involved sign non-disclosure agreements, according to Joannou, who first saw it just half an hour before the public opening.

“It was like giving me a present of the first impression,” he said.  

What he saw left him speechless. Koons transformed the dark, rugged bunker space into a temple to Apollo, complete with replicas of ancient frescoes discovered in a house near Pompeii (now displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art), a polychrome animatronic sculpture of the Greek sun god accompanied by a snake flicking its tongue, and a 30-foot-wide, blazing-gold wind spinner shaped like the sun, mounted on the roof to greet boats entering the port.

koons hydra apollo windspinner

Jeff Koons, Apollo Windspinner, 2020–2022. Installation view of the exhibition “Jeff Koons: Apollo,” DESTE Foundation, Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra  © Jeff Koons, Photo: Eftychia Vlachou.

“I think of it as the island’s Statue of Liberty,” said Linda Yablonsky, the author of a forthcoming biography of Koons. “For those of us who know Dakis and know Jeff, that was a very touching and meaningful gesture.”

Meanwhile, just as this column was going to print, Koons’s artworks—small replicas of the moon—landed on the lunar surface, the first authorized artworks to reach that rocky terrain. Koons’s ability to pull off such a feat is what gives his fans confidence in their investments, despite market turbulence.

“He’s moving every time in the area that you could not have even imagined,” Joannou said when we spoke. “You can never catch up with him. Now he’s off to the moon!”

Koons’s market is also ready for blastoff, his boosters argue.

“This is the right time to buy Jeff Koons,” said Alberto Mugrabi, a collector and trader whose family bought the orange Balloon Dog for $58.4 million in 2013. “Jeff Koons has only one way to go, and that’s up.”

  • Access the data behind the headlines with the artnet Price Database.