Oh my goodness, where do I even begin?!
I guess first I will start off by sidetracking from my title, and take this time to brag a little about how proud I am of myself for now being able to ride the tube alone without getting lost, understand the map, and switch train lines!!!
I few quick glimpses of my week so far consists of;
Costa Coffee! It’s like England’s version of Starbucks, except they have that too…
Kensington Palace, where my neighborhood royalty live! (it’s casual)
Finding Peter Pan!
Getting accustomed with tube, as I previously said
And visiting Camden and its famous Stables
Saw this book in the Stables, cracked up, and felt it necessary to share with you (a good example of the bizarre things you can find in Camden)
Now on to today. Although I said I am capable of managing the tube system without getting lost, I mentioned nothing about knowing my way on the streets! Thankfully, Waterstone’s has free wifi and my handy dandy map app saved me by pointed me in the right direction! Although, it has been said “not all who wander are lost”, so we’ll just pretend that’s what I was doing! While lost in Leicester Square, I stumbled upon M&M World!
I guess if there’s good place to be lost, this would be it!
Anyways, I finally found my way to the National Portrait Gallery, which consists of portraits from the early Tudors in 1485 to present day! Now normally I’m one of those people who go to a museum and look and each item on display for a split second and then hightail it to the gift shop, but some on the paintings tonight I just couldn’t pass so effortlessly!
Take the painting The Secret of England’s Greatness painted by Thomas Jones Barker, for example! I just couldn’t help but stand awkwardly close and examine it! Unfortunately you can’t see it in the picture above, but what had me the most captivated was how each bead and gem on the jewelry shined. Literally shone like it was actually a sparkling bead tacked on there and not paint on a canvas!
Another piece I stared at, although only for a few seconds until I realized what it was, freaked out, and taking a couple quick steps backwards was Self, a self portrait done by Marc Quinn.
That freaky face is Marc Quinn’s sculpture of himself, made out of nine pints of his own frozen blood. Every five years he re-creates this self sculpture, updating it as he ages. Five sculptures already exist from being made in the past, meaning about 60 pints of Quinn’s blood has been removed from his body yet still exists, which he has mentioned in an interview he finds fascinating.
Then you’ve got the piece called David Beckham, suprisingly of David himself (sarcasm) by Sam Taylor Wood. What makes this portrait special is that it is not a still picture or painting like the others in the collection the Gallery has. This is actually a film of Beckham sleeping after a long practice in Madrid. It’s actually quite an intreguing piece, as you wait for him to move, yawn, and twitch in his sleep. The only part that is not so enjoyable is when you come out of your trance and look around at all the people looking at you like a creep… but hey! He’s a beautiful man, and that’s is what the portrait is meant for!
It was quite a relief, to say the least, when I can to modern day, colored, photographed portraits of people I am familiar with!
Ed Sheeran, a portrait by Steve Schofield (claim to fame, I have hugged Ed Sheeran!)
But the reason for me being at the National Portrait Gallery in the first place, was for a lecture being hosted tonight about Marilyn Monroe. I’m not exactly sure why I was so eager to attend, but I’m glad I did.
I have never payed much attention to the iconic star other then seeing her face on t-shirts and her famous picture with the legendary white dress flying up while she stands over a grate. I knew that my Grandma Bates shared the name Norma Jean with her, and wanted to be related to her in no way so she went by just Jean, so maybe that’s why my interest was caught when I saw something in the description about the transition from Norma Jean to Marilyn Monroe.
The lecture was by Susan Bernard, the daughter of Bruno Bernard, who took thousands of photos of the icon, and you could potentially credit Norma Jean Dougherty’s fame to. Susan has written a book called Marilyn Monroe: Intimate Exposure, based off of her father’s personal journal entries and pictures he took, most of them unseen to the public eye until now.
The two met on Sunset Boulevard as Bruno was walking out of a dentist appointment, when he stopped the young Norma stating it was “purely professional” as he handed her his card, and stating he wanted to “take some test shots” of her. When Norma showed up at his studio a couple days later, she stated she wanted to become a famous movie star and asked to “take sexy pictures of me”, to which he replied “never put hot on hot or it will result in combustion” instructing her to portray a schoolgirl, innocent look she became so famous for.
*All photos of Marilyn I am posting where photographed by Bruno Bernard
Bruno Bernard’s favorite picture he took of her
In 1949, Norma, now Marilyn, met John Hyde who had a heart attack in 1950, but adored her enough to spend his last living days in the hospital getting her a seven year contact with Fox, where her acting career took off.
“It takes me five hours to become Marilyn.”
1950 was the year fame struck big for the former orphan, saying being wanted by the public eye saved her.
In 1954 her “fiction like romance” with husband Joe Dimaggio ended with a divorce, and everything continued to go downhill after that.
After the announcement of her divorce, in the car with her attorney. Bernard said this picture was especially significant because it captures her real tears, and not glycerine.
A few months before her death, Monroe and Dimaggio were photographed by Bunro Bernard walking on a beach in Florida together, and in Bruno’s journal he took note of the true happiness of Marilyn’s face while she was with Joe, and wondered if they would remarry. Months after her death by overdose, he wondered if her happiness with Joe could have saved her, and his theory in their marriage was proven true when paperwork from Joe’s attorney surrfaced that they were to be remarried on August 8, 1962, the day she was buried. Joe mentioned to a reporter “I was meant to kiss her at the alter today, but instead I kissed her at her burial”.
Marilyn and Joe on the beach in Florida
After soaking in what Susan Bernard was saying, well, my mind has been blown! I had never looked at Marilyn Monroe as anything other then an icon and poster girl, never a real person, like Norma Jean. Too say the least, I’m now hooked on learning more and more about her life and the legacy she seems to have left behind.
Marilyn and Bruno
“it all started with you”, she said to him in between takes of standing over that famous grate.
So, there’s your history lesson of the day! I hope you enjoyed my crappy summary of the lecture, as much as I enjoyed hearing Susan speak about it!