Dictionary of Art and Artists


that Changed the World


  Lascaux Caves Manesse illuminated Massys Callot Friedrich Picasso
  Tutankhamen's tomb Lorenzetti Grunewald Rembrandt Constable Matisse
  Europa and Minotaur Karlstein Castle Baldung Claude Lorrain Delacroix Marc
  Banquet Tomb Limbourg brothers Altdorfer Velazquez Turner Kandinsky
  Pompeii Van Eyck Cranach Vermeer Ingres Monet
  Birth of Christianity Della Francesca Holbein Rigaud Manet Chirico
  Hagia Sophia Uccello Titian Watteau Burne-Jones Modigliani
  Book of Kells Mantegna Bruegel Canaletto Seurat Chagall
  St Benedict Botticelli Vicentino Boucher Van Gogh Kahlo
  Bayeux Tapestry Anonymous Arcimboldo Fragonard Toulouse-Lautrec Dali
  Donizo manuscript Durer El Greco Gainsborough Munch Ernst
  Liber Scivias Bosch Theodore de Bry John Trumbull Cezanne Hopper
  Carmina Burana Da Vinci Caravaggio David Gauguin Bacon
  Falcon Book Michelangelo Rubens Gros Degas Warhol
  Giotto Raphael Brouwer Goya Klimt  

From Lascaux to Warhol

Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth,
passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius,
but never abandoned.

William Butler Yeats




Making Myths

Film and art


So we think of Marilyn who was every man's love affair with America, Marilyn Monroe who was blonde and beautiful and had a sweet little rinky-dink of a voice and all the cleanliness of all the clean American backyards. She was our angel, the sweet angel of sex, and the sugar of sex came up from her like a resonance of sound in the clearest grain of a violin.

Norman Mailer, Marilyn, 1973


Marilyn Monroe



see collection: Marilyn Monroe





She acted out her life under the devouring gaze of a gigantic audience, one that couldn't get enough of her: Marilyn, the enchanting child-woman, the breathtaking sex-symbol, the unattainable goddess of film. She was unforgettable in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Some Like It Hot, and The Seven-Year Itch. She was wildly acclaimed, dominated the headlines, filled the gossip columns and incarnated the dreams of a decade. Behind the glitz, glamour and the luscious smile which enthralled the world was a vulnerable and immature woman. Did America know it all along? Was that the secret source of her mystique; She had a terrible childhood. She said that she was probably a mistake, that her mother hadn't wanted to have her at all. She never knew her father and was bounced between her mother's home and a series of adoptive families; her mother had a nervous breakdown and Marilyn spent two years in an orphanage. She never graduated from high school and married at sixteen, perhaps to avoid being sent back to an orphanage. She was later to comment that her marriage wasn't unhappy; but it wasn't happy either. She and her husband just didn't have much to say to each other.

Her discovery was all part of the war effort. While her husband was fighting in World War II Marilyn was in a factory checking parachutes. Ronald Reagan sent David Conover, a twenty-five-year-old army photographer, to photograph cheerful young munitions-factory workers. Conover took notice of this girl who could make more out of a pose than anyone he had ever seen. The publicists took his discovery and created "Marilyn Monroe", the icon of post-war Hollywood. She was oddly detached and alienated, saying she always had the feeling that she was not real, that she was something like a well-made counterfeit. She was sure that everyone had similar feelings from time to time but in her case things had gone so far that she sometimes thought she was completely synthetic. She died on the night of 4 August 1962 under mysterious circumstances, but her legend lived on and even grew.

Andy Warhol, the son of Czech immigrants, began his artistic career in advertising, moved on to film-making and became high-society's favourite portrait artist. He ended up a cult figure, probably the cult figure, of Pop Art. His Marilyn Monroe is a twentieth-century icon of art. He wrote of his work that, whether or not his loud colours made her into a symbol was irrelevant, and if the colours were beautiful, it was because she was; beauty calls for beautiful colours. Marilyn Monroe was commercialised beauty, quite artificial and quite misunderstood.


Andy Warhol
Turquoise Marilyn

Andy Warhol
Turquoise Marilyn

Andy Warhol
Pink Marilyn Reversal

Andy Warhol
Marilyn Monroe

Andy Warhol
Marilyn Monroe


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