Marilyn Monroe at the Grounds for Sculpture

by Harlan, September 5, 2014

Visiting the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey is a surreal experience. The type of art by Seward Johnson, who established this site and the Sculpture Foundation, often appropriates other works of art and restaging them as sculpture, typically on a larger-than-life scale. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

But the grounds, when peaceful and not crowded, provide a good opportunity to sit among a strange merging of the beauty of nature and the strangeness of manufacture. I’ve been to the grounds several times, but I haven’t been back since last summer. That time, I brought with my a friend and my camera. I came away with several photographs I was quite happy about.

This time, I was drawn to the Grounds for Sculpture because one of Johnson’s most popular works, a large sculpture depicting of one of Marilyn Monroe’s most memorable moments, was in town as part of a retrospective focusing on the artist. Athena is a big fan of Marilyn, so I did not want to miss the opportunity for her to see the 26-foot tall Forever Marilyn.

My attention took us all around the grounds, giving my eyes and my shutter finger some artistic exercise. We entered the park in the late morning, which is not the ideal time either for lighting or for isolation from the distraction of the crowds, which were plenty due to the very popular, limited-engagement exhibition.

I started the day solely with a Canon 24mm f/1.4L and later switched to the 24-70mm f/2.8L II. Good intentions for primes in the morning lead to the laziness of zooms later in the day.

The Seward Johnson retrospective is on exhibition through September 21.

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