Saturday, July 9, 2011

"A Tale of Obsession: David C. Nolan and Marilyn Monroe" Artist Statement

This is a portrait of David C. Nolan whose name and address is stamped across Marilyn Monroe’s body in every image. Until recently, these photographs were stored in my family’s safety deposit box, acquired for $5 at an antique store in the 1980s. The dealer was a friend of my father’s who revealed a woman brought them to the shop after discovering them at a recycling center in Boise, Idaho.

The story behind the man who owned them is unknown, though for several years, it was believed that he was the photographer, but the true creators are Earl Theisen, Bert Riesfeld, and countless others who photographed films like The Seven Year Itch for publicity. Others are convinced David C. Nolan was a publicist, as the backs of the images contain quotes and vital information, although, these are not typical statements and remain unattributed.

After editing and combining both sides of the photographs, I noticed details that were not apparent earlier. (DEAD) is written by a man who has aged significantly and has become unsteady. There are small, penciled dots along the back margins enabling Nolan to write in a straight line. Despite the perfection he strives to maintain, there are several spelling and grammatical errors.

In July 2011, I visited 104 Webster Street. It is now divided into a duplex and is one of the shabbiest houses surrounded by gentrification. I can only assume David C. Nolan was a lonely man whose obsessive behavior became evident while labeling his Marilyn Monroe collection. There is sadness in this activity that isn’t dissimilar from the life of the actress portrayed in these photographs.

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