Her death was more than 50 years ago at the age of 36, yet Americans have never ceased in keeping the spirit of this Hollywood icon alive. She struggled to balance her career and love life, marrying and divorcing three times, all the while unable to keep her private life out of the limelight. An exhibition, "Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon," highlights the many sides of this 1950s glamour goddess through the eyes of 50-plus artists at the Reading Public Museum. It opens Saturday and runs through Oct. 5.

The spark, sex appeal and sensation that was Marilyn Monroe is captured in the exhibition by such famed artists as Andy Warhol, Milton H. Greene, Cecil Beaton, Eve Arnold, Antonio de Felipe and Henri Cartier-Bresson, ranging from fashion photography to pop art. A first-look opening reception, by reservation, will be held Friday from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

The many sides of this immortal legend shine through in 115 works, which include shots of well-loved movie scenes and familiar publicity photos, biographical glimpses into private moments and various artistic interpretations of the starlet with paintings and videos.

Tom Kelley's series, the Red Velvet Photos, appeared in the first issue of "Playboy," while photographs by Frank Powolny, Laszlo Willinger and Alfred Eisenstaedt taken during those early days in Hollywood capture the beauty and sensuality of the actress in ways that would come to redefine sexuality in America.

Along with photos by Eve Arnold, Peter Stackpole and Bob Henriques, the exhibition includes a series of silver gelatin prints by world-renowned British photographer Cecil Beaton, including a photo reported to be Marilyn's favorite of herself – lying across a bed in a white dress, holding a carnation to her breast.

Photos from her film career, from 1947 to 1962, show the famous subway grate scene with Thomas Ewell in "Seven Year Itch" by Sam Shaw, and pensive, behind-the-scene shots by photographers Ernst Haas and Henri Cartier-Bresson on the set of "The Misfits," Marilyn’s last film.

Photographs like George Silk's tearful Marilyn illustrate how the actress was unable to keep her private life out of the limelight. Loneliness and frequent dark moods often were disguised in photos by George Barris of her light and radiance. Barris took some of the last photos of the actress who was found dead in her Brentwood, California, home on Aug. 5, 1962. Paintings and other work created after her death are by such modern and avant-garde artists as Mel Ramos and Antonio de Felipe.

The exhibition was organized by sairally Fine Arts & Consulting, Hamburg, Germany, and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.

For further info: readingpublicmuseum.org

Images: 'Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon'

Published: Aug 21 2014 12:09:33 PM EDT

An exhibition, "Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon," highlights the many sides of Marilyn Monroe through the eyes of 50-plus artists at the Reading Public Museum.

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Cecil Beaton, Marilyn Monroe, 1956/2005, Silver gelatin print, © Cecil Beaton Archive / Sothebys

ARTS ROUNDUP

The 162nd Great Allentown Fair opens Tuesday at 4 p.m., and runs through Sept. 1 (opening noon daily), with entertainment for all ages. Back from popular demand will be Matt's Family Fun, with talented mom and dad Matt and Linda heading the band comprised of their children. Also on the fair slate is Robinson's Pig Paddling Porkers, and Asian elephant Cora and her African counterpart Shannon. It's non-stop entertainment, rides and food daily throughout the fairgrounds.

Grandstand shows in the evening kick off with high-energy, hip-hop, Latin Grammy winner Pitbull on Tuesday, Motley Crue with special guest Alice Cooper on Wednesday, Lady Antebellum with special guest Joe Nichols on Aug. 28, Tim McGraw with special guest Jana Kramer on Aug. 29, Hunter Hayes with special guest The Swon Brothers on Aug. 30, Nickelodeon Jr. TV's The Fresh Beat Band on Aug. 31, and J&J Demolition Derby on Sept. 1.

The Allentown Fairgrounds is located between 17th and 21st streets, and Liberty and Chew streets.

For further info: allentownfair.com

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The aircraft Sea Harrier makes an appearance at the Sands Lehigh Valley Airshow on Saturday and Sunday at the Lehigh Valley International Airport in Hanover Township, Lehigh County. Entrance to the gates, which open at 9 a.m., is located off Race Street. Performances will run from noon to 4 p.m.

Other highlights include Misty Blues All Woman Skydiving Team, 4CE Aerobatic Team, Black Diamond Jet Team, Trojan Horsemen Demo 4-Ship Team, Gene Soucy and Teresa Stokes Wingwalker and Biplane Solo, and Canadian Harvard T-6 Aerobatic Team.

For further info: lehighvalleyairshow.com

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Allentown's summer concert series features The Royalaires and dancing under the stars on Friday from 8 to 10 p.m., at Cedar Beach, Hamilton and Ott streets, Allentown.

For further info: allentownpa.gov/community/events

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Artists are wanted for the "Handmade Holidays 5" exhibition running from Nov. 28 to Dec. 24, at Some Things Looming fiber arts gallery and studio, 526 Washington St., Reading. Deadline is Sept. 27.

For further info: somethingslooming.com

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