The Black Marilyn is one of fifteen paintings by Robert Indiana that takes the actress Marilyn Monroe as its subject. Indiana began the work in 1967, the same year he painted his first Monroe themed work, The Metamorphosis of Norma Jean Mortensen. Identical in composition, The Black Marilyn employs a darker color scheme of puples against a black background. In both paintings an image of Monroe is surrounded by two rings, one containing her birth name and other the name she adopted as an actress. Also included are the years of her birth and death, ’26 and ’62.
Indiana completed The Black Marilyn over thirty years later, in 1998, inspired to return to the subject by the many books published around the thirty-fifth anniversary of the actress’s death, the death of Joe DiMaggio, and President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.