via Justin Brown
I was busy hearting images over Weheartit one lazy afternoon when I came upon this image and I thought I’ve seen it somewhere before. It didn’t take long before I realized it was based from the iconic photo of a sailor kissing a nurse in August 14, 1945, the end of WWII. Alfred Eisenstaedt’s V-J Day in Times Square is certainly an iconic photograph we all love to swoon over. The photo in itself evokes emotions of celebration, victory and of course, love.
In New York’s Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt
as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers.
I made my short history research and learned that the couple in the picture was not a real couple. Apparently, one ecstatic (and drunk) sailor, upon hearing the news of Victory over Japan announced by then President Harry Truman, went strolling along Times Square, grabbing and kissing every female he comes across. This kiss he finally shared with a nurse has become more than a make-out candid shot throughout history.
Here’s a snippet from The Eye of Eisenstaedt:
“In Times Square on V.J. Day I saw a sailor running along the street grabbing any and every girl in sight. Whether she was a grandmother, stout, thin, old, didn’t make a difference. I was running ahead of him with my Leica looking back over my shoulder but none of the pictures that were possible pleased me. Then suddenly, in a flash, I saw something white being grabbed. I turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse. If she had been dressed in a dark dress I would never have taken the picture. If the sailor had worn a white uniform, the same. I took exactly four pictures. It was done within a few seconds.” -Alfred Eisenstaedt
Unconditional Surrender, the series of sculptures based on that iconic kiss has been created by John Seward Johnson way back in 2005 starting with a life-sized model made of bronze. It had its first 25 feet tall installation made of styrofoam in Sarasota, Florida by the bay front.
This sculpture has also brought together the real couple in the photo after years of anonymity and the number of individuals claiming to be them. Carl Muscarello and Edith Shain joined as celebrity guests at Times Square in August 14, 2005 where a host of couples re-enacted the beloved kissing scene. They were reported to have started dating since. After all these years, right?
Although for vintage lovers like me this sculpture would definitely lure me in and drench me in nostalgia, unfortunately this project has gone through rough times over the years. It encountered copyright issues with the V-J Day in Times Square, copyright owned by Alfred Eisenstaedt. It was regarded as an art lesser than kitsch and an eye sore by the Public Art Committee and was scheduled to be removed from the bay front. Despite that, the project has attracted a lot of tourists who excitedly took photos either kissing or looking up the nurse’s skirt. Here are a few examples.
Most importantly, it attracted more and more sponsors, which held it in place despite all the issues revolving around it. One I have read about was a WWII veteran who donated half a million to Johnson’s fund raiser. All was well until in April 26, 2012 when a car crashed straight into the sculpture and left a 3-foot wide hole in the sailor’s foot. No, it wasn’t from the art critics. I was an actual accident. Or so they say. It had to be removed eventually.
Thousands of dollars has once again been raised by people who believed in the national symbolism this sculpture represents. The iconic kiss, now a 25-feet bronze statue, can now be found in Tuna Harbor Park of San Diego, California, next to Bob Hope’s kitschy sculpture and a few others that the San Diego art community welcomed with open arms.
via Andrew Vox
Oh the romance. Bookmarking this for a future California tour.