Amazing Marilyn Monroe toast art in Shanghai
After wowing Hong Kong with his giant mosaic of Mona Lisa eating pink ice cream last August, Kiwi artist Maurice Bennett has amazed China once again with his yummy toast art. This time, he was in Shanghai with Marilyn Monroe (玛丽莲·梦露).
Dubbed the “Toast Art Picasso” by the media, the 54-year-old artist spent last week in Xintiandi Style shopping mall, piecing together Marilyn Monroe’s most classic portrait, with approximately 6,000 pieces of toast he had baked, painted and lugged all the way from his hometown Wellington.
“[This shopping mall] is all about fashion and glamour -- who else fits it better than Marilyn Monroe?” asked Bennett. “Besides, I’m a really big fan of her myself.”
Bennett had considered doing a toast portrait for the Chinese movie star Bingbing in Shanghai -- though he wasn’t sure himself whether it was Fan Bingbing (范冰冰) or Li Bingbing (李冰冰) that he saw in the movie -- but he finally chose Marilyn Monroe because, “I’m a westerner and Shanghai is international and progressive.”
Bennett not only brought the world-class art to Shanghai, but also showed a couple of Shanghainese students how to be a top artist.
Two 21-year-old university students, Yang Yunfan (杨云帆) and Zheng Qi (郑奇), acted as the toastman’s sidekicks on his Shanghai project from start to finish. Apart from assembling the toast according to Bennett’s colored draft, Yang and Zheng also helped paint the background color and coat the toast with polyurethane.
“I always like [hiring] students from design schools because it gives them an image of how art is, how much work is there, and it helps to pay their college fees or telephone bills,” said Bennett.
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Over the last 10 years, Bennett has included a long roster of celebrities and politicians in his toast art portfolio, including New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Barack Obama, Eminem and Elvis Presley.
Bennett’s first trip to mainland China witnessed his first attempt to create a colored toast art piece, and it can apparently “last forever” after being coated with polyurethane.
Apart from his new art piece, the former supermarket owner and now full-time artist was excited about trying two new things in Shanghai: bargaining at a market and eating some snake.
“Chinese people are known for their wide range of cuisines. I should have some crazy food here.”
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When asked about his plans after Shanghai, Bennett revealed he would stop by Hong Kong on his way back to New Zealand, checking the quirky Mona Lisa portrait in K-11 mall with what he called “a good business responsibility.”
The 12-square-meter Marilyn Monroe toast portrait is on display on the first floor of Xintiandi Style shopping mall for the foreseeable future.
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