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Hollywood Art Moment: A Look at the 'Four Ladies' Gateway

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The "Four Ladies of Hollywood" (nito / Shutterstock.com)
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Chances are you've walked, biked, or driven past it a few times in the past couple of decades, but do you know the symbolism of or who created the silver "gazebo" at the corner of Hollywood and La Brea?

Called the "Four Ladies of Hollywood," the public art was created in 1993 by production designer and director ("Twilight," "Thirteen,") Catherine Hardwicke, and was dedicated February 1, 1994.

The art deco-style sculpture represents the diversity of women in Hollywood, and depicts actresses Dorothy Dandridge, Anna May Wong, Dolores Del Rio, and Mae West. And, technically, it's got five women; on the very top is Marilyn Monroe, depicted in her famous skirt-blown-up scene from "The Seven Year Itch."

Unfortunately for Hardwicke and the sculptors who did the work, the L.A. Times' art critic, Christopher Knight, hailed the "Four Ladies" as "the most depressingly awful work of public art in recent memory." Ouch. Why so harsh? Well, in addition to what Knight saw as its aesthetic failings, he also thought it poorly represented its intended theme:

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Instead, the four voluptuous variations on a glamour-girl theme celebrate the idea that the power in movies that goes to women is confined to sexual power. Multicultural sexism certainly counts as a new twist on an old theme, but you'd be hard pressed to describe it as an improvement.

Hardwicke volleyed back in an op-ed that Knight pretty much didn't have a sense of humor, or understanding of the restrictions her design had place on it.

If you didn't know the backstory about the "Four Ladies," next time you pass by, take note if it makes you smile...or laugh.

Hooray for Hollywood!