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Hollywood Icons starts its world tour in July 2016

Marlene Dietrich by Eugene Robert Richee, 1932 | Charles Boyer by Robert Coburn, 1938 | Lana Turner by Madison Lacy, 1937 | Ava Gardner by Clarence Sinclair Bull, 1948

The John Kobal Foundation (London) and TE (Lisbon) are pleased to announce the Hollywood Icons exhibition will start its world tour in Italy, opening in Villa Manin (near Venice) in July 2016, with scheduled dates for the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome in spring 2017.

The exhibition consists of a display of 161 portraits of the greatest names in the history of cinema, from silent film stars such as Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford, to great names in the era of sound cinema, such as Marlene Dietrich and Cary Grant, and ending with some of the giants of the post-war period, such as Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.

The history of cinema is usually written from the point of view of actors and directors, with little attention paid to the enormous efforts required to create films for the big screen. The exhibition Hollywood Icons presents the often neglected photographers who, working silently behind the scenes, produced glamorous photographs that were essential for the creation of movie stars and for the promotion of films. Thousands of images distributed by Hollywood studios during the golden years of cinema were the result of the efforts of these photographers, who worked quickly and effectively to promote Hollywood style around the world. It is fair to say that George Hurrell played a key role in creating Joan Crawford’s compelling presence on the big screen. The same can be said of the unforgettable image of Garbo created in Ruth Harriet Louise’s photography studio. This exhibition features the work of more than 50 photographers, including Clarence Sinclair Bull, Eugene Robert Richee, Robert Coburn, William Walling, Jr., John Engstead, Elmer Fryer, Laszlo Willinger, A.L. “Whitey” Schafer and Ted Allan.

Better than anyone, John Kobal understood the importance of these Hollywood images. From his beginnings as a film enthusiast, he went on to become a journalist, a writer and, before his premature death in 1991 at the age of 51, was recognised as one of the most remarkable film historians. More than anything, his reputation is based on his pioneering work through which he revived the career of some of these masters of photography from the classical Hollywood era.

From the end of the 1960s, Kobal worked to gather these forgotten artists with their original negatives, encouraging them to make new photographic enlargements for exhibitions that he himself organised around the world in spaces such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and the National Portrait Gallery in London; the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC; and the LA County Museum of Art in Los Angeles.

Many of these images, along with the original vintage studio photographs, belong to the John Kobal Foundation and form the core of this exhibition that honours the masters of classical cinema photography.

The exhibition will be held in Villa Manin between July and October 2016 and at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome between June and September 2017.

Learn more about this exhibition here.