Hollywood Icons at Palazzo delle Esposizioni

Hollywood Icons Grace Kelly and Clarence Sinclair Bull
Grace Kelly and Clarence Sinclair Bull at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Culver City, by Virgil Apger, 1956 © John Kobal Foundation

The Golden Age Revisited

The glittering and glamorous classical Hollywood era is a period in filmmaking history that has dazzled cinephiles throughout the 20th and 21st centuries and this summer, the stars of this golden age are being brought to Rome.

Hollywood Icons Alfred Hitchcock
Director Alfred Hitchcock by Ernest Bachrach for Notorious, 1946. RKO © John Kobal Foundation

The Hollywood Icons: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation exhibition at Palazzo delle Esposizioni is a treasure trove of leading ladies and heroic heartthrobs from the heyday of the silver screen.

Hollywood Icons Gary Cooper
Gary Cooper by Bud Fraker for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, 1936. Frank Capra Productions/Columbia Pictures © John Kobal Foundation

John Kobal was a journalist, writer and cinema enthusiast and it is thanks to his rediscovery of forgotten Hollywood photographers that such a sumptuous selection of portraiture, film stills and backstage snapshots have been made available to us today. What Kobal noticed, and what is a central theme to the retrospective, is that in documenting film history, we must note the often-overlooked contribution of the photographers responsible for launching ordinary aspiring actors and actresses into the dizzying Hollywood heights.

Hollywood Icons Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn by Bud Fraker for Sabrina Fair, 1954. Paramount Pictures © John Kobal Foundation

It is with this in mind that Simon Crocker and Robert Dance curated some 160 images from the John Kobal Foundation to compose the Hollywood Icons retrospective. With a clean-cut, chronological division into decades the viewer can follow a progressive sequence starting with the 1920s sensations such as Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin. The ‘30s present us with Joan Crawford’s evolution into a dramatic diva, elegant close-ups of big screen superstars Clark Gable and Cary Grant plus Ernest Bachrach’s refinement of a theatrical Katherine Hepburn. Clarence Sinclair Bull splashes some colour into his 1940s portraits and the ‘50s provide an array of the starlets who epitomised Hollywood glitz and glamour: Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. The expo comes to an end all too soon with the post-war greats of the 1960’s, notably Italy’s own Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.

Hollywood Icons Paul Newman
Paul Newman by Bert Six, 1954. Warner Bros © John Kobal Foundation

Also displayed are some of Kobal’s written works as well as letter correspondences and television interviews. Thanks to all of the great works on display, Hollywood Icons provides a rare, behind the scenes insight into this nostalgic epoch and moreover, cleverly brings those behind the lens to centre stage.

Hollywood Icons. Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation.

Till 17 September
Palazzo delle Esposizioni
Via Nazionale 194
Open Sun-Thurs, 10am-8pm; Fri- Sat, 10am-10.30pm; closed Monday
Summer opening hours from 18 July to 27 August:
Sun-Fri 12pm-8pm; Sat 12pm-11pm; closed Monday
Entry fee: €6-8

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