The World's Most Photographed
Yesterday we checked out “The World’s Most Photographed”, at the Bendigo Art Gallery.
This exhibition was organised by the National Portrait Gallery in London. With each subject, there is a cross section from different photographers prints.
It is a very good exhibition; actual prints from a few time frames are there.
Pictures of Queen Victoria, who I was reminded, ascended to the throne before photography was invented, is shown in some of the major happenings of her long life.
James Dean, including the iconic picture of him walking in the rain and with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. This actual picture is apparently of the same vintage as to when the picture was taken. It is the first time I have been able to physically see just how it was printed. I always thought there must have been a fair bit of darkroom manipulation, there is. Very interesting to see subtle dodging at work.
Marilyn Monroe was represented with some colour work, including her Playboy picture, some very interesting contact sheets.
Mahatma Ghandi, great and interesting set of pictures, including two pictures taken about 40 years apart by the same London studio. There is also the iconic picture of him spinning taken by Bourke White, an interesting story about how and what she had to do to be able to photograph him. He insisted she must learn how to spin herself, before he would allow her to photograph him.
Adolf Hitler had some very interesting pictures, many of which were colour. If I remember correctly, the official photographer for Hitler took about 2½ million pictures of him. Obviously there were plenty archival pictures to draw upon.
Elvis Pressley, interesting but I thought that in the main, the pictures didn’t convey much. One outstanding picture taken by a schoolboy in some place a very young Elvis appeared. The press photographers of the day were on strike and this schoolboy was the only person there with a camera.
Muhammad Ali, one really striking ring picture I had never seen, also some interesting background information on him.
Audrey Hepburn is in my eyes a delight to look at, her pictures told me she is still delightful to look at. There is really one stunning portrait of her, which is a darkroom montage. I think this picture of her would probably be the best image in the whole exhibition, with another one of her a close second. Very good to see the darkroom technique, which only gives up it’s secrets after careful scrutiny.
Greta Garbo, well I would say she may have been one of the most photographed persons, but I don’t think the cross section of prints on display helped her, in my eyes, to being worth it.
John Kennedy had some not so interesting pictures, although I was very interested in the contact sheet from the wedding to Jacqueline Bouvier. I couldn’t get over the size of the contact sheet prints. They were about 9 x 9cm Square. Whilst on the way home I surmised that they were probably an enlargement which was done by putting the negs into an 8x10” enlarger, then projecting them onto 12x16" paper, although I don’t think that paper is really available in the USA.
All in all, this exhibition left the three of us who went, satisfied that it was worth the effort of going.
This exhibition is on until the March the 25th.
Wow Mick that sounds like one of those rare treats. Contact sheets sometimes tell more than the finished prints. It sounds like a wide range of sizes. Was there any information on the photographers who took the pictures?
Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand
Curt, there was information on who took each photograph, sometimes there was a whole lot of information about the photographer and/or the actual session the shot was taken.
Perhaps the most interesting piece of information regarding a photo session, was one a photographer had with Audrey Hepburn, the session lasted for 48 hours.
There were contact sheets of quite a few subjects, Greta Garbo, was another one I remember, Marilyn Monroe was another. With the Marilyn Monroe contact sheet, one of the frames had been neatly cut out with a knife or scissors, one has to wonder why.
There was also a series of small prints taken of James Dean of him mucking around, with a coffin. Standing alongside (I think), sitting in, lying in, playing dead in, pretending to sleep in. Apparently, these were taken shortly before his death.
With Queen Victoria, there were two prints taken of her and her children, apparently she was displeased with one of the pictures so she erased her head with her thumb. Both of these actual prints were side by side. I'm going on memory here, but I think those prints would have been close to 140 or more years old. They were not silver gelatin prints, if I remember correctly.
Yes, it was an extremely satisfying exhibition.
48 hours with Audrey Hepburn??? Oh my god...
Originally Posted by Mick Fagan