Thursday, 21 July 2011

Glitterati, glamour and mystique

I wandered around the National Portrait Gallery’s Glamour of the Gods exhibition behind two elderly ladies, curiously amused by their oohing and aahing. Like teenage girls unable to keep a secret, they simply had to know the name of ‘that gorgeous chap on a motorbike’. I told them he was Steve McQueen, but was a little befuddled, as his photograph didn’t appear to be on display… They were reduced to a state that can only be described as ‘gaga’ by photographs of the male filmstars and celebrities of yesteryear – Elvis Presley had them in raptures...

Sharing their excitement was rather fun, though the seventy or so stunning vintage prints from John Kobal’s archive are probably enough to get anyone going. Dating from around 1920 to the 1950s, the images are of movers and shakers in the creative and performing arts, along with key members of the Hollywood glitterati.

And they are beautiful. With a beautifully illustrated catalogue to match. Though we’ve also a finely illustrated photography book at ShopCurious: Filmstar Portraits of the Fifties (published in 1980), has no fewer than 163 glamorous photographs of the stars – introduced and edited by none other than John Kobal himself.

It’s strange, but today’s stars do absolutely nothing for me. Yesterday, Nespresso sent an email to ‘follow George Clooney in Costa Rica.’ I can think of nothing more dull – especially as I rarely ever drink coffee. Yet I could look at the glamorous photographs in this exhibition all day. Perhaps it’s about more than just glamour… I suspect being ‘godlike’ has quite a lot to do with the curiosity factor.

Do you?


Jan said...

Oh I do like George, but Godlike he isn't.
I'm curious as to why those mature ladies didn't know who they were looking at.
I mean, if they were teenagers I could understand it.

worm said...

I think the key word is 'mystique' isn't it? Todays Clooneys haven't got much, seeing as we're invited to watch them go on holiday with a branded coffee machine...