Photography | Hollywood & Berlin in Detail

Hollywood in Style: a homage to the icons of film
Camera Work, Berlin, Germany. Until 4th March, 2012
Robert Polidori
CWC Gallery, Berlin, Germany. Until 21st April, 2012

Based in the well-to-do Charlottenburg area of Berlin – one of the most galleried cities in the world – Camera Work is regarded as one of the world’s top 10 photography galleries. Named after the legendary, quarterly photographic journal published in New York by Alfred Stieglitz from 1903 to 1917, the gallery opened its doors in 1997 and has a well-earned reputation for presenting the work of many photography greats: Man Ray, Irving Penn, Peter Lindbergh, Peter Beard, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus and Helmut Newton, but also for exhibiting young, up-and-coming artists.

The Kennedys archive, part of Camera Work’s permanent collection is a wide-ranging compilation of photographic work, official documents, private documents, and memorabilia of the Kennedy family. First put on show at the Camera Work building in 2004, it now has its own premises where, on the occasion of The 62nd Berlin International Film Biennale, Camera Work is exhibiting Hollywood in Style – much of the content also belonging to the gallery’s collection –  a photographic homage to the icons of film. Archive images by Edward Steichen and Horst P Horst that testify to the glamour of the screen legends of Hollywood’s Golden Age: Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly striking characteristicly elegant poses, are juxtaposed against more ballsy shots of 1950s bad boys James Dean and Marlon Brando. A sexy Sophia Lauren exemplifies the free spirit of 1960s movies; Jack Nicholson, the characterful 70s and 80s, while the distinctly sensual, provocative and style conscious stars of today: Angeline Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, Christian Bale and Johnny Depp, are captured by contemporary photographers: Nadev Kander, Annie Leibovitz and Anton Corbijn.

Emerging from the same stable, a second gallery CWC – Camera Work Contemporary, housed in a former Jewish girls’ school – opened last week in Berlin’s Mitte district, home to the city’s major internationally famous art galleries and will, alongside contemporary photography, exhibit large-scale retrospectives in painting and sculpture, as well as conceptual group exhibitions. As its debut, CWC presents Polidori, a major showing of the work – including some seen here for the first time – of the substantial oeuvre of the Canadian-born photographer, Robert Polidori, born in 1951, who lives in New York and Paris and has achieved international success via substantial photo stories in magazines such as The New Yorker, Architectural Digest, Geo and Vanity Fair. His work has been shown by numerous galleries and is also featured in the collections of several museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal and the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. Famous for the extremely high level of detail in his photographs – literally nothing is left unsharp – the selected images, which on the surface appear as straightforward architectural and urban scenes – Gallery of the Battles, Chateau de Versailles, 1985 – Unit 4 Control Room, Chernobyl, 2001 – View of Central Park from the East, New York City, 2004 – possess the unnerving quality of drawing the viewer ever further in to examine and question each detail in turn and to puzzle endlessly over their relationship to one another and to the whole.

Images from top
Jeremy Irons with Monicle, London, 1990
© Michel Comte

Michel Anguir by Jacques D’Agar, 1675. Salle la Surintendance de Colbert,
Salles du XVII, Aile du Nord – RDC, Chateau de Versailles, 1984
© Robert Polidori

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