In the Galleries
Glamour and style grace the Harry Ransom Center's galleries through two concurrent photography exhibitions running from January 11 through April 3, 2005. Both exhibitions examine photography's role in helping create celebrities, illustrating the power of image.
Shooting Stars: The Golden Age of Hollywood Portraiture, 1925-1950, focuses on the collaborative nature of the Hollywood studio system, which used "glamour photography" to create larger-than-life popular images of actors and actresses. In the 1920s, Hollywood studios discovered the importance of amplifying performers' presence, popularity, and money-earning potential by making them "stars."
The exhibition Fashioning Celebrity: Photographs of George Platt Lynes features a selection of photographs donated by Dora Harrison, Lynes's assistant from 1936 to 1944, the period in which Lynes was considered to be the most significant photographer of celebrity and style in America.
Harrison served as studio manager and photographer's assistant during the critical years when Lynes with his innovative style and mastery of lighting helped establish a new dynamic in fashion and portraiture for the New York City elite and such influential American magazines as Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, and Town & Country. Some of Lynes's notable subjects include Diana Vreeland, Jean Cocteau, Katherine Hepburn, W. Somerset Maugham, and Rosalind Russell.
Late spring and summer exhibitions turn peripatetic with a focus on cartography, travel literature, photographic images evoking a sense of place, fine bindings on the theme of flight, and documentary photographs of Russia's involvement in World War II.
The exhibition Images of the World: Maps, Globes, and Atlases (April 5-July 17) features early cartographic treasures from the Ransom Center's collections, including the first printed map of the world (1472), a portolan chart used by early Portuguese navigators, a manuscript map (1610) of the Virginia coastline, and two magnificent globes of the earth and sky by Vincenzo Maria Coronelli, as well as original correspondence by some of the pioneers of mapmaking.
A complementary exhibition, The Muse in Motion: Travel Literature through the Centuries (April 5-July 17) will feature historically influential travel books and manuscripts representing a wide array of countries, periods, and authors and will illustrate the universal currency of travel writing-its purposes, its utility, and its popular appeal. The travel literature on display will include early guide books and information about the search for the Northwest Passage and Americans in Europe.
Place: Photographs of Environment and Community highlights American photographers who have explored in their work over the past twenty years the notion of place. "Place" is space invested with personal meaning and complex relationships. While some photographers in this exhibition approach place through a consideration of particular rural or urban communities, others depict our interactions with the natural environment. The exhibition, in the Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Photography Gallery, runs April 19-July 17.
In Flight: Artists' Books, Fine Bindings, and Broadsides is a juried, traveling exhibition of fine bindings and calligraphy organized by the Guild of Book Workers. The show commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first flight in 1903. The exhibition concludes its tour at the Ransom Center and can be viewed May 10-July 17 in the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Gallery.
Finally, the Center is very pleased to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe with an exhibition of photographs recently donated to the Center that document Russia's involvement in the War, from Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union to the fall of Berlin. The Battle for the Eastern Front: Photographs from the Bill Broyles Collection, will feature dramatic images of war and liberation. The exhibition runs May 10-July 17 in the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Gallery.