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Nickolas Muray Celebrity Portraits

For the first time in Italy, Palazzo Ducale in Genoa presents a monographic exhibition of the famous Hungarian-born American photographer Nickolas Muray: a selection of more than 200 black and white and color images from the George Eastman House, the archives of "Vanity Fair" and Condé Nast and various private collections.

A photographic journey lasted about 40 years, beginning in the early twenties, when Muray received his first assignment by the prestigious magazine Harper's Bazaar and, after a few years, by Vanity Fair to become one of the most famous portrait photographers of America.

From 1920 to 1940 Muray made over 10,000 portraits including actors, dancers, movie stars, politicians and writers. Among the most famous photos are those to Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin, Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Carol Lombard, Anna Duncan, Marlene Dietrich, Martha Graham, Florence Reed, Gloria Swanson, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Claude Monet and Dwight David Eisenhower.

From the left: Marilyn Monroe, 1952 (Digital inkjet print. George Eastman House); Carole Lombard, 1936 (George Eastman House); Greta Garbo, 1929 (Gelatin silver print, George Eastman House).

From the left: Judith Anderson, about 1927 (Digital inkjet from the original negative, 2012. George Eastman House); Jean Harlow, 1929 (Gelatin silver print, George Eastman House); Katharine Cornell, 1932, Color print, assembly (Carbro) process. George Eastman House).

From the left: Florence Reed, around 1920 (Gelatin silver print, George Eastman House); Marlene Dietrich around 1935, George Eastman House; Gloria De Haven, 1947 (Digital inkjet print, reproduction 2012, George Eastman House).

From the left: Anna May Wong, 1937 (Color print, Collection of Amy Patrick, Houston, Texas); Elizabeth Taylor, around 1948 (Color print, assembly (Carbro) process. George Eastman House); Joan Crawford, 1939 (Color print, assembly (Crabro) process. Collection of George Eastman House).

From the left: Douglas Faibanks Jr. and Joan Crawford, 1929 (Gelatin silver print. George Eastman House); Anthony and Cleopatra, Fredric March, Claudette Colbert, Cecil B.De Mille. Coca Cola Advertisement, 1935 (Color print, assembly (carbro) process. George Eastman House).

From the left: Claude Monet, 1926 (Gelatin silver print. George Eastman House); Portrait of Mrs. Bertha Case, writer, 1932 (Color print, assembly (Carbro) process. George Eastman House); Rosa Covarrubias, around 1940 (Color print, assembly (Carbro) process. George Eastman House).

He also did fashion and advertising work. Muray's images were published in many publications, including VogueLadies' Home Journal, and The New York Times. A pioneering commercial photographer and acknowledged master of the 'Carbro' process, from 1930 onwards, Muray also created many advertising images which have become true icons.

From left: Ladies Home Journal, bath pool scene (left half of advertisement), 1931, Digital inkjet print, George Eastman House; McCall’s magazine (Style and Beauty cover), Fortune Teller, 1940, Color print, assembly (Crabro) process. George Eastman House;  Ladies Home Journal, bathing pool scene (right  half of advertisement), 1931, Digital inkject print (reproduction, 2012), George Eastman House.

From the left: Camel Cigarettes, 1931, Color print, assembly (Crabro) process. George Eastman House;  Camel Cigarettes, “Fun to See, More Fun to Know”, 1931, Color print, assembly (Carbro) process. George Eastman House; Camel Cigarettes, Girl in Pool, 1936, Color print, assembly (Carbro) process. George Eastman House.

From the left: McCall’s magazine (Homemaking section cover), 1941, Woman looking over shoulder into full – length mirror. Color print, assembly (Carbro) process. George Eastman House; McCall’s magazine (Style & Beauty cover), 1939, Color print, assembly (Carbro) process. George Eastman House; Table set for dessert, hands with silver utensils serving cake with ice cream, 1944, Color print, assembly ( Carbro) process. George Eastman House.

Among the events and the frequent visits of Muray, one of the most significant of his life was his meeting with Frida Kahlo in 1931 in Mexico, a meeting that resulted in a ten-year love affair and a friendship that lasted until the death of Frida in 1954. During the years of their love relationship, Muray photographed Frida more than any other person outside his immediate family.

From the left: Frida white blue satin blouse, New York, 1939, Color giclée print. Nickolas Muray Photo Archives; Frida with Magenta Rebozo, New York, 1939, Color giclée print. Nickolas Muray Photo Archives; Frida on white bench, New York, 1939, Color giclée print. Nickolas Muray Photo Archives.

Nickolas Muray's works have inspired many other artists, including Irving Penn, Diane Arbus and Annie Leibovitz. His unique style and his innovative techniques have earned him a place among the great masters of photography of the twentieth century.

The exhibition will be open until 8 February 2015, at the same time and in dialogue with the exhibition of some works by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

What:          Nickolas Muray Celebrity Portraits
Where:         Palazzo Ducale, Genoa, Italy
When:          16 October 2014 – 8 February 2015

(Images courtesy of Palazzo Ducale, Genova)