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Marlene Dietrich

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George Hurrell, American, (6/1/1904–5/17/92)
Marlene Dietrich, 1938
Gelatin silver print on paper
10 1/4 x 13 1/2 in. (26 x 34.3 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Gift of the Sisters of Browning '64 in honor of Mary Weis '64
Accession Number: 2015.7.1

Hurrell’s oeuvre as a premier Hollywood photographer reads like a roll call of the 20th century’s most iconic film stars. Working with the industry’s heavyweight studios, he shot dozens of the Golden Age’s biggest and most prolific names, including Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Hedy Lamarr, and Humphrey Bogart. The “glamour factor” that subsequently became synonymous with Hurrell’s work appears again here, in this portrait of Marlene Dietrich, of which only 190 prints were produced. Dietrich’s direct gaze and refined yet sensual repose—staged and rehearsed entirely at her behest—give off an aura of tremendous sophistication. The German-born actress is depicted at the peak of her career.

Allegra Cox, SCR 2018


George Hurrell produced the definitive Hollywood glamour shot, codifying the style during his decades long career—his later work included album covers for Queen and Paul McCartney. Marlene Dietrich had already cemented her superstar status, crafting a persona as an exotic German seducer (1901-1992) through her many film roles, and Hurrell’s photography heightens and reinforces this image through her confrontational gaze and the sleek texture of her flowing dress. But Hurrell did not simply aim to record the stars; he collaborated with them to produce their ideal public image. Hurrell found working with Dietrich a particular frustration, stating that she posed for every shot, making it impossible for him to capture a candid portrait. This photograph then is not just a glamorous shot with a famous star and famous photographer, but a product of contrasting authors, each with their own opinions on what made a star a star.

David Kuhio Ahia, PO ’18
Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Intern

signed and numbered on print recto

gelatin silver print

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