Screen icon back where it all began

By | Art & Design
Audrey Hepburn became one of the most recognisable women in the world. Credit@ drinks machine via

Film actors may be considered timeless, their work allowing them to last forever in society’s media and culture. Displays of emotion and human reality portrayed on film may create icons that last through generations. Whether it’s a chameleon ability to disappear into characters, or a singular genre-defining performance, actors may have the capacity to cement themselves into history and become unforgettable.

The National Portrait Gallery, has been a home to a large number of portraits since 1856. Housing the images of famous and iconic figures of British importance, it was the first of its kind to collect art focused more on the subject’s importance than on the quality or style of the artist. Expanded now into 3 external branches, the NPG has announced recently the unveiling of their newest exhibition.

From July 2nd to October 18th 2015, the National Portrait Gallery aims to host a varied and eclectic collection of rare photographic images of Audrey Hepburn. Audrey Hepburn – Portraits of an Icon aims to be NPG’s first major exhibition of this screen actress and aims to be hosted at the site of her career-changing performance 65 years ago.

In revues in the London nightclub Giro’s, renowned in its day as a platform for new theatre, a young Hepburn was cast in Cecil Landeau’s Petite Sauce Tartarein in 1949. A performance that had thrown Hepburn into the British film industry spotlight and help to propel her into her first film roles in One Wild Oat Laughter in Paradise and the Secret People. The building that used to house Giro’s, the cultural platform that supplied London with Hepburn and her sizzling theatre performance is located on Orange street, London;, which is now occupied by the National Portrait Gallery, making this rare exhibition all the more poignant.

Hepburn in one of her classic film roles.

Hepburn in one of her classic film roles.

The Portraits of an Icon exhibition aim to showcase photographs from Audrey Hepburn’s personal family album, home photography, behind the scenes captures and modelling extracts, aiming to provide a more detailed, intimate look into a film actress who became one of the most photographed and widely recognised women in the world. A rarely seen series of photos taken by Mark Shaw during the filming of Sabrina, 1954 are included in the gallery and aim to give an insight into Hepburn’s life off screen as Shaw was granted permission to behind the scenes access.

The exhibition aims to also include some of the most famous portraits of Audrey Hepburn by credited photographers and artists including; Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Angus McBean, Irving Penn and Norman Parkinson. Images of Hepburn throughout different stages of her life may theme throughout the exhibition; her as a young girl practicing ballet, a subject she was dedicated to, in her dressing room on Broadway for her title role in Gigi, 1951, in Italy during War and Peace 1955, extracts from magazine shoots and iconic moments that defined her career and status as a film star.

This London exhibition holds significant importance because its primary focus seems to be on aiming to capture the human essence of who this icon was. Photography pertains to engaging in the process of freezing the moment and this collection of images capture Audrey Hepburn being Audrey Hepburn, a personal, confidential glimpse into her human side rather than a performance she created for the lens. The Belgium beauty might be one of the most photographed women in the world; however this exhibition, in the building that helped to start her career, aims to provide a closer look into the woman who changed the face of sophistication and beauty.

Is photography the best form of capturing the human essence and emotion of a person?


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