Star Power: Photographs from Hollywood’s Golden Age by George Hurrell

March 1, 2024 – January 5, 2025
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Clark Gable and Joan Crawford by George Hurrell, gelatin Silver Print, 1936. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired in part through the generosity of an anonymous donor

National Portrait Gallery
8th and G Streets, NW
Washington, DC

1st floor, Corridor

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Widely regarded as the preeminent Hollywood portrait photographer of the 1930s and 1940s, George Hurrell (1904–1992) created definitive, timeless images of many of the most glamorous figures of filmdom’s golden era. Hurrell began his Hollywood career in 1930 as a photographer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio (founded in 1924) that claimed to have “more stars than there are in heaven.” With a keen eye for lighting effects and artful posing, he developed a style of presentation that magnified the stars and influenced popular standards of glamour. Advancing rapidly to become MGM’s in-house portraitist, he produced memorable images of film royalty, from Greta and Clark Gable to Spencer Tracy and Joan Crawford. He established his own studio on Sunset Boulevard in 1933, where he continued to photograph actors for MGM as well as those under contract with other major studios. After closing his studio in 1938, Hurrell concluded the decade as the head of photography for Warner Bros.

Selected from the National Portrait Gallery’s collection by senior curator of photographs Ann Shumard, this exhibition features golden-era portraits that reveal Hurrell’s skill in shaping the images of Hollywood’s brightest stars.