George Hurrell

Few people ever single-handedly start a revolution in a trend. George Hurrell was one of those rare gifted artists who revolutionized the types of pictures made of Hollywood stars. In 1929 at the age of 25, Hurrell, an artist turned photographer, forever changed the way cinema studios and the movie going public perceived many of the greatest stars of the '30s and '40s.  His highly stylized, sensual studio portraits of the great and soon to be great stars became the epitome of Hollywood glamour and mystery for a Depression-weary movie going public.

The slide show at right shows some examples
of George Hurrell's work

The incredibly dramatic use of light in his portraits not only created a new, exciting look in movie tableaus, but actually influenced the way movie sets were lit for the next two decades.  His ingenious use of a boom to place a light above his subject's head highlighting the hair was quickly adopted by all the major studios and remains to this day an important lighting implement in cinema, video and still photography.

Hurrell’s exhaustive retouching of negatives to eliminate unwanted facial and body blemishes and to enhance the subjects finest qualities continues to be a source of controversy among movie and art critics.  Each negative was painstakingly scrubbed and worked over with graphite powder smoothing away blemishes and unwanted lines.  What resulted was a stunning photographic transformation – a fantasy of beauty and perfection.  "The stuff dreams are made of" as one of Hurrell’s subjects is often quoted as saying (well, maybe not actually about the photography). 

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