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Nelson-Atkins Exhibition Explores Photography and Fame


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									                 Nelson-Atkins Exhibition Explores Photography and Fame

                     Exhibition of Notable Photographs Opens March 8

                              KANSAS CITY, MO, Dec. 19, 2007 – Opening March 8, The Nelson-Atkins
                              Museum of Art will present, In the Public Eye: Photography and Fame. This show
                              will span the 19th -21st centuries, featuring notable figures from politics, art,
                              science and entertainment, as photographed by some of the most respected
                              photographers in the medium’s history. The exhibition will be on view
                              through June 15, 2008. There is no admission charge.

                              ―Fame and photography came together on an unprecedented scale beginning
                              in the mid-nineteenth century,‖ notes Jane Aspinwall, Assistant Curator of
                              Photography. ―Photography brought together and defined the best and
                              greatest, widening the field of those most admired in society to include actors
                              and actresses, writers, poets, artists, politicians, and sports figures.‖

In the Public Eye Overview
In the Public Eye includes a broad range of celebrity subjects from the 1860s to the present, including Sarah
Bernhardt, Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Duke Ellington and Martin Luther King. Photographers
capturing famous individuals include Edward Steichen, Irving Penn, Andy Warhol and Annie Leibovitz.

Technological advancements like the carte-de-visite enabled an initial mass proliferation of celebrity images
in the second half of the nineteenth century. The invention of the motion picture, the rise of the popular
press, and magazine photography further propelled the cult of celebrity into the next century. Smaller, hand-
held cameras like the Leica, introduced in the 1920s, enabled photographers to capture candid, spontaneous
moments that revealed a voyeuristic aspect to celebrity photographs.

Throughout the twentieth century, relationships between photographers, their subjects and the public
became more complex. The public increasingly desired an inside glimpse of the celebrity; one that would
reveal inner personality. Photographers such as Arnold Newman realized this desire by photographing his
well-known subjects in controlled settings, making use of visual elements that emphasized their professional

Some photographers became celebrities in their own right, through their portraits of famous personalities.
To have a portrait taken by a notable photographer such as Irving Penn or Richard Avedon--who changed
the look of fashion and celebrity portraiture in the 1950s and1960s – could make a career. Annie Liebovitz,
who got her start at Rolling Stone magazine and later worked at Vogue and Vanity Fair, continues to make
some of the wittiest and most powerful images of prominent figures in American popular culture.

In the Public Eye reflects the current fascination with fame that has
captivated society for more than a century. Andy Warhol, whose famous
declaration that ―in the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen
minutes,‖ speaks presciently to our current age of ―do-it-yourself‖
celebrity. Indeed, the popular allure of reality television, You Tube, and
MySpace.com have solidified the notion, begun well over a century ago,
that becoming famous simply to be famous—as opposed to achieving fame
through some skill or achievement—holds tremendous appeal in our
current cultural climate.


The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is recognized nationally and internationally as one of
America’s finest encyclopedic art museums. The Nelson-Atkins serves the community by providing access
and insight into its renowned collection of more than 33,500 art objects and is best known for its Asian art,
European and American paintings and modern sculpture. Housing a major art research library and the Ford
Learning Center, the Museum is a key educational resource for the region and a national model for arts
education. The Nelson-Atkins’ expansion is also leading a field of new investments in local cultural
infrastructure that is becoming known as Kansas City’s ―$6 Billion Renaissance.‖

The recently completed 165,000-square-foot Bloch Building by Steven Holl Architects was a major
milestone in the transformation of the Nelson-Atkins. The multi-year project included renovation of the
original 1933 Nelson-Atkins Building and expansion of the Museum’s renowned Kansas City Sculpture Park
and continues with renovations to the American and American Indian galleries as part of the reinstallation
of the encyclopedic collection. The expansion increased Museum space by 71 percent, providing new
galleries, educational facilities and Museum-support spaces. The Museum raised more than $200 million for
the renovation and expansion, and $170 million to grow the endowment fund. The expanded resources
ensure that the institution continues to attract and engage the next generation of audiences and is equipped
to present and interpret the art of the past, present and future.

The Nelson-Atkins is located at 45th and Oak streets, Kansas City, Mo. Hours are Tuesday–Wednesday, 10
a.m.–5 p.m.; Thursday, Friday, Saturday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.– 5 p.m. Admission to the
Museum’s collection is free to everyone. Additionally, newly produced audio guides are free for visitors,
presenting art & architecture tours, overall collection highlights, and featured exhibitions tours. For Museum
information, phone 816.751.1ART or visit nelson-atkins.org.


For media interested in receiving further information, please contact:
Lara Kline
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Image Credits:
Page 1: Carl Van Vechten, American, 1880-1964. Anna May Wong, April 20, 1932. Gelatin silver print. Gift of
Hallmark Cards, Inc., 2005.27.4455. Courtesy of the Van Vechten Trust.

Page 2: Martin Schoeller, American, b. Germany, 1968. Iggy Pop, 2001. Chromogenic print. Gift of the Hall Family
Foundation, 2007.32.7.

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