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Installation of "Edward Steichen's Glamour Photography" shows Hollywood's Golden Age
Image of Mary Reynolds Babcock, the daughter of R.J. and Katharine Reynolds. The gown she is wearing is featured in the Reynolda House installation of Star Power: Edward Steichen's Glamour Photography.

WINSTON-SALEM, NC.- When the models in Edward Steichen’s “Vogue” and “Vanity Fair” cover photographs of the 1920s and ’30s were posing in fashions by Chanel and the House of Worth, the women of Reynolda were likely perusing the pages of those same publications, finding inspiration for their own wardrobes. Reynolda House Museum of American Art opened “Star Power: Edward Steichen’s Glamour Photography,” the museum is displaying dresses, hats, shoes and jewelry from the museum’s costume collection alongside Steichen’s iconic gelatin silver prints. The exhibition is on view Feb. 23-May 19, 2013.

“Katharine Smith Reynolds and Mary Reynolds Babcock had great appreciation for haute couture,” said Allison Slaby, the museum’s curator. “I think visitors will enjoy seeing images of gorgeous dresses, shoes and hats in Steichen’s photographs, and then seeing the actual dresses, shoes and hats that the Reynolds and Babcock women were wearing here in North Carolina.”

In addition to clothing and accessories, the museum will display objects from its decorative arts collection to complement Star Power. A Jean-Michel Frank director’s chair, and a torchiere and a dressing mirror from the 1920s will also be on view in the gallery.

“This exhibition demonstrates the breadth of our collections and highlights what makes Reynolda House a unique museum experience,” said Allison Perkins, executive director. “You can view an internationally exhibited collection of work by America’s first great modern fashion photographer and at the same time get an intimate glimpse of the family who once lived in this American country estate. It’s exciting that we can make these connections to our historic house collections.”

Considered some of the most striking creations of 20th-century photography, the more than 100 selected photographs in “Star Power” constitute a body of work of unequalled brilliance. Organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, the exhibition brings together Steichen’s Condé Nast portraits of luminaries from the worlds of politics, literature, government, journalism, dance, theatre, music, fashion and opera.

Steichen was already a famous painter and photographer on both sides of the Atlantic when, in early 1923, he was offered one of the most prestigious and certainly the most lucrative position in photography’s commercial domain―that of chief photographer for Condé Nast’s influential and highly-regarded magazines, “Vogue” and “Vanity Fair.”

For the next 15 years, Steichen would take full advantage of the resources and prestige conferred by the Condé Nast empire, putting his exceptional talents, prodigious energies and modernist sensibilities to work dramatizing and glamorizing celebrities such as Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, Gary Cooper, Martha Graham, Walt Disney, Greta Garbo, Fred Astaire and others.

The exhibition’s installation at Reynolda House will include 10 vintage magazines and a red curtain draping the entrance to the gallery. Several events are planned in conjunction with the exhibition, including extended hours to 8 p.m. on the first four Thursdays the exhibition is open.

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