“Still Life: Hollywood Photographs”

Whitney Museum Of American Art At Philip Morris

The lures of Hollywood movies, with their amalgam of stars, events, and luxuriant details, were seemingly insufficient to insure audience appeal. With the aim of cementing seduction, Hollywood studios in the postwar years churned out an endless stream of promotional stills, employing publicity departments and independent agencies to disseminate the images at large. These stills were used for posters, newspaper clips, and magazine reproduction; they displayed professional as well as supposedly intimate moments. Some show rehearsed and overheightened moments taken from feature films, while others are behind-the-scene views of life on the set. All display an exaggerated expression, an unconvincing artificiality that is retrospectively revealing.

“Still Life” contained some 44 of these color photographs, dating from 1940 to 1970. Organized by Diane Keaton and Marvin Heiferman, who edited the

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