Two New Photography Shows Explore the Culture of Celebrity

Hilary Swank by Norman Jean Roy

Photo: © Norman Jean Roy

Iconic celebrity images are on display as part of two complementary photography exhibitions now under way at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The ROM’s presentation of “Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs From 1913-2008” includes close to 150 photographs of stars such as Madonna, Tom Cruise, Bette Davis, Ernest Hemingway, Louis Armstrong, and Cary Grant. The exhibit, created to celebrate the 95th anniversary of Vanity Fair’s founding in 1913, includes works by photographers Cecil Beaton, Edward Steichen, Mary Ellen Mark, Mario Testino, and Annie Leibovitz. The exhibit is a collaboration between Vanity Fair and the National Portrait Gallery, London.

The AGO’s exhibition, “Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, the Condé Nast Years, 1923 to 1937,” features the work of the onetime chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair. The exhibition pulls together more than 200 photographs, showcasing Steichen's role in shaping fashion and celebrity photography during the 1920s and '30s. The show was organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis, and the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland, in collaboration with the AGO.

Both exhibits opened Saturday and continue through January 3. Both venues offer group rates and customized and guided tours are available. Patrons who visit one exhibit will receive 20 per cent off the general admission to the complementary exhibition.

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