Saturday, October 8, 2011

La Dolce Vita: 1950-1960 (Stars and Celebrities in the Italian Fifties at Eataly New York)

NOTE:  Reading this charming, enticing, badly-translated press release this morning unleashed the kind of nostalgia I only feel when seeing images of Anita Ekberg and Brigitte Bardot  in the 1950s.  My first encounters with both these actresses were slightly later, I think (probably initially as references in Mad magazine,which loved them both, but Ms. Ekberg particularly), but Brigitte, Anita and I have journeyed long and far together.  

Should I find myself in Manhattan while these photos are still being shown at Eataly at 200 Fifth Avenue, I will certainly stop in for an inspection and an expresso.   I love seeing exhibitions of interesting, artful work outside the formal precincts of museums or commercial art galleries.   Happy Saturday!

1959, Rome. Anita Ekberg with Shubert, the tailor of stars, at the Palazzo dei Congressi for the Maschera d’Argento awards. Before La dolce Vita, directed by Federico Fellini, Anita Ekberg was already a star. Miss Sweden in 1950, her stunning beauty and the producer Robert Hughes guaranteed her open doors in Hollywood. Her marriage to Anthony Steel in Florence, in 1956, hit the headlines and the glossy magazines presented her as the anti-Sophia Loren. By casting her, Fellini played safe and his choice proved right. Anita became a symbol and her name alone denotes an era.


        84 images, almost completely unpublished and shown for the first time to the American audience, pictures stolen to the next great international movie stars, and in the background, the Italy of the Fifties that reflects itself over the frenzy fans looking for autographs; rites, characters and personalities that would have rendered Italian Fifties a period of great charm and Italy itself an unique place in the world.

       All this is narrated in the exhibition La Dolce Vita. 1950-1960. Stars and Celebrities in the Italian Fifties, curated by Marco Panella, promoted by Ministro del Turismo, Cinecittà - Luce and Artix. After the success of its Roman preview last year, the exhibition will be shown from October 7th to November 14th 2011 at Eataly New York, the charming reign of the made in Italy on the Fifth Avenue.

       The 84 pictures, selected by the curator in the Archivio Storico Luce photographic funds, rebuild an era whose memory has become a peculiar sign of the Italy representation in the world.

       It’s Italy, a moment before it changes forever, that is represented in the pictures, narrated through charm and beauty, key lecture for telling a Country that, while following with passion celebrities scandals and gossip, looks confidently at the future and improves its social condition.

       Between the celebrities that in those years animated social life and charm in a Rome competing with Hollywood for the international star system, many Americans arrived with the majors that shot their Kolossal in Cinecittà.

       At the same time, many talented Italian actors and actresses – amongst the others Anna Magnani, Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Rossano Brazzi, Elsa Martinelli – crossed the Ocean in order to shoot in Hollywood; Italian cinema receives in those years, from the Academy Awards, the Oscar to Vittorio De Sica (1948, Sciuscià and 1950, Ladri di biciclette), Federico Fellini (1956, La strada and 1957, Le notti di Cabiria), Anna Magnani (1956, La rosa tatuata) and Sophia Loren (1962, La ciociara).

      “New York is an elective location for this exhibition” says Marco Panella “ ideal in order to witness and pay homage to that strong link that, in the Fifties, Italian habits and society has had with United States.” “Telling Italian Fifties – continues Panella – is like telling a Nation in its light-heartened youth; a charming and moving tale, sometimes naïve, everybody is fascinated by; a tale that keeps on rendering an extremely attractive image of our Country.”

       The exhibition, so suggestive in its powerful images, represents a promotional tool for travel in Italy, even more seductive for a demanding public, able to recognize, taste and appreciate the intense emotions of a. Dolce Vita images, proposed in a highly appreciated location as Eataly is, are an ideal tool able to motivate New Yorkers – so attentive to the Italian brand – to live an everlasting myth

1956, RomeBrigitte Bardot at a press conference at the Grand Hotel


  1. Curtis, nice lampshades in that bottom shot.

    We are enjoying this delightful post here in the pre-dawn dark, wondering what might possibly be in the mind of that bespectacled man seen to the right of BB...?

  2. Thank you. I wondered about that also. I really love these photos and photos like this generally. The first time Caroline and I visited Madrid together when we were still in our twenties, we had dinner at a lovely cave-like restaurant called La Baracca, which was reputed to have the best paella in the city. The walls were filled with shots that reminded me of these -- photos of people like Cary Grant, Prince Rainier, Tyrone Power, Gina Lolabridgida (sp.?) at play in Spain. All in black and white, the kind of thing that Hello! magazine occasionally does so well today if you can sort through the irrelevant material. Anyway, the photos and the thought of seeing more of them while drinking good coffee lifts my spirits. Curtis