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George Hurrell

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George Hurrell
(1904 - 1992)

George Hurrell was born in Covington, Kentucky, studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and learned to make photographs as studies for his paintings. (1) In 1925 he journeyed to Laguna Beach, California, to paint and soon fell into making photographic portraits of friends in the motion picture business. His photographs of Florence Leontine Lowe Barnes (known as Poncho Barnes) led to sittings with Ramon Novarro, a silent film star, and Norma Shearer, an actress whose husband, Irving G. Thalberg, hired Hurrell to make portraits for Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) in 1930. Hurrell headed MGM’s portrait department for two years, developing a distinctive style of glamour photography and portraying all of the studio’s stars, including Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, and Greta Garbo. A dispute with MGM’s publicity director prompted Hurrell to open his own studio on Sunset Boulevard, where stars flocked for Hurrell’s glamour treatment. During World War II, Hurrell served with the motion picture unit of the U.S. Army and in the early 1950s he relocated to New York to shoot advertising and fashion photos. He returned to Hollywood in 1956 to start a television production company and later went back into the film industry. Hurrell’s photographs were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in 1956 and published by the John Day Company in The Hurrell Style in 1976, the year he officially retired. Hurrell continued to photograph selected portrait subjects and to promote special edition prints of his work up until the time of his death in 1992.



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