Lot Details

"Norma Shearer (As Marie Antoinette)" (1994) is a rare and exciting gelatin silver print photograph by famed Japanese Contemporary photographer, Hiroshi Sugimoto, which belongs to his rare series of images of wax museum figures. This series continues Sugimoto's on going exploration of themes of the passing of time, memory and natural history, in a unique manner. Sugimoto captured this image in the "Movieland Wax Museum", which was the largest wax museum in the United States and hosted over 10 million visitors during it's 43 years in business, before closing the doors in 2005. Closely related to his series of museum dioramas, these images, in which the nature of the photograph, the lighting used, as well as the image composition, create ambiguity that fosters intellectual exploration. The viewer is compelled to ask, Is this a photograph of Marie Antoinette? Is this a photograph of an actress playing Marie Antoinette? Is this a photograph of a wax museum image of an actress playing Marie Antoinette? And what does this ambiguity mean about time, memory, reality, and history?

Norma Shearer is a fascinating figure. She was married in 1927 to the "boy wonder" film producer Irving Thalberg, who tragically died in 1936 as he was working on the pre-production for the film "Marie Antoinette" (1938) in which Shearer starred as the French Queen. From the mid-1920s until her retirement in 1942, Shearer was one of Hollywood's leading ladies, along with her rival on the MGM lot, Joan Crawford. While largely forgotten for many years, today, Shearer is being rediscovered through the lens of our modern sensibilities as "the first American film actress to make it chic and acceptable to be single and not a virgin on screen" (film critic Mick LaSalle).
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Provenance:
  • The Artist. Present Collection, U.S.
  • Pickup Location: California, USA
  • Shipping Dimensions: 29 x 34 in. (73.66 x 86.36 cm.)
  • Framed Under: Glass

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