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PaperCity Dallas June 2024

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Rediscovery: Karl Struss at the Carter In these fractured times, we can all at least agree to indulge in beauty — especially if it involves the guilty pleasure of Hollywood. Kudos to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art for mounting "Moving Pictures: K a r l S t r u s s and the Rise of Hollywood" (through August 25). This deep dive into a talent ripe for rediscovery s h o w c a s e s a n artist whose career intersected two of the 20th century's foremost mediums: photography as an art form and cinematography By Catherine D. Anspon during the golden age of Tinseltown. Struss has not had a major museum show in almost 30 years, since the Carter's 1995 retrospective and book New York to Hollywood: The Photography of Karl Struss, so this exhibition feels like a revelation. Struss' tale and talent are brought to life via 100 images alongside ephemera, his Oscar, and film screenings; the mother lode of his archive resides at the Carter. With a lifetime that traversed the Victorian era (born 1886, New York City) to the phenomenon of Hollywood (died 1 9 8 1 , S a n t a Monica), Struss first rose to prominence when he played a key role in forging Pictorialism in photography. He studied at Columbia with Clarence White and showed in the 1910 Albright-Knox Gallery exhibition (now the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, Buffalo, NY) that became the calling card of the romantic Pictorialist movement. The same year, Struss was elected to pioneering photographer/ gallerist Alfred Stieglitz's Photo-Secession group. The second and most significant part of Struss' career began after his service in World War I: In 1919 he decamped to California and rapidly found work with film-industry titan Cecil B. DeMille. His Hollywood period was groundbreaking, exciting, and influential. An in-demand creative whose soft-focus lens craft produced a gauzy, ethereal effect, he entered the then-nascent scene as a cameraman, then cinematographer; he would go on to not only be a founder of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences but garner four Oscar nominations and a win for Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, (1927), an iconic film of the silent era. Along the way, he worked with actors as diverse as Gloria Swanson, Mary Pickford, Mae West, Bing Crosby, Frederic March, and Dorothy Lamour, and filmmakers including DeMille, D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, and Fred Niblo (Ben-Hur, 1925). For insider insights on why Struss' image-making resonates today, read our Q&A with curators Jonathan Frembling and Kristen Gaylord at Clockwise from top: Karl Struss' Gloria Swanson in Male and Female, 1919. Kenneth Alexander's Karl Struss with His Cinematography Oscar for the Film Sunrise (detail), circa 1929. Karl Struss' Gloria Swanson in Something to Think About, 1920. All photographs, collection Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

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