National Portrait Gallery
- “Marlene Dietrich: Dressed for the Image”
- Marlene Dietrich was an influential public figure because she defied the standards of feminism and lived her life boldly and unapologetically. The National Portrait Gallery exhibit in her honor showcases these qualities and tells the story of her life in photographs. The photo of Dietrich’s legs is my favorite because it evokes a feeling of mystery within the viewer. The photographer, Milton Greene, composed the photo with Dietrich placed in ⅓ of the frame, while her legs extend the length of the photo. The fact that the photo is in black and white and her face is hidden behind her hair is what makes the photo so mysterious and provocative. In another instance of Dietrich displaying her provocative nature, the photo taken by Irving Haberman shows her being lifted up to kiss a soldier hanging out of a ship. According to the description, this photo was taken as the troopship Monticello returned in August 1945. Although the photo is not perfectly aligned or composed, it still captures the emotion of the scene and perpetuates the happiness that those soldiers were experiencing in that moment. I also appreciate this photo because I love to look at black and white old fashioned photos because of the nostalgic feelings that they simulate. Photos like this remind me of a book I once owned that was filled with formal portraits from the early 1900’s that featured subjects that almost looked like porcelain dolls. For this same reason, my third favorite photo from the exhibit is the Dietrich family photo (photographer unknown). Her father is wearing a uniform that reveals his status as a Prussian officer and the women are wearing victorian-style dresses and bonnets. The family is centered in the photograph and they are all looking in different directions. Viewing these photographs has reminded me how much I used to love using my old film camera and I will definitely start to use it more often than I have been so I can create timeless black and white photographs like these ones.