From Publishers Weekly
Greta Garbo's film career began in Sweden in 1923 and ended in Hollywood in 1941. While she took a professional approach to doing photographs on the sets and in the portrait studio, she did little else to aid MGM's publicity department. Traveling under false names, she avoided interviews, premieres, parties and nightclubs. With no off-screen publicity materials, the public pictured her through the lens of "MGM's portrait giants," Clarence Sinclair Bull and Ruth Harriet Louise. New York art dealer Dance, who did a book on Louise three years ago, notes that these two photographers "shaped the look and persona of Garbo that was marketed to audiences in the 1920s and 1930s and endures today." Garbo saved their lush and creamy original prints, radiating glamour, and passed the photos on to her family. The work of Bull, Louise, George Hurrell, Edward Steichen and other photographers receives lavish presentation here, along with family pictures and candid shots previously seen only by Garbo's closest friends and relatives. Reisfield, Garbo's grandnephew, covers her life from Stockholm to New York, while Dance delivers an informative essay on the image makers and their rapport with Garbo. However, even readers with good eyesight may find the faded tan typeface difficult to read. (Sept.)
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September 18, 2005, is the centennial of the birth of Greta Garbo, who became the archetypal movie star by being personally inaccessible (her most famous line of dialogue, from Grand Hotel, is "I want to be alone") but photographically ubiquitous. Informal images are scarce in her grandnephew Reisfield's selection from her archives: two pictures of her in train cars, two full-length snaps of her in sports clothes, two travel pictures, two press photos of public appearances, and an image of her mentor, director Mauritz Stiller, reclining with a cat. The rest are exquisite studio portraits and polished production stills, most of them taken by, respectively, her favored portraitist, Clarence Sinclair Bull, and her preferred on-set photographer, Milton Brown. The work of other hands--Bull's fellow Hollywood portraitists Ruth Harriet Louise and George Hurrell (whose approach to Garbo, Dance says in the accompanying history and assessment of the pictures, is too objective), Edward Steichen, Nicholas Muray, Cecil Beaton, and Arnold Genthe--also appears. Truly, Garbo's was the face of a century. Ray Olson
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