Ready for Their Close-up: Vintage Catalog Photos from Altman Galleries
These utilitarian photos record the diverse inventory of Hollywood’s Altman Galleries in the 1920s and 30s. Clearly the photographer paid scant attention to composition and made no concession to value or beauty.
In contrast to the banal warehouse setting, a crystal chandelier kneels on a rough wood floor. A dusty gilt mirror glances at the ceiling joists. A glamorous velvet-covered chair practically begs to be stroked.
The latent personalities of these inanimate objects were revealed to the camera and captured in glossy sepia prints. Candid and forthright, they’re more like headshots than still-lifes. From bit players to leading ladies, they silently wait to be chosen for a star-turn on a soundstage or a supporting role in the boudoir.
With a range of periods from Renaissance to Deco and styles from chateau chic to contemporary cool, Altman supplied whatever the myth required. Money was no object.
We see these pieces in their prime. But what has become of them 100 years later? Do they grace the homes of Hollywood royalty still, or have they been consigned to obscurity at the back of some second-hand furniture store? Worn-down and beaten-up, hoping for a comeback.
Sepia prints, 8” x 10,” gloss finish.
Mounted on linen backing with two-hole punch in a 1” wide binding strip.
Numbered, often with handwritten corrections in purple ink.
From the catalogs of the Altman Galleries, Hollywood, undated c. 1920s - 1930s
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