The Years of La Dolce Vita

While the journalist protagonist of Fellini’s 1960 film La Dolce Vita’s search for happiness proves futile, those seeking aesthetic joy will doubtless be luckier on visiting the exhibition of the same name, opening later this month in London.

Marcello Geppetti (1933-1998) Brigitte Bardot in Spoleto, June 1961

Source: MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

Marcello Geppetti (1933-1998) Brigitte Bardot in Spoleto, June 1961

The Years of La Dolce Vita will be on show at the Estorick Collection in Canonbury Square, north London, presenting 80 photographs exploring 20th century Italian cinema.

La Dolce Vita literally translates as ‘sweet life’, and on viewing the images on show, it’s a very fitting title for the exhibition.

Marcello Geppetti (1933-1998) Anita Ekberg driving a Mercedes, Rome, May 1962

Source: MGMC and Solares Fondazione delle Arti

Marcello Geppetti (1933-1998) Anita Ekberg driving a Mercedes, Rome, May 1962

The show uncovers the lives of Hollywood darlings and Italian film stars in Rome during the 1960s, a decade in which Italian directors including Michelangelo Antonioni, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Federico Fellini produced some of their most iconic work – including the Fellini film that lends the show its name.

Marcello Geppetti (1933-1998) Jane Mansfield and Mike Hargitay, Rome, September 1960

Source: MGMC and Solares Fondazione delle Arti

Marcello Geppetti (1933-1998)Jane Mansfield and Mike Hargitay, Rome, September 1960

Among the famous faces in the photographs are Brigitte Bardot, Jane Mansifeld and Sophia Loren.

Marcello Geppetti (1933-1998) Carlo Ponti, Sophia Loren and Vittorio De Sica, Rome, 1961

Source: MGMC and Solares Fondazione delle Arti

Marcello Geppetti (1933-1998)Carlo Ponti, Sophia Loren and Vittorio De Sica, Rome, 1961

A highlight is set to be this serenely romantic shot of Elizabeth Taylor an Richard Burton:

Marcello Geppetti (1933-1998) Richard Burton and Liz Taylor kissing in Ischia, June 1962

Source: MGMC and Solares Fondazione delle Arti

Marcello Geppetti (1933-1998)Richard Burton and Liz Taylor kissing in Ischia, June 1962

And this superbly nonchalant portrait from the set of La Dolce Vita:

Arturo Zavattini (b. 1930) Set of ‘La Dolce Vita’, Marcello Mastroianni

Source: Solares Fondazione delle Arti

Arturo Zavattini (b. 1930)Set of ‘La Dolce Vita’, Marcello Mastroianni

While many photographs are from behind-the-scenes of La Dolce Vita’s set, captured by cameraman Arturo Zavattini, others by Marcello Geppetti capture what the gallery dubs the ‘real-life dolce vita’ of Rome in the evenings, where the film stars went about the business of dining, drinking and ‘transforming Rome’s streets into an open-air film set’.

Arturo Zavattini (b. 1930) Set of 'La Dolce Vita'. Assistant cameraman Ennio Guarnieri, Nico Otzak and Federico Fellini, 1960

Source: Solares Fondazione delle Arti

Arturo Zavattini (b. 1930)Set of ‘La Dolce Vita’. Assistant cameraman Ennio Guarnieri, Nico Otzak and Federico Fellini, 1960

‘Together, these photographs vividly evoke an era of extraordinary glamour, creativity and decadence,’ says the gallery.

‘Yet [they] also challenge us to consider our response to the media¹s obsession with celebrity, the invasive nature of the images, and the “guilty pleasure” we take in them.’

The Years of La Dolce Vita runs from 30 April – 29 June at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, London N1 2AN www.estorickcollection.com   

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