Mesmerising photographs of movie stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood are among the pearls of a selection of iconic images on show in our new photographers’ gallery, up the stairs at Arte Algarve.
For many, the name Frank Worth will mean very little – but the burly photographer was in a class of his own when it came to celebrities.
He didn’t just see them as a means to an end studded with dollar signs. He saw them as friends, and consequently kept most of the extraordinary images he snapped of Hollywood legends in the 40s and 50s to himself.
He was the only photographer, for instance, who shot Marilyn Monroe showing her panties in that legendary scene where she’s posing above an entry to the subway system – and he showed the image just once, as Marilyn’s husband of the time, Joe DiMaggio had made a point of not wanting anyone to see his wife’s underwear…
Worth captured other stars in private moments – like James Dean talking on the phone while taking a pee. He caught Rita Hayworth happily sunbathing in her garden; Elizabeth Taylor doing her housework. Yet hundreds of images like these that could have earned him a small fortune, he kept as private as his personal life – a life in which he had affairs with a number of leading ladies, including Monroe and the then unknown actress, Jayne Mansfield.
As the years went by Worth gradually gave up photography and fell into poverty – but he steadfastly refused to sell the photographs of the people who had been his friends. Tragically, many of them were already dead: James Dean and Jayne Mansfield from separate car accidents, Monroe from a drugs overdose. The more those he had known entered into legend, the less Worth felt inclined to profit from their precious images.
It was only after his death in December 2000, that his cousin acting as executor found over 10,000 negatives in Worth’s apartment. A friend realised the potential value of the photos and formed a company to publish them. They were the subject of several heavily publicised exhibitions, including one in London in 2002 which Christie’s auction house described as “the most extraordinary collection of its kind for the past 50 years”.
These days the images are the property of Capital Art.com – a public company that is hoping to clinch film and book contracts. It has its sights on big name actors like Leonardo Di Caprio or Brad Pitt to play Frank Worth in a future film on the photographer’s life.
One of the Capital Art’s directors is Sean Goodchild, who has lived in the Algarve most of his life, and who has been instrumental in the exhibition now showing at Arte Algarve.
Among other images on show are a selection signed by well-known photographers Douglas Kirkland and Richard E Aaron. There is the famous photograph of David Bowie from the cover of his Aladdin Sane album – signed by the late Brian Duffy; even an image of Muhammad Ali, along with his boxing gloves.
For fans of collector’s item celebrity shots, the photos are all a must. They can be purchased framed, and some are also available unframed .
On show daily from 10am to 1pm and 3pm to 6pm, our photographers’ gallery is at the top of the stairs as you enter the gallery.