The eighth Düsseldorf Photo Weekend took place in the city from 8 to 10 March 2019, featuring exhibitions, film screenings, artist talks and lectures. Included in this year’s programme was the exhibition Eine Hollywood-Göttin as Düsseldorf (A Hollywood Goddess from Düsseldorf): 61 photo-portraits of Luise Rainer from the collection of Michael Blatow.
First shown at the academy in October 2018, the exhibition was repeated at the Internationale Musikakademie Anton Rubinstein for the city’s photo-weekend and included 61 images of Luise from the 1930s and 1940s mixing MGM publicity shots with film stills and more candid images. The photographers whose work was shown were: Clarence Sinclair Bull, Ted Allan, Carl von Vechten, Florence Vandamm, William Edward Cronenweth, George Edward Hurrell, Lásló Willinger and Durward Graybill. To accompany the exhibition there was a programme of live classical music performed by student of the academe during the course of the weekend.
The inclusion of this exhibition of photographs marks a resurgence of interest in Luise in her home nation. Her contribution to cinema was overlooked for many years, most notably marked by her absence in the first tranche of honourees for Berlin’s Boulevard des Stars in 2010 – she was honoured, and appeared in person to unveil her star in September that year, but only after a concerted campaign to have her included. Her small part in the national cinema of Germany is insignificant, with most of her work taking place in the USA, but since her death there has been a rediscovery of Luise, with artefacts and costumes from her MGM films on display in the capital’s film museum and, in 2017, the renaming of a street in her home town: Luise-Rainer-Strasse. This exhibition marks a new recognition of Luise and her legacy in the city in which she was born.