The first in a series of three exhibitions, PERSOL MAGNIFICENT OBSESSIONS. 30 stories of craftsmanship in film uncovers 10 stories of obsessive craftsmanship within filmmaking.
The exhibits offer the opportunity to view rarely seen artifacts from some of cinema’s most iconic films, as well as behind the scenes research notes, sketches, video interviews and materials used in the development process by some of the world’s greatest filmmakers.
Curated by Michael Connor, Persol Magnificent Obsessions. 30 stories of craftsmanship in film aims to show whether making a film or a pair of sunglasses, it is only through the uncompromising drive for perfection that one can truly create a work of art. The exhibition will explore the many steps – from an actor’s immersion in character research to the meticulous detailing of a costume designer – to create an icon. Iconic characters, iconic sounds and visuals, iconic scenes, costumes, and props, the exhibition will showcase how each step can take hours, weeks or months of painstaking research and craftsmanship to develop.
This is a theme close to the heart of Persol, a brand that for nearly a century has been linked to the film, art and creative worlds, with a long tradition of Italian design, craftsmanship and engineering. Just as each film emerges from a team of individuals combining their talent, dedication and creativity, at the Persol factory in Lauriano, Northern Italy, every pair of sunglasses passes through the hands of at least 15 highly trained craftsmen, each making their own personal contribution. It takes a minimum of 30 steps to create a pair of Persols, each step carried out by hand.
Among the celebrated stories are those of Oscar-winning costume designer Milena Canonero, who designed hundreds of elaborate costumes for Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, taking the entire color palette from a box of macaroons. And director Terry Gilliam, not just for his creation of a timeless dystopian vision in Brazil, but for his dogged battle with the film’s US studio to see its release, and preserve its less than audience-friendly ending. The exhaustive preparation and dedication to the art of award-winning acting, performances by Robert De Niro (unhinged Vietnam War vet Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver) and Sir Ben Kingsley (Gandhi), are also examined through a series of artifacts, video exhibits and a large-scale installation.
The brand was born in Turin in 1917, just as cinema was entering its first Golden Age, and Persol sunglasses went on to play a lead role in some of Italy’s best known films, including La Dolce Vita and Divorce Italian Style. In 1968, Steve McQueen appeared on the set of The Thomas Crown Affair wearing his favourite Persol folding 714 sunglasses, making legends of both the actor and his eyewear. Other notable screen credits for Persol include The Getaway, Casino Royale, Die Another Day, North by North West, The American, Broken Flowers and Ocean’s Thirteen among many others.
Today Persol continues to champion contemporary cinematic excellence as a sponsor of the Venice, Turin and Tribeca Film Festivals, and is working in special partnership with the Museum of the Moving Image.
PERSOL MAGNIFICENT OBSESSIONS. 30 stories of craftsmanship in film exhibition in New York will be open to the public from June 17th until June 19th included.
After New York, the exhibition will travel in Paris late June and Milan late September.