Celebrating Audrey Hepburn’s legacy on the 25th anniversary of her death, a new exhibition at Proud Galleries that opens on the 17th of September presents a retrospective look at the icon of the Fifties. Audrey Hepburn: Beyond the Screen is an exhibit of rare portraits of the actress captured by famed twentieth-century photographers: Terry O’Neill, Norman Parkinson, Bob Willoughby, Eva Sereny, Mark Shaw and Douglas Kirkland.
Audrey Hepburn became a style icon and an unforgettable figure of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Her filmography includes over 25 films, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Roman Holiday, My Fair Lady and Sabrina all among them. A string of awards to her name includes five Oscars, five BAFTA Awards, two Golden Globes and a Tony Award. Her charity work for UNICEF was rewarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and her legacy lives on with the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund co-founded by her sons Sean Ferrer and Luca Dotti in her name.
“She never forgot the chocolates and the outstretched hands – the little acts of kindness to children like herself… She wanted to give something back to the world,” said Sean, reminiscing his mother’s charitableness.
Although she’s been named the third greatest female screen legend alongside Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis, and the first woman to win an Oscar, a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe at once for her Roman Holiday performance, her beginnings that inspired her work are lesser known.
Born in Belgium in 1929 to a Dutch baroness and a British diplomat, she had ambitions of becoming a ballerina as a child. As Germany invaded the Netherlands during the World War II, her family suffered greatly as participants in the resistance. She moved to London in 1948 for a ballet scholarship, but ended up pursuing an acting career and was scouted during a performance of Sauce Piquante two years after. After impressing the director with her talent and beating Elizabeth Taylor to the part, her first leading role was that of Roman Holiday in 1953 that brought her widespread recognition in the acting world and led to a string of successful films. However, she always remained modest: although her movie star persona continues to charm millions of film fans, she accentuated her humility despite the enthusiastic reception and adoration.
“I never think of myself as an icon. What is in other people’s minds is not in my mind. I just do my thing,” she said in one of the interviews.
Beyond the Screen honours Audrey Hepburn’s life and position in the history of popular culture with a retrospection of her career, achieved through carefully selected photos taken by a handful of photographers – the iconic photoshoots as well as candid shots – that reflect her growth, as well as her timeless style and charm. The exhibition showcases Bob Willoughby’s portraits of Hepburn shortly after releasing the film that became her ticket to stardom, as well as Terry O’Neill’s instantly recognisable colour portraits. Her sense of style is further explored in fashion shoots of Norman Parkinson and Douglas Kirkland. The fans will get a peek behind the scenes, too: the exhibit includes candid photos of the actress taken from a LIFE magazine shoot in 1953 that detail her on-set preparations for Sabrina, as well as Eva Sereny’s shots that cast her camera lens on the actress during the filming of Always.
Audrey Hepburn: Beyond the Screen. 17th August – 30th September 2018, Proud Galleries/Proud Central, 32 John Adam Street, WC2N 6BP, London. Opening times: Monday to Saturday: 10am-7pm, Sunday: 10am-6pm. Free entry. Details: www.proud.co.uk.