Monaco’s Consulate General and Tourist Office in New York is currently hosting a fascinating photographic retrospective, Timeless Monaco, at The Forbes Galleries on Fifth Avenue. A combined presentation of two exhibitions – Monte-Carlo Legends and Forever Monte-Carlo – it celebrates the elegance, style and allure of Monaco, which has endured since the Principality was first frequented by the social elite of Europe in the latter years of the 19th century.
Extravagant, sparkling, ever fashionable and ultra sophisticated, Monaco has over the years become a key destination for mariners and millionaires, princes and playboys, stars and celebrities, a meeting place of choice for international high society – retaining every ounce of its elegance and style to this day.
Monte-Carlo Legends – featuring a display of vintage images sourced from the archives of the Prince’s Palace, Monte-Carlo SBM and the Automobile Club of Monaco – captures some unforgettable moments in history, created by the presence of some of the most glamorous and influential people of their time – Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Salvador Dali and Winston Churchill.
Photographs of sporting legends such as Juan Fangio, Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Suzanne Lenglen and Fred Alexander feature alongside those of cultural celebrities such as George Balanchine, Jean Cocteau, Alfred Hitchcock, Rudolf Nureyev, Edit Piaf, Peter Sellers and John Wayne.
“We are delighted to present this wonderful collection of images to the visitors at The Forbes Galleries,” says Maguy Maccario Doyle, consul general and director of the Monaco Government Tourist Office (North America), ”and to celebrate the iconic people who have played such an important role in a century and a half of Monte-Carlo style.
“The story of Monte-Carlo started 150 years ago on a rocky hill where farmers grew olive trees and shepherds led their flocks to graze. In 1863, Prince Charles III established, by Sovereign Decree, the Société des Bains de Mer et du Cercle des Etrangers, now known as Monte-Carlo SBM, and launched the Casino de Monte-Carlo, marking a turning point in Monaco’s history. In the ensuing years, luxury hotels and restaurants opened their doors, and the legend of Monte-Carlo (Mount Charles) has flourished ever since.”
Displayed alongside this collection of legendary images is Forever Monte-Carlo, a series of original artworks by renowned Italian photographer and video-maker, Gea Casolaro, commissioned by Monte-Carlo SBM to celebrate its 150th anniversary. With a selection of black and white images from the archives of Monte-Carlo SBM and contemporary colour photographs posed by SBM members of staff, Casolaro uses a technique of overlapping the vintage and the current formats, creating a single image – virtually bringing the past into the present. Her aim, she says, was “to pay tribute to all the people who have contributed, and are contributing every day, to keep the myth of the Principality alive, from big stars to all of the people working behind the scenes.”
Gea Casolaro – who lives and works in Italy and France – has exhibited at a number of major galleries in cities across Europe and around the world. In 2009, she was selected for a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, with a project exploring relationships between cinema and daily life in the French capital.
Timeless Monaco also features two works by 19th century French illustrator and caricaturist, Georges Goursat (1863-1934) – Gamblers in the Casino at Monte-Carlo (1905) and Roulette at Monte-Carlo (1909). Signing his works with the name Sem, he rose to fame during the Belle Époque era, depicting the high society of Monte-Carlo at the time.
Monaco, with its natural beauty and sumptuous architecture, has held a fascination for film makers since the early days of cinema, and this unique exhibition also features a montage of 150 clips from films shot in the Principality. Compiled by students from The Factory film school in Lyon, France, Monte-Carlo Fait Son Cinéma (Monte-Carlo At The Movies) will be screened in the Galleries’ Club Room.
Timeless Monaco is on view at The Forbes Galleries, 62 Fifth Avenue (at 12th Street), New York City, until Saturday September 28th. The exhibition is free and open to the public. For further information, please visit www.ForbesGalleries.com or call 212-206-5549.