Superstar

The Warnecke Studio Exhibit Updates Vintage Black and White Portraits

By: Jordy Eleni - Published: Mar 14, 2012 • References: npg.si.edu and nytimes
Washington’s National Portrait Gallery has opened its doors to the new ‘In Vibrant Color: Vintage Celebrity Portraits From the Harry Warnecke Studio’ exhibit. The display provides viewers with a colored glimpse of immortalized black and white celebrities, a feature that has made icons like Lucille Ball and Jimmy Durante stand out all over again.

The exhibit is dedicated to the 1930s Daily News New York photographer Harry Warnecke, a visionary who instinctively recognized the value of color imagery before everyone else did. Although certain films had begun to incorporate color reels during Warnecke’s time, this shift was seldom seen in the world of print, and was certainly not viewed as a necessity.

In spite of the black and white photography norm, Warnecke built a camera that could capture red, blue and green tones, and even managed to convince the Daily News to create a complex image processing studio. The Warnecke Studio Exhibit confirms that he was certainly on to something, and that these vintage celebrity portraits could have benefited from a dash of color.