Navigation and service

Reading a book? Hollywood liest

Exhibition of the German Museum of Books and Writing of the German National Library in Leipzig

Press release:  November 23, 2015

Reading a book? Hollywood liest. Exhibition of the German Book and Writing Museum of the German National Library in Leipzig. 27 November 2015 to 31 July 2016. Exhibition opens: 19:30 on 26 November.

Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford, Ronald Reagan, James Stewart, Cary Grant or Clark Gable: many glamourous Hollywood stars often used books to convey a certain image. Books rarely played leading roles in films. But they were among the most frequently shown props. Yet now that books no longer represent learning and social status as exclusively as they once did, they are seen less and less on the big screen. Based on nearly 70 photographs from the 1920s to the 1970s, the "Reading a book? Hollywood liest" exhibition of the German Museum of Books and Writing provides a brief pictorial history of the relationship between stars and books.

The many production stills and promotional photos showing stars with books in their hands hold up a mirror to the ”film career“ of books. At least one such picture was shot of all the big Hollywood stars: taken on set, at home by the fireplace, by the pool, in a library or hotel lobby. The focus in such photos is on the film prop books, but also very much on the eyes of the stars, captured in a fixed, panic-ridden, seductive, yearning or evil look. The photos therefore provide not only an iconography of the book, but also a pictorial history of glances.

The collection of photos of movie stars in reading poses compiled by Günter Karl Bose also reveals a special aspect of cinema history: the relationship between two once-competing media whose best years would seem to belong to a bygone era. Bygone? Books and films represent an intrinsic part of today’s ubiquitous and dynamic media convergence made possible by digital media. Yet even at the beginning of the 21st century, the new public domain and rapidly changing information processes still have to meet traditional cultural needs: "Zum Sehen geboren, zum Schauen bestellt…" (Johann Wolfgang Goethe)

Reading a book? Hollywood liest

Exhibition of the German Book and Writing Museum of the German National Library in Leipzig
27 November 2015 to 31 July 2016
Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 - 18:00, Thursday 10:00 - 20:00, National holidays (except Mondays) 10:00 - 18:00. Admission is free of charge.

Exhibition opens: 19:30 on 26 November

Welcome: Michael Fernau, Director of the German National Library in Leipzig
Introduction: Dr. Stephanie Jacobs, Head of the German Museum of Books and Writing
Dr. Sissi Tax, Berlin: "The Looks not the Books!"
Axel Thielmann & Co. zitieren Hollywood

Background

The book has shaped our culture and civilisation like no other medium. For centuries our knowledge about the world and its peoples has been stored in books. The task of the German Museum of Books and Writing of the German National Library is to collect, exhibit and process evidence of book and media history. Founded in 1884 as the Deutsches Buchgewerbemuseum (German Book Trade Museum), it is the oldest museum in the world in the field of book culture, and also one of the most important with regard to the scope and quality of its stocks.

The main focus is on the book and its myriad aspects: as an ingenious invention and as the product of economic and technical processes, as a social icon and the most important vehicle of culture, as a work of art and as a censored and burned repository of ideas.

Contact person

Press spokesperson

Images for publication

This Page

Schriftbanner mit Deutscher Nationalbibliothek Leipzig, Frankfurt am Main