If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you’ll know how much I’ve been looking forward to the Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon exhibition, which opened on July 2nd at The National Portrait Gallery. I managed to make it to the exhibition yesterday afternoon, and as I walked through the entrance to the show, I fully anticipated staying for hours, revelling in the treat that is essentially a 3D Audrey-themed Pinterest board.
I have to admit, though, that I had very mixed feelings about this exhibition, and unfortunately the reigning emotion was definitely disappointment. Perhaps because I was so looking forward to it, I’d built up too high an expectation. Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon takes up only 3 small rooms. I couldn’t believe it when I walked into the last room – was that really it? I doubled back and walked through the exhibition again, looking hopefully for another room I’d missed. But no: I’d seen it all. Trying not to feel too disappointed, I decided to give the exhibition another chance: I walked through it again, carefully studying all the photographs, admiring many I’d missed in my first quick and excited walk around.
The photographs were, of course, lovely. I had, however, already seen the majority of them several times over. Now, I know I’m a bit of an Audrey fanatic (she is my number one style icon, after all, and I myself have a whole Pinterest board devoted to her gamine grace), so I’ve probably seen more photographs of her than the average person, but I’d been hoping that the exhibition would have a much larger range of less well known, more personal photographs. I did enjoy seeing some of the very young Audrey that aren’t widely known, and it was fascinating to observe the development of her iconic image (the rooms are arranged chronologically).
In general, though, I was thankful that I had purchased membership of the National Portrait Gallery in time to see the John Singer Sargent exhibition (which was brilliant) as well, as I think I would have felt rather ripped off if I’d bought it only as a means to see the Audrey exhibition several times. If you’re planning to see the exhibition, I recommend buying advance tickets, as when I went they had completely sold out of tickets for the day, and people were signing up for membership just for the chance to get in (and, in my opinion, this exhibition alone isn’t really worth the cost of full membership!).
I would also issue a warning that, if you haven’t seen the exhibition yet, then do try your best to go at a time that is likely to be less crowded (e.g. in the week if possible, or first thing in the morning on the weekend). As the exhibition rooms are small, and for the most part the photographs aren’t large either, I think it would become exceedingly difficult to see them properly if the rooms were any more crowded than when I went.
I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the exhibition – have any of you been yet? What did you think of it?
Images via: National Portrait Gallery postcards and website.