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John Kobal 1940-1991 –An Incredible Life


John Kobal, who died twenty-one years ago this month, was a pre-eminent film historian and collector of Hollywood film photography. The author of over thirty books on film and film photography, he was known for his creative and exuberant personality, as well as his voracious knowledge of the minutiae of film and photography lore. He is credited with essentially 'rediscovering' many of the great Hollywood Studio photographers - George Hurrell, Laszlo Willinger, Clarence Sinclair Bull, Ted Allan, Ernest Bachrach, Ruth Harriet Louise, ER Richee among others - who were employed by the movie studios to create the glamorous, iconic portraits of the most famous and compelling stars of the day that now epitomise the Golden Age of Hollywood. Kobal's mission in the 1970's and 80's was to reunite these forgotten artists with their original negatives and produce new prints for exhibitions he then mounted worldwide at, amongst others, Victoria & Albert Museum, London; National Portrait Gallery, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC and LA County Museum, Los Angeles. These prints, along with the original vintage prints from the studio days, form the core of the John Kobal Foundation Archive that he donated to the foundation prior to his death in London in October 1991.

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