Hollywood’s Sistine Chapel: Sacred Sets for Stage & Screen captures the Renaissance in both theatre and cinema. Six hand-painted, sound-stage backdrops from Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) studio will “guest star” in this exhibition, alongside exquisite artworks from The Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts. The backdrops, on loan from Texas Performing Arts at The University of Texas at Austin, were created for MGM’s 1968 papal drama, The Shoes of the Fisherman, starring Anthony Quinn. Nearly discarded, more than 200 backdrops—including these six replicas of large-scale Renaissance masterpieces in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel—were saved through the 2017 Art Directors Guild’s Backdrop Recovery Project, as featured in the July edition of O, The Oprah Magazine.
Hollywood’s Sistine Chapel engages iconic movie backdrops in conversation with modern theatre designs and with 15th and 16th-century Renaissance artworks. Including rare movie backdrops in this exhibition, the McNay expands Robert L.B. Tobin’s heartfelt imperative that future generations of designers discover and learn about theatre arts practices. Backdrops replicating frescoes, including Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgement,” complement the Tobin Collection’s cathedral-inspired maquettes for Giacomo Meyerbeer’s opera La Prophète, and costume designs by Jim Dine for John the Baptist in Salome.” A screenprint of Anthony Quinn, The Pope of Broadway by artist Eloy Torrez, punctuates the exhibition conversation.
Hollywood’s Sistine Chapel: Sacred Sets for Stage & Screen is co-organized by the McNay Art Museum and Texas Performing Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. This exhibition is conceived by R. Scott Blackshire, Ph.D., Curator, The Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts; and co-curated with Karen L. Maness, Professor of Scenic Art and Figurative Painting at The University of Texas at Austin, and Scenic Art Supervisor at Texas Performing Arts; and Timothy J. Chagolla Retzloff, The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund Assistant Curator, The Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts.
This exhibition is a program of The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund.