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The Birth of Promotion: Inventing Film Publicity in the Silent-Film Era
Vincent Astor Gallery
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
November 22, 2011 through January 2012
The evolution of motion pictures from invention to art form has spanned the century. The basic elements of the promotion and distribution of film were established in the silent-film era. This exhibition focuses on the develoment of those elements — posters, promotional magazines, advertising, and exploitation campaigns — from pre-cinema to the transition to sound film. The gallery visitor will be able to view posters, programs, advertisements, and lobby cards that were shown to the public from 1890 to 1930, as well as original gouache designs for posters, including an early, pro-Union sketch for Birth of a Nation. Also on view are things that the public was never supposed to see — periodicals, calendars, and exploitation sheets giving advice to theater owners and managers on publicity, advertising, and retail tie-ins for films starring Theda Bara, Lillian Gish, Corinne Griffith, Harold Lloyd, Pola Negri, Mary Pickford, Ben Turpin, Rudolph Valentino, and many others, famous and forgotten.