Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art

The Years of La Dolce Vita – The Birth of Celebrity Culture in Focus
30 April to 29 June 2014

Marcello Geppetti (1933-1998)
Brigitte Bardot in Spoleto, June 1961
MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

This summer the Estorick Collection presents The Years of La Dolce Vita, an exhibition which explores one of the most fertile periods in contemporary Italian cinema and the simultaneous explosion of celebrity culture. The eighty photographs capture the dolce vita (literally ‘sweet life’) enjoyed by Italian movie stars and Hollywood ‘royalty’ working in Rome during the 1960s.

The exhibition juxtaposes images of this real-life dolce vita taken by Marcello Geppetti, one of its most skilful chroniclers, with behind-the-scenes shots from the set of the eponymous film by its cameraman, Arturo Zavattini. Together, these photographs vividly evoke an era of extraordinary glamour, creativity and decadence, yet also challenge us to consider our response to the media’s obsession with celebrity, the invasive nature of the images, and the ‘guilty pleasure’ we take in them.

Revealing the public, professional and private lives of some of the movie industry’s most celebrated actors and actresses, The Years of La Dolce Vita not only provides a candid and evocative snapshot of an era noted for its extraordinary vitality, but also presents a selection of images which, for better or worse, helped to change the face of photojournalism forever.

Gallery Talks and Workshops 2014

The exhibition is accompanied by a programme of Gallery Talks and Workshops, details below:

Saturday Gallery Talks
Free with an admission ticket purchased on the day.

10 May at 15.00
True Crime, Celebrity and the Origins of the Paparazzi Phenomenon

Stephen Gundle, Professor of Film and Television Studies, University of Warwick

17 May at 15.00
Lo stile italiano: Fashion, Design and La Dolce Vita

Giuliana Pieri, Reader in Italian and the Visual Arts Royal Holloway, University of London

21 June at 15.00
Invasive Looking and the Pursuit of Celebrity

Laura Pucci, Lecturer, Faculty of Arts, University of Nottingham


Family Workshop
Wednesday 28 May 11:00-14:00

Capturing the Stars
Discover Marcello Geppetti’s photographs of Hollywood idols and make your own pin-hole camera.

Under 5s and family events are drop-in workshops with no booking required. Free for children accompanied by a paying adult.

Adult Art Class

Tuesday 3 June 18:00-20:00

A Moment in Time
A photography workshop, with artist Christina Gestra, looking at the context and era of early paparazzi images along the Via Veneto in 1960s Rome. The practical activity will explore the snapshot decisions made when taking such photographs.

Bring a camera.

Book in advance on 020 7704 9522 or email

£10.00, £8.00 members

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
39a Canonbury Square
London, N1 2AN
Tel: 020 7704 9522

Opening Times

Wednesday to Saturday 11.00-18.00

Sunday 12.00-17.00

Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

11.00-21.00 on the first Thursday of each month.


Adult: £5.00. Concessions: £3.50. National Art Pass: £2.50.

Free entry to under 16’s and full time students with a valid NUS card.