"The Moscow Times. Context", October 10, 2008
Grace in Time
Mementos from the life of Grace Kelly go on show
Two years ago, construction tycoon Vladimir Seminikhin was one of the first Russian art collectors to step forward and open up his own gallery space, The Yekaterina Foundation. Since then the gallery has become well known on the art circuit for holding quality exhibitions, ranging in style from Socialist Realism to Russian contemporary art.
This week, a different type of exhibition opens to the public, showing clothes, films and photographs of Grace Kelly, movie star and princess. A larger version of the exhibition opened in Monaco last year and has since toured the world.
"People in Russia don't really know her as an icon of Hollywood," said Seminikhin in a telephone interview from his residence in Monaco. "They know her as royalty but that is usually it."
Kelly made her film debut in 1951 but did not become a household name until she starred with Clark Gable in the romantic adventure film "Mogambo." She became a household name after she caught the eye of Alfred Hitchcock and starred in several of his films. In 1955 she met Prince Rainer of Monaco briefly at a reception in Cannes. The next time he was in America he courted her and a whirlwind engagement followed. In April 1956, she became Her Serene Highness the Princess of Monaco. She died from injuries sustained in a car accident in 1982.
Last year, 25 years after her death, an exhibition was held at the Grimaldi Forum Monaco with many objects chosen personally by her son, Prince Albert.
"After she died Prince Rainer treated objects that she touched, forks she ate with, as if they were religious relics. He wouldn't let anyone else look at them," Seminikhin said. "But Prince Albert thought it was important to show his mother in a personal light, and was always interested in showing these items off."
When Kelly became a princess, she was already established as one of Hollywood's most famous actresses. She had starred in three Alfred Hitchcock films: "Dial M for Murder," "To Catch a Thief" and "Rear Window," and she won an Oscar for her role in the film "The Country Girl." Her duty as a princess stopped her from acting, and there was an outcry in Monaco when she accepted the lead role in Hitchcock film "Marnie" in 1962, which forced her to ultimately reject it.
In a letter to Hitchcock declining the part, Kelly wrote: "I hate to disappoint you. … I also hate the fact that there are probably many other 'cattle' who could play the part equally as well. Despite that, I hope to remain one of your 'sacred cows.'"
One of the films to be shown at the exhibition is a video that Kelly made of her children when they were young. It is said that she used Hitchcockian techniques to make these home videos.
Kelly was renowned for her dress sense. The dress she wore to the Oscars when she won the best actress award in 1955, a blue satin column dress with spaghetti straps and matching cloak, is on display. Designed by Edith Head, who made Kelly's costumes for the Hitchcock films, the dress was voted as one of the best Oscar outfits of all time.
Other items shown are photographs, letters and jewelry. These include her engagement ring made out of emerald and diamond.
Seminikhin and his family live in Monaco and are trying to hold cross-cultural events between the two countries. They exhibited the Knave of Diamonds in Monaco in 2004, and next year plan to hold exhibitions in Moscow and Monaco celebrating a century of the Diaghilev Seasons.
"The Epoch of Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco" runs to Dec. 3 at the Yekaterina Cultural Foundation, located at 21 Ulitsa Kuznetsky Most. Entrance from Ulitsa Bolshaya Lubyanka. M. Kuznetsky Most. Tel. 621-5522.
By Marina Kamenev