Behind the Scenes:
The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop
Curator: Karen Maness
Producer: Bob Bursey
Technical Director: Conrad Haden
Lighting Designer: Bill Rios
In 2012, Karen Maness, co-author of the book Art of the Hollywood Backdrop, began the Backdrop Recovery Project with the Art Director’s Guild (ADG) Archives, in an effort to preserve the legacy of Hollywood’s motion picture scenic artists. This resulted in the preservation of 207 historic backings, creating the world’s most comprehensive archive of Hollywood scenic art history. ADG donated these historic drops to museums, motion picture archives, and academic institutions, including The University of Texas at Austin through the Texas Performing Arts scenic studio. Texas Performing Arts now houses 50 MGM backdrops used to educate the next generation of scenic artists for stage and screen.
This exhibit showcased 12 of those 50 drops, giving a chance for visitors to see large format art in a way that is hardly every accessible. Working with Maness we were able to light these drops both as exhibit pieces as well as showcasing their translucent nature thus revealing some of the Hollywood magic to our guests.
Photo Credit: Robert Silver