E.A show full of world stars from Mick Jagger to Steven Spielberg to Steffi Graf – and there are lots of nameless people on the exhibition poster: photographers, crowded together, armed with huge flashlights. It is unknown who the reporters in the picture, which was taken around 1960, had in front of the lens. But so much is certain, there is so much in the crowd, so much in the intensity of the moment: it must have been a star.
Without the admiring glances of the audience and without the media to convey this admiration, there are no stars. And just as the invisible idol can be seen in the excitement of the photographers on the exhibition poster, the other way around in the poses of the stars appear those for whom they are posing: the reporters and with them the fans. As curator Markus Häfner says, that is the idea behind the exhibition “Abgelierter! Stars in Frankfurt ”at the Institute for Urban History: to show what makes a star and what interactions exist with fans and the media.
All of the celebrities in the show are somehow connected to Frankfurt. Some had memorable appearances here: John F. Kennedy, for example, who was celebrated by 60,000 people on the Römerberg, or Queen Elizabeth, who visited twice. Madonna and Michael Jackson sang in the sold out Waldstadion, where Muhammad Ali also boxed against Karl Mildenberger. Udo Jürgens can be seen signing at the Hauptwache, Claudia Schiffer doing small talk with Elton John in the Festhalle and Shaquille O’Neal at the streetball at the Konstablerwache.
Star status is in the eye of the beholder
And then there are the stars who come from Frankfurt or who became known here: Liesel Christ, Bernhard Grzimek, Albert Mangelsdorff, Sabrina Setlur, Steffi Jones – to name just a few. Some of them are not only two-dimensional, but also three-dimensional: Nadia Benaissa donated the “Golden Bravo Otto”, which she won in 2001 with her band No Angels. In the video she tells about her career and her relationship with Frankfurt. Torn swimming trunks are from swimming Olympic champion Michael Groß, next to them are the expired shoes of Ironman Germany winner Lothar Leder. In another showcase is the electric guitar on which Andreas Gutjahr from the trash metal band Tankard played the Eintracht anthem at the 2018 Cup victory.
The list makes it clear that star status is in the eye of the beholder. While the guitar is a kind of relic for die-hard Eintracht fans, those who scorn football and trash metal will only shrug their shoulders. And isn’t it true that other Frankfurters were more important? One thinks, for example, of Paul Ehrlich, Ernst May and Theodor W. Adorno. A certain pre-selection is due to the nature of the show, which on the one hand focuses on the second half of the 20th century and on the other hand draws from the inventory of the Institute for Urban History. What is shown is only what has come to the city archives at some point, for example through an estate or purchase. In the case of “Abgelicht!” A large part of the pictures come from the Frankfurter Rundschau, whose archive was taken over in 2011. The inventory has now been developed and is now being presented for the first time, says the acting institute director Alexandra Lutz.
A photo from May 14, 1997 shows how quickly the stars can fade. You can see Sylvester Stallone, who receives a bembel from the then building department head Udo Corts. The actor in Rocky and Rambo is visiting Frankfurt to advertise his planned “Planet Hollywood” restaurant in the Zeilgalerie. Around 2,000 fans await him on the Zeil – but the planned opening will not work: The restaurant chain gets into economic difficulties and goes bankrupt two years later. The Zeilgalerie, which is celebrated as the shopping center of the future, is not proving its worth either and is being demolished.
On the day of the Rocky appearance, another event happened in Frankfurt: Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl opened the German National Library. Without a Hollywood star and without 2000 fans, but with a lasting effect.
The exhibition can be seen until the end of August 2022, admission is free. Further information and the accompanying program at www.stadtgeschichte-ffm.de.