Robert Polidori Canada, b. 1951

"I'm not a believer in the future. The most interesting things are always behind us. I look at everything as archaeology."

-Robert Polidori

 

Los Angeles is a city with a tendency to tear down, pave over, or re-build on its past. Which is why Robert Polidori’s new edition with The Lapis Press is so remarkable. The Ambassador, a series of six 32-1/4 x 44 inch prints of images taken by Polidori of Los Angeles’s storied Ambassador Hotel evokes the glory and demise of this once iconic piece of L.A. history. The Ambassador will be released as an edition of 7.

 

In 2005, mere weeks before the demolition of the Ambassador Hotel (and the Cocoanut Grove), Robert Polidori captured the faded grandeur of one of Los Angeles's most legendary establishments. Working closely with Polidori, The Lapis Press selected six images from this series that documented both the beauty of the original architecture and decay of the property since its closure in 1989. Polidori shot on large format color negative film to capture a palpable sense of history in these abandoned spaces. The now extinct rooms he photographed become powerful testaments to the impact of time on even the most staid architecture.

The large 32-1/4 x 44 inch prints reveal many subtle details, pulling you into the abandoned rooms to tell the story of a place as a metaphor for Hollywood, youth culture and transient fame. In its heyday, The Ambassador Hotel was the center of Hollywood, hosting innumerable glamorous events, including several early Academy Awards ceremonies and a nightly radio show from the Cocoanut Grove. The hotel closed in 1989, taking on a second life as the location for many film and TV shoots until it was demolished in 2005. During that time, the spaces were regularly transformed into whatever each production demanded. Polidori’s photographs for this edition show the layers of original elements and set designs melding history and artifice. Upon closer inspection, hints of peeling paint, worn carpet, and duct tape reveal what became a fragile and false existence for the illustrious hotel. True to the Hollywood cliché, when called upon for filming, The Ambassador was ready for its close up.