A reminder to anyone in London on Monday April 23rd that Shakespeare’s birthday is being marked in unique fashion by having assorted silent Shakespeare films projected onto the side of the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, on the south side of the Thames, with live musical accompaniment from Laura Rossi and the Fourth Dimension String Quartet. Screenings are now scheduled to run 8.00 pm – 10.00 pm.
What sounds like a remarkable exhibition is opening at the PaceWildenstein gallery, East 57th Street, New York. It’s called Picasso, Braque and Early Film in Cubism, and it builds on art dealer Arne Glimcher’s feeling that Picasso and Braque were enthusiasts for early cinema, and that what they saw on the screen helped contibute to their new art i.e. cubism. The exhibition (which runs April 20-June 23) features nineteen paintings by Picasso and Braque, nine original works on paper, sixteen prints, two books, photographs, projections of early films, vintage cameras, projectors, and other objects.
It’s an intriguing theory, but with scant actual evidence. Surviving correspondence reveals nothing. Picasso saw his first film in 1896, there are assorted references to his friends and associates going to see films in the 1900s, and art historians claim to have detected relevant elements of imagery or technology in the paintings, but mostly the exhibition will have to be based on conjecture and suggestion. No matter – it’ll set minds thinking, and it’ll be further demonstration that early film did not (and could not) exist in cultural isolation. There’s an article in the New York Times, ‘When Picasso and Braque went to the movies‘, which gives the background to the exhibition.
Clearly there is something in the air here. Check out earlier posts on Lynda Nead’s essay about the image of artists in early film, and the Moving Pictures exhibition about the influence of early cinema on some American realist artists.
Romantic fiction and early cinema seldom mix, but they’re about to now. Romantic novelist Rosalind Laker has written Brilliance, published this month, which is set in 1890s Paris, and features both a magic lanternist hero and the Lumière brothers. Here’s the blurb from Amazon to tempt you:
This story is set in Paris, 1894. In a moment of impulse that she will never regret, Lisette Decourt flees her home and family on the eve of marriage to a man who has betrayed her. She attaches herself to a travelling ‘lanternist’, Daniel Shaw, whose ‘Magic Lantern’ show is a phenomenally popular precursor of silent movies. Lisette is fascinated by Daniel’s art and – though adamant that she will never fall in love again – irresistibly attracted to the magnetic Englishman. Though Fate intervenes to separate them, Lisette cannot forget Daniel. She builds a new life for herself as an independent, self-sufficient career woman, yet she remains fascinated by the vibrant new film-making industry whose French proponents are the famous Lumiere Brothers. When a chance encounter reunites Lisette with Daniel, by now a successful film-maker himself, he realizes that she has the magic, elusive quality that will make her a star…