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.