Picasso & Braque go to the Movies

Martin Scorsese in Picasso & Braque go to the Movies, from http://tiff08.ca

You may remember that last year there was an exhibition at the PaceWildenstein gallery in New York on Picasso, Braque and Early Film in Cubism. It took the interesting if contentious line that Picasso and Braque were enthusiasts for early cinema (for which there is scant actual evidence), and that their experience of early film helped inform their cubist art.

A year on, and a film has appeared, Picasso & Braque Go to the Movies, made by art dealer Arne Glimcher, who was behind the exhibition, and featuring, among other, Martin Scorsese. The sixty-minute documentary features at this month’s Toronto International Film Festival, whose sites provides this blurb on the film:

Anyone with the remotest interest in the relationship between film and the visual arts will want to pay careful attention to this Mavericks presentation. It features heavy hitters from both cultural worlds, brought together by a most intriguing interlocutor. Arne Glimcher is among the great tastemakers of the art world. The artists he represents through his PaceWildenstein Gallery in New York City – including the recently departed Robert Rauschenberg – would alone embody a rich and coherent history of twentieth-century art. Glimcher is also a filmmaker, acting as a producer (The Good Mother) and director (The Mambo Kings) on several significant films.

A decade or so ago, Glimcher asked himself a question: if photography could have had such an impact on Manet and the Impressionists, shouldn’t cinema have had a similar impact on subsequent generations? His thinking turned to the advent of cubism, and especially the groundbreaking paintings of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Soon a major gallery show and book emerged. “Picasso, Braque and Early Film in Cubism” explicitly contrasted film clips from early cinema (especially those of Georges Méliès) with cubist paintings.

Glimcher has now turned that show into an hour-long documentary, featuring today’s leading artists, intellectuals and curators. The result is both great fun and intellectually adventurous. Martin Scorsese, as great a film historian as he is a filmmaker, signed on as a producer, and contributes a personal and fascinating narration. The ever-articulate Chuck Close provides enormous insight as a (celebrated) painter fascinated by how motion and artificiality is captured and transposed onto canvas. And in a tour-de-force series of intellectual connections, master painter and Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Julian Schnabel reflects on time, stillness, colour, experiential desire and the necessity of colourless boxes.

There a clip from the film on Cinematical, which has Scorsese speculating on how you photograph a dream, accompanied by clips from the Edison Frankenstein on 1910. And this 2007 New YorkTimes article discusses the original exhibition and its ideas. Apparently there’s talk of it being nominated for an Oscar (or Academy Award®, if you will).

%d bloggers like this: