Movies : an in between modernity mess

There’s a funny dissonance I love to feel in movies : it’s when the modernity of a scenario, of dialogs, of directing is seen into what seems an “old form”.

It’s obvious – and very disturbing – when you watch Seven Samurai (1954) or Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). The sound is old, and it’s black and white vintage, but everything sweats modernity.

It’s as if it was “not OK”, not fitting, and one wonders how the audience could watch that at the time. You feel this with all Welles movies, but also Fellini’s.

But in the beginning of the sixties, you find movies which are between two worlds : Truffaut’s Jules et Jim (1962), Huston’s Night of the Iguana (1964), Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960), but also Lilith (1964) or Breathless (1960), Suddenly Last Summer (1959), The Misfits (1961), L’Eclisse (1962)…

All of them are black and white movies, and you begin to watch them accordingly (“Oh a good vintage classic movie!”). And you are FLOORED by the complexity or modernity of these…

Well, this article is about this “in between” mess. The structure seems to be : “looks like an old form, but modernity explodes into it”.

Where do you find that? In literature? Photography? Poetry?

What if you searched, out of Netflix, “Best films of the Sixties”, and watch them all, just for the pleasure of discovering forms, authors, resonances, happiness? Out of the flow…

Have a nice day!

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The “Brushstroke Pattern” & Progress in Arts : Offering Awareness

As soon as you choose a domain in History : the art of war, a country, Swedish movies or the way people built boats, you learn many things, one of them being “the progress”. Then you take your magnifier…

In Art History, you can study colors or perspective or the way artists paint clouds, but you have always in mind this pattern : each important artist pushes a lever, “the progress” it is. “What’s new here?” is the main thing.

Today I watch the brushstrokes. Painters use paintbrushes, and, man, there was a moment when one should not show the brushstrokes…

Ingres, in the XIXth Century, was like the “guardian of academic orthodoxy” against the crazy romantics. Classicism, it’s the word, and it was gorgeous :

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Shadings, it’s the word. The art of painting as the art of “not showing it’s painted”.

Then came the romantics and the realists and then the impressionists and this strange modern idea against “classicism” : showing to the audience it’s painted.

This is a portrait made by Manet :

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This painter knew precisely how to paint beautiful perfect things, skin and eyes and flowers and fabrics. He learnt it for years! But all along his career he became to do this : showing it’s made, it’s a painting!

Yes it leads to Van Gogh :

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Or Marquet :

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Hmmm : as the photography had appeared to “capture” reality, painters began to quit this path to explore other ways. It’s Art saying it’s Art. It captured something else, a mood, a moment, an atmosphere…

Further? Auerbach?

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I let to decide where you can go on this road. Franz Kline?

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Maybe Nicolas de Stael?

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Painting with a knife…

Hey! It’s only a few rectangles of painting, right? So… How do you know it’s a village, with trees and houses? This village was painted in 1954 and is called Menerbes.

I love this little pattern, which is :

“I show you something and I don’t cheat : I make you aware it’s made”

Like in the movies, when a character talks to the audience, breaking the Fourth Wall ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_wall ). Like in a novel, when a character knows he’s a character or talks to the reader. Like when a teacher asks them little students about teaching and ways to do it in acts…

Offering Awareness

It’s a tool and a good one :

  • You address your audience as smart people.
  • You also invite them to think, instead of being hypnotized.
  • You make them smile… right?

In your field (marketing? blogging? poetry?), how could you do that? Why? Could it go wrong, or too far? How?

“Get out of your dream!” as a modernity

These two paintings were made the same year, 1863. The first one (The Birth of Venus, by Cabanel) was a huge success and was bought by the Emperor Napoléon III. The second one (Olympia, by Manet) was a huge shock and scandal.

It’s a perfect example of the confrontation between classic and modern…

 

Manet is often called “The first modernist painter”. I’ll talk in another article about this painting, but let’s be quick : there are at least two transgressions here.

  1. Venus is a symbol, she’s lying on a rock with a very calculated posture, surrounded with pretty cherubs, awwwwe. Innocent as possible. He body is perfectly painted, “as it should be done”, with glazing light…
  2. Olympia is a hooker, someone brought flowers – a client, who is obviously… you. She stares at you, right? Manet, who perfectly knows how to paint, deliberately paints her not in a dream, but like in reality. She’s a bit pale, and wears slippers!

Wikipedia :

The painting deviates from the academic canon in its style, characterized by broad, quick brushstrokes, studio lighting that eliminates mid-tones, large color surfaces and shallow depth. Unlike the smooth idealized nude of Alexandre Cabanel’s La naissance de Vénus, also painted in 1863, Olympia is a real woman whose nakedness is emphasized by the harsh lighting. The canvas alone is 51.4 x 74.8 inches, which is rather large for this genre-style painting. Most paintings that were this size depicted historical or mythological events, so the size of the work, among other factors, caused surprise. Finally, Olympia is fairly thin by the artistic standards of the time and her relatively undeveloped body is more girlish than womanly.

(…both are in the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris. If you want to visit the city one day…)

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In this article, I watch the second transgression. From him, we begin to really SEE the brush strokes. A painting like this invites you to THINK instead just feeling happy because it’s beautiful.

Look at the chairs and the characters in the front of the Tuileries park in Paris. They are normal. But the trees and the crowd are just… stains.

He opened the way to impressionism

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“What I seek before all else in a painting is a man, not a painting.”
Emile Zola

 

Hitchcock and Wilder, as movie makers, always said that they don’t want to push the audience in a dream, but invent stories or events strange enough to make the audience AWARE it’s a film, to have fun with them. Hitchcock always appears in his films, which is an example.

Brian de Palma (cinema) works like Brecht (theater) about distancing effects, things (like a split screen) which will make break the cinema-dream to put you out and make you think.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distancing_effect

 

Tool :

Yes it’s a tool, useful for today. Whatever your field, how can you do to use it? Is “Making people aware of the form” modernity? What are the other criterions?

In a post-modern era, or if your audience IS aware, what happens? You use irony, geeky references? How does it work? How can it be boring? How does it fail?

Hmmm. Sorry I have to stop and go to bed.

 

Thank you for reading!

 

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Non Finito : Inchoateness in #Art

There’s a Wikipedia page about sculpture : Non Finito. We could begin with this.

Non finito is a sculpting technique meaning that the work is unfinished. Italian in origin, it literally means “not finished”. Non finito sculptures appear unfinished because the artist only sculpts part of the block, the figure sometimes appearing to be stuck within the block of material.

An unfinished piece of Art can be caused by the death of the artist, obviously, but now it’s also an esthetics purpose. You can imagine many ways of reading it :

  • Showing you a little of the act of creation
  • A failure, fatigue
  • No more money/no more inspiration
  • A refusal to decide it is “done”
  • A way to say it could be improved indefinitely
  • Impossibility to find perfection
  • Something finished or “too beautiful” is exhausting, disagreeable
  • It makes the audience think and wander within the “what could have happened”

 

In some fields, the “never finished” thing is constant : there are, for example, no finished Cathedrals in France. And I should explore it about Orson Welles, for example, who constantly seemed to be away and off with the idea of finishing and editing a movie.

Of course, there are problems with that concept. The “unfinished” thing can make the artist appear as a smart-ass doing is “non finito” thing. If it’s a trend to do this, what’s the point?

“This can be finished later” : some composers (or theater plays writers) constantly work on their stuff, and Proust, the French writer, is well known for his “quillings” : he added and added hundreds of little papers, adding fragments of texts to the existing text, and, as says Wikipedia : Proust died before he was able to complete his revision of the drafts and proofs of the final volumes.

In fact, it’s difficult for an artist to know, therefore to decide, when a piece of art is DONE. Some artists, like the painter Turner, decided to come back to work after a long time, and to put it further. Thus, you can finish is… many times.

Of course, this makes you think about the way it’s done. You can work back on a poem, even on a movie, but it’s harder to do it on an album – I read an interview of Peter Gabriel who was telling that he would love to redo some of his CDs. It can be remixed, remastered, but the record companies would unlikely allow him to change them really.

Mike Oldfield did it with Tubular Bells. He said in an hilarious interview that the original album was full of mistakes and flaws, so he redid it completely with a perfect sound and digital recording. Decades after the 1973 one, the new version was a success, but after a few months, the good old one was back on the shelves…

Tools & Dials :

What about YOUR art? How do you blog? How do you write? When do you know it’s over? Do you ask someone? Do you think about it if you paint?

Thanks for reading!

(So sorry for my bad English)

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