Art Films #101

Art can be a lot of fun. I’ve assigned this article the number #101 because I have a sneaking suspicion this is not going to be the only post on this subject.

For our first look at art films, lets take a peek at some artists in action.

Artist Brad Blackman pointed me to this first film… Ahhh…. Here we have that incredible showman Pablo Picasso giving a painting lesson:

You have to remember that Picasso was every bit as good at selling himself and his ideas as P.T. Barnum was.

Picasso leans on art vase

Pablo Picasso portrait by Yusef Karsh, National Gallery of Canada

And then there is the incomparable Salvador Dalí. Did the word “surreal” exist before Dali did? I doubt it.

Writing at a desk made of a live woman in a yoga “desk” configuration

Mad or not, any way you slice it Salvador Dali was magnificent.

I found this excellent thumbnail take on surrealism in a YouTube comment about Un Chien Andalou:

There’s not supposed to be a point. Bunuel and Dali, in true surrealist fashion, wrote the script based on dreams they’d had. The surrealists weren’t interested in plot. They were interested in chaos and getting people to think in non-conventional ways.”

registerman07 on YouTube

For one of the most exceptionally… uh… artistic films of all time, you should check out the bizarre… you might even say “surreal” 1929 film that Dali made with Luis Buñuel Un Chien Andalou Part 1 and if you get through it, Un Chien Andalou Part 2. But in the meantime, I love this film clip showing an “older and wiser” Dali, showing off his work and explaining why he’s a bad painter:

Alright I admit it… that was a demonstration of Dali hamming it up. World class ham.

Yes indeed, Dali was different. Weird, even. But definitely interesting. And I think some of his art was amazing, while some is dreadful. Of course, you and I might well disagree as to what is dreadful.

But I think that this film is an excellent Dali tribute:

Because first and foremost, Dali was an artist. A very good one. was certainly one to push the envelope, and was. like Picasso, a supreme showman to the tips of his toes. If anything, Dali’s personal mystique may have eclipsed the art he created.

The first time I heard of Kinestasis was in film school. The word comes from the combination of two mutually exclusive words, which translate into “moving” and “still”, the idea being the creation of cinematic movement from still photographs. This can be achieved through a combination of camera movement and motion created through photographic sequencing. Possibly the most famous example of this technique was the antiqued photograph montage in the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

La Jetée poster

Much as I love Butch and Sundance, nearly a decade earlier Chris Marker made an entire film using this technique. It’s also one of my favorite science fiction films, and certainly my favorite art film of all time, this kinestasis film called La Jetée. Marker’s short black & white film is composed almost entirely of black and white still photographs. (There is one brief moment of movie film.)

You can find inferior quality copies of this film online, but I have to recommend buying the beautiful Criterion Collection version of La Jetée. Criterion has done a beautiful restoration job.

12 Monkeys logo

Muto poster

I’m not the only one who thought La Jetée is an amazing film; Terry Gilliam was so taken with it it inspired his film Twelve Monkeys (Note: You haven’t seen Brad Pitt until you’ve seen him in this. Damn that man can act.) The first time I watched Twelve Monkeys I didn’t like it. I found it irritating, I think because of both how close and how far from the original it was. Watching it a second time, I was able to watch it for itself without making comparisons. I found Twelve Monkeys brilliant.

I have one last film to offer here, but before I do I have to tell you that this is one seriously amazing artist. Blu is an incredible artist working in graffiti. Or is it mural? Which is awesome enough. But add to the incredible murals that blue does are the films made in conjunction with some of the murals.

It is possible to get sucked into the artist blu’s website; I’m sure I could spend hours or days watching all of the blu films available on YouTube. Blue is not simply an animator, and not simply an artist, but both. What more fitting way to end this first look at Art Film?

For a good initial look there is this incredible Metamorphosis film, MUTO

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3 Responses to “Art Films #101”


  1. 1 Nienke Hinton March 30, 2010 at 9:24 am

    The last film, “Muto”, reminds me of a grown up version of “Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings.” Do you remember that show?
    Great post Laurie! Loved all the videos.

  2. 2 lothlaurien March 30, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    I don’t remember that show but I do remember loving the Harold and the Purple Crayon books, which I’m guessing are the same kind of thing.

    Metamorphosis has long been an animation meme, but I am so incredibly impressed with all of Blu’s animations.


  1. 1 Tweets that mention Art Films #101 « lothlaurien's lore -- Topsy.com Trackback on March 28, 2010 at 7:54 pm

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