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Framing Pictures

Framing Pictures: Film and the Visual Arts

Steven Jacobs
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Framing Pictures
    Book Description:

    Through the feature films and documentaries of directors including Emmer, Erice, Godard, Hitchcock, Pasolini, Resnais, Rossellini and Storck, Jacobs examines the way films 'animate' artworks by means of cinematic techniques, such as camera movements and editing, or by integrating them into a narrative. He explores how this 'mobilization' of the artwork is brought into play in art documentaries and artist biopics, as well as in feature films containing key scenes situated in museums. The tension between stasis and movement is also discussed in relation to modernist cinema, which often includes tableaux vivants combining pictorial, sculptural and theatrical elements. This tension also marks the aesthetics of the film still, which have inspired prominent art photographers such as Cindy Sherman and Jeff Wall.Illustrated throughout, Jacobs' study of the presence of art in film, alongside the omnipresence of the filmic image in today's art museums, is an engaging work for students and scholars of film and art alike.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4703-3
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Camera and Canvas: Emmer, Storck, Resnais and the Post-war Art Film
    (pp. 1-37)

    Documentary explorations of art and artists can be found early in film history. Already in the late 1910s, German film studios such as Deutsche Lichtbild and Welt-Kinematograph produced documentary shorts on the sights and monuments of historical cities such as Munich and Seville.¹ Strikingly, when visual art started to become the subject of films, it appeared only in the form of architecture and monumental sculpture. Having the advantage that they could be filmed in natural light, churches, palaces and monuments were the pre-eminent subject of early films on art. In spite of the vast majority of films on painting among...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Vasari in Hollywood: Artists and Biopics
    (pp. 38-64)

    The previous chapter demonstrates that seminal art documentaries made during the aftermath of the Second World War sought to animate static artworks not only by editing and camera movements but also through storytelling devices in order to create a narrative dynamic. One way of achieving this was linking pieces of art to the life of the artist who created them. Directors such as Oertel and Resnais, for instance, presented artworks as components of the biography of Michelangelo or Van Gogh. Given this perspective, their films show unmistakable similarities with cinematic biographies in the form of feature fi lms, the so-called...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Galleries of the Gaze: The Museum in Rossellini’s Viaggio in Italia and Hitchcock’s Vertigo
    (pp. 65-87)

    Both Roberto Rossellini’s Viaggio in Italia (Journey to Italy, 1954) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) contain key scenes that are situated in museums. In Rossellini’s film, an uptight English couple, Katherine and Alexander Joyce (Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders), travel to Naples in order to dispose of property inherited from their uncle. Their confrontation with an alien Mediterranean culture makes them realise that they have become strangers to one another. Their reactions drive them to the brink of a divorce and the film’s loose plot is built on a number of excursions Katherine takes in the surrounding area. While Alex...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Tableaux Vivants 1: Painting, Film, Death and Passion Plays in Pasolini and Godard
    (pp. 88-120)

    In Chapter 2 on artist biopics, it was noted that the conversion of a painting into a staged scene is a recurring topic in this genre. Instead of showing us Rembrandt’s actual paintings, for instance, Korda, in his biopic on the Dutch painter, presents us with scenes based on them. Similarly, Jarman’s film on Caravaggio comprises several scenes set in the artist’s studio, which show us models posing for a Caravaggio composition like a tableau of waxworks at Madame Tussaud’s. Three-dimensional scenes, which are based on two-dimensional pictorial compositions, are thus created in the film studio. These two-dimensional compositions, in...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Tableaux Vivants 2: Film Stills and Contemporary Photography
    (pp. 121-148)

    The previous chapter showed how modernist directors used tableaux vivants to create blockages in the flow of the film that result in a kind of enigma. A similar effect is also often achieved by the presence of still photographs in a film. Referring to a wide range of films including Blade Runner, Memento, One Hour Photo, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Road to Perdition, Don’t Look Now, Himmel über Berlin, The Truman Show, Rear Window and Blow-Up, David Campany noted that

    cinema tends to dwell on the photograph as mute and intransigent object from the past. Not surprisingly, the types of...

  11. CHAPTER 6 The Video That Knew Too Much: Hitchcock, Contemporary Art and Post-Cinema
    (pp. 149-179)

    During the last decades, new relations between film and the visual arts have been established, some of them incited by a wide range of phenomena that have been labelled by critics and theorists with the umbrella term ‘postcinema’. At the end of the twentieth century, theorists, artists and filmmakers came to realise that cinema had a history, that it had become a medium of the past. In spite of the huge quantity and diversity of films still being made, some even spoke of the ‘death of cinema’ and film’s centenary celebration in the mid-1990s often went hand in hand with...

  12. Appendix to Chapter 2: Artist Biopics
    (pp. 180-182)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 183-199)
  14. Index
    (pp. 200-210)