"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Art Cinema

Taschen's new book charts the history of 'Art Cinema'

Cinema's place in art history is a unique one. Films came into this world in the laboratory as a series of photographic experiments, moving very quickly thence to cheap thrills at fairs, nickelodeons and the like, then quickly became a populist entertainment juggernaut through the will of some men with 'horse sense, goddamit! showmanship!' (to quote Jack Lipnick in Barton Fink).

Others, such as the surrealists, attempted to take film into the realm of dreams, discontinuity and symbolism. One might even call Georges Melies a pure art filmmaker, even though his narratives were often popular science fiction.

In the mid-20th century, of course, filmmakers really began experimenting. Stan Brakhage experimented with form (gluing butterfly wings to rolls of film and projecting them); or in Kenneth Anger's case, the supernatural and fetishistic were placed front and center. The experimentation continued by branching out into many different styles and preoccupations.

Beyond the medium of film, artists like Tony Oursler, Nam Jun Paik and Alex Bag took video and elevated it to an art form.

While by no means an exhaustive study, Taschen has managed to assemble a beautiful and educational survey of the more artistic sibling of mainstream cinema.

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