Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Getting In the Mood to Appreciate Art

Edward Hopper's Nighthawks is one of my favorite paintings. I may have first seen it while playing Masterpiece, a Parker Brothers game that came out in the 1970s. Even though the picture depicts a scene from the 1940s, the painting reminds me of a late night scene from my own childhood. I grew up in Oakland, California in the 1960s. Nighthawks, like all the artwork found in the Masterpiece game, is from the collection of The Art Institute of Chicago. I've never been to the museum, but any collection that includes the works of Renoir, Lautrec, Van Gogh, Seurat, and C├ęzanne, to name but a few, is okay by me. I do have a fondness for the Impressionists and the Post Impressionist.

In the film, Pennies from Heaven, the production designers, brought to life several of Hopper's paintings. Based on a television play by Dennis Potter, Pennies from Heaven is a great example of a film loved by some and misunderstood (and hated) by most. Besides bringing to life Hopper's paintings, the film also draws on the photography of Walker Evans and others who invented the iconography of America in the 1930s.

As a photographer, I have always been drawn to the works of documentary photographers like Evans, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, Atget, and Arbus. I have also been drawn to the commercial works of Avedon, Bert Stern, Annie Leibowitz, Mary Ellen Marks, Karsh, and George Hurrell; photographers who tell a story.

Images are powerful, and if you haven't figured it out already, the images that have had the greatest affect on me are those that are projected on a movie screen, especially images accompanied by music. That's why musicals and works by directors like Kubrick, Hitchcock, Curtiz, Minelli, Altman, Truffaut, Fellini, Bergman, Kurosawa and Woody Allen are among my favorites. These are directors who work with great cinematographers and production designers.

Okay, I'm now in the mood to appreciate art...and maybe even a little commerce. More later. In the meantime, enjoy this music video, it's very artistic...

Kylie Minogue - 'Come into my world' music video