Steven Jacobs - Moving Statues: Sculptures Filmed by Carl Theodor Dreyer and Henri Alekan
The 1940s and 1950s can be considered as the Golden Age of the European art documentary. In an era of a popularization of the visual arts and shortly before the breakthrough of television, directors such as Luciano Emmer, Alain Resnais and Henri Storck created a series of landmark experimental shorts dealing with art.
Their films “on” art presented themselves self-consciously as “art films” playing on the boundaries between the two- and three-dimensional, stasis and movement, and the artificial and the real. Most of these films dealt with painting and, consequently, most critical attention (by André Bazin and Siegfried Kracauer, among others) was dedicated to the problem of how to evoke the canvas by the camera. However, some striking art films of that era also focused on sculpture. This lecture deals with two shorts directed by prominent filmmakers: Thorvaldsen(1949) by Carl Theodor Dreyer and L’Enfer de Rodin(1957) by Henri Alekan. In completely different ways, both films study the human figure, volume, texture, space, light as well as the moving position of the beholder through the art of cinema. Situating both films in the oeuvre of both directors as well as in the context of contemporaneous debates on the art film, this lecture also investigates how the camera’s exploration of sculpture was presented as a self-reflexive exercise in the art of film.
Steven Jacobs teaches at the Department of Art History of Ghent University. His publications include The Wrong House: The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcock (010 Publishers, Rotterdam, 2007) and Framing Pictures: Film and the Visual Arts (Edinburgh University Press, 2011).
5 € (free with entrance ticket)