Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Art Goes To The Movies"

For the first time, my husband, film critic Robert Denerstein, and I will be teaching a class together combining both of our areas of expertise. The Art Students League of Denver has offered a venue for our class, Art Goes To The Movies, on Thursday evenings in February and March, 2011.

Art Goes to the Movies will be presented in four-week blocks that revolve around films concerned with art and artists. The first segment will be devoted to the enticements of the artistic process. Thanks to documentaries, we now have the ability to examine the working methods of important artists, a study that can provide inspiration for those who make art and deepen the appreciation of non-artists who regard art as an essential part of their lives.

1. February 3, 2011. The Mystery of Picasso (1958). For this crucially important documentary, French director Henri Clouzot persuaded Picasso to paint on camera, providing us with a unique opportunity to watch Picasso's mind in the midst of creation.

Topics for discussion: What is the role of "showmanship" in an artist's career? When is a work finished? Can there be art without risk? Where does craft end and art begin? How do we define an artistic genius?

2. February 10, 2011. Vincent. Director Paul Cox's 1987 documentary blends the artist's letters to his brother Theo with views of Van Gogh's work and the landscapes and faces that inspired it. Cox's approach allows Van Gogh's psyche to emerge more vividly than it has in many of the works that have attempted to dramatize the artist's tumultuous life.

Topics for discussion: The role of the spiritual in art? The artist as outcast, and the quest for transcendence in and through art. Can madness play a role in the creation of great art?

3. February 17, 2011. David Hockney: A Bigger Picture. This stirring 2009 documentary chronicles Hockney's transition from the sun-splashed climes of California to the more muted world of his native Yorkshire in Great Britain. Director Bruno Wollheim captures Hockney making work that may prove to be the capstone of an amazingly prolific career.

Topics for discussion: The artist's role in transforming landscape. Where does observation cease and vision begin? Why does so much art have the capacity to awaken us to life?

4. February 24, 2011. Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy, Working With Time. This 2001 documentary by director Thomas Riedelsheimer not only captures the transient beauty of Andy Goldsworthy's scupture, but becomes a work of art in itself. Goldsworthy uses natural materials and most often works in natural settings where pieces are subject to the vagaries of weather.

Topics for discussion: If art was made in a forest and no one was there to see it, would it still be art? Can there be a truly lasting nature to any art object? Should the artist be quiet and faceless, never an intruder on nature? Does the fact that Goldsworthy photographed (and then sold photos of) his ephemeral works make us wonder about the purity of his intentions?

1 comment:

Bruno said...

Hi Sandra,

So glad you're showing my doc on David Hockney. I'd be interested to know the response, also to know how you learned about the film.
I'm trying to get the DVD into US museums: might you be able to suggest someone at the Museum in Denver?
With thanks and best wishes,