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Art in the Cinematic Imagination

By Susan Felleman

Publication Year: 2006

Bringing an art historical perspective to the realm of American and European film, Art in the Cinematic Imagination examines the ways in which films have used works of art and artists themselves as cinematic and narrative motifs. From the use of portraits in Vertigo to the cinematic depiction of women artists in Artemisia and Camille Claudel, Susan Felleman incorporates feminist and psychoanalytic criticism to reveal individual and collective perspectives on sex, gender, identity, commerce, and class. Probing more than twenty films from the postwar era through contemporary times, Art in the Cinematic Imagination considers a range of structurally significant art objects, artist characters, and art-world settings to explore how the medium of film can amplify, reinvent, or recontextualize the other visual arts. Fluently speaking across disciplines, Felleman's study brings a broad array of methodologies to bear on questions such as the evolution of the “Hollywood Love Goddess” and the pairing of the feminine with death on screen. A persuasive approach to an engaging body of films, Art in the Cinematic Imagination illuminates a compelling and significant facet of the cinematic experience.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Contents

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pp. vii-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xi

At Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where I have taught in the Department of Cinema and Photography since 1998, I have been the happy recipient of grants that supported my research from several sources, including the Office of Research and Development Administration, University Women’s Professional Advancement, and the College of Mass Communication and Media...

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Introduction: Baring the Device

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pp. 1-13

Art (and by this I mean the ‘‘other’’ visual and plastic arts: painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, etc.) has been reflected and represented in, thematized by and structured into narrative films in myriad ways throughout the history of cinema. This book considers a range of such incorporations, drawn from the postwar classical and contemporary narrative cinema—European and...

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CHAPTER 1: The Moving Picture Gallery

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pp. 14-24

This death-defying magic wrought by moving pictures is not strictly a function of technology. It is representation itself that can raise the dead, as was observed long before photography by Leon Battista Alberti: ‘‘Painting has a divine power,’’ he wrote in ‘‘Della Pittura,’’ ‘‘being not only able to make the absent seem present, as friendship is said to do, but even to make the dead seem almost...

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CHAPTER 2: A Form of Necrophilia (The Moving Picture Gallery Revisited)

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pp. 25-55

In this remark, made in an interview with François Truffaut and discussing the plot of his 1958 film Vertigo,1 Alfred Hitchcock casually mentions what is not only Vertigo's rather unsettling central proposition, but also, I shall argue, an important psychosexual characteristic of the cinematic experience generally. Using Hitchcock’s observation as a starting (and perhaps ending) point, I shall examine...

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CHAPTER 3: The Birth, Death, and Apotheosis of a Hollywood Love Goddess

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pp. 56-73

Ava Gardner’s stardom is fascinating. Although, as Richard Lippe points out, she appeared in more than twenty-five films during the 1940s, ‘‘her screen identity did not really emerge until the 1950s.’’ Under long-term contract at MGM in the early 1940s, she played minor roles before winning acclaim in Robert Siodmak’s The Killers, and, Lippe notes, ‘‘she is a radiant presence in...

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CHAPTER 4: Survivors of the Shipwreck of Modernity

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pp. 74-99

At the end of The Barefoot Contessa we are left standing at the graveside of Maria d’Amata and, according to some of the film’s and its star’s ardent admirers of the period, the apotheosis of Ava Gardner and the death of the classical Hollywood cinema of which it arises are imminent. Let us imagine, then, that among the mourners—offscreen—at that cinematic graveyard are not only Claude Gauteur...

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CHAPTER 5: Out of Her Element

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pp. 100-122

The image of woman that emerged symptomatically on the incomplete and unseen canvases of Jacques Rivette’s La Belle Noiseuse was that of what Barbara Creed has called the monstrous-feminine, of ‘‘what about woman that is shocking, terrifying, horrific, abject.’’1 Rivette’s classic art film, with its nineteenth century literary source, its contemplative durée, its impressionist scenes of plein...

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CHAPTER 6: Playing with Fire

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pp. 123-139

Martin Scorsese’s contribution to the 1989 anthology film New York Stories cleverly acknowledged its director’s digression from the kind of wise guy theme for which he was, fairly or not, becoming known. The credit sequence of Life Lessons, his story of the relationship between two painters set in the somewhat rarefied New York City art world of the 1980s, runs over the image of ‘‘splattered...

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CHAPTER 7: Dirty Pictures, Mud Lust, and Abject Desire: Myths of Origin and the Cinematic Object

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pp. 140-157

If it is interesting to contemplate the ways in which the representation of art in films tends to allegorize the medium as art, and the way in which the artist figure tends to constitute either a self-portrait or a kind of negative version thereof, then it might be doubly interesting to consider the representation of artist couples in film. The sexual relationship between two artists offers another...

Notes

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pp. 159-177

Bibliography

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pp. 179-187

Index

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pp. 189-199


E-ISBN-13: 9780292796652
E-ISBN-10: 029279665X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292709423
Print-ISBN-10: 0292709420

Page Count: 213
Illustrations: 39 halftones
Publication Year: 2006