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Here we are with another pill on the relationship between art and cinema. We have already discussed some movie authors and shared few examples of artists who decided to focus on the medium of video, such as Andy Warhol or the Italian pop artist Mario Schifano, both pioneers of the underground cinema of the 60s and 70s. 

Related articles: When art and movies are good binomial - Art and Movies - Madness: between visual art and cinema

However, neither Warhol nor Schifano were the first artists to be swallowed up by the magic of cinema, and, vice versa, from cinema to visual art. Art and movies have always been two different but complementary sides of culture. 

As previously mentioned here, lots of movie authors were pushed to shoot films also by the love for art. We should just think about great masters as Stanley Kubrick, who was a contemporary art collector too and a photographer. Kubrick was also a lover of modern art. The Shining’s director represents the perfect example of a deep study into the arts fields, both in more classical painting and in more contemporary styles such as Pop art. He was a connoisseur of this field, which is the reason why in his movies, from “Barry Lindon” to “Clockwork orange”, suggestions, quotations and inspirations from the art world are clear and direct.


Stanley Kubrick behind his camera, courtesy Stanley Kubrick Archive.


Kubrick cultivated education and curiosity has grown through the years. This master of cinema was indeed a real talent, mastering details. Kubrick was obsessed by details and style. He was passionate about visual art, in fact he was a contemporary art collector and, at the beginning of his career, a very good photographer. He knew how to interpret things in his own, personal way. He knew how to shape contemporary and modern art towards his aesthetic needs, to create a narration and a movie performance. 

From the 70s until the 90s Stanley Kubrick was extremely curios and attentive towards contemporary art. He was a fan of American Minimal art – the monolith from 2001: A Space Odysseyrepresents a tangible example – and of the Pop art. About the first one we can find Robert Morris, Carl Andre with his continuous repetition of geometrical shapes, or Donald Judd. We can bump into some Optical art – from its origin with artist as Victor Vasarely – just on thinking about the spaceship environment of “Space Odyssey” again or picturing the famous geometrical carpet in The Shining.


Stanley Kubrick, The Clockwork Orange, American Nudes by Tom Wesselmann room.j


Great American Nude 1965, Tom Wesselmann.


Pop Art. Kubrick was a big fan of American Pop art, and he knew it pretty well. in The Clockwork Orange, for instance, when Alex irrupts into the “cat’s lady” house, while she is doing gym before a very violent scene that in the UK was cut, the audience will recognize a Brancusi style sculpture made by American artist Liz Jones, who converted into a penis made in marble; or at the Milk bar, at the very beginning of the film, our main characters are having their vodka milk on a very particular tables made by women bodies. Those were Allen Jones tables and, some white figures, a clear reminder of George Segal works. Art references are even tangible in the scene of the cat’s lady: she has some original Tom Wesselmann paintings belonging to the “Great American nude” series. 


A Clockwork Orange The Korova Milk Bar.


Let’s stay focus for our next pill on Kubrick, we will discuss about Barry Lindon and his love for Modern paintings and others. 


Barry Lindon, a frame from the film by Stanley Kubrick, 1975.


Cover image: A Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick.

Written by Rossella Farinotti

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