“Picasso and Braque Go to the Movies” is a marvelous documentary by art gallery legend and sometime filmmaker Arne Glimcher that chronicles the ways in which Cubism was influenced, inspired, and threatened by the emergence of cinema at the turn of the 20th century. The film focuses primarily on Picasso and Braque, the founders of Cubism, who at one time were so close they called themselves Wilbur and Orville (after the Wright brothers).
Glimcher – aided by a marvelous lineup of talking heads including the film’s coproducer Martin Scorsese, Picasso biographer John Richardson, art critic Adam Gopnik, and such artists as Julian Schnabel and Chuck Close – draws on a startling array of film clips from the era. We see the magic of the early silent shorts by the Melies brothers, by Chaplin (whom Picasso greatly admired), and the great French comic Max Linder, as well as rare footage of fan dancers, strong men, and the famous Exposition Universelle in Paris.
The film’s thesis is that Cubism seized film as a revolutionary new art form and, by fracturing the image within the canvas, sought ways to create a cinemalike dynamism that would both rival and complement the movies. Altogether fascinating. Grade: A (Unrated.)
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