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he age of Modernism

Painting and sculpture from Postimpressionism to World War II

Ferris Bueller's Day Off -- 1986
"Ferris Bueller's Day Off for Seurat's Grande Jatte"
Robert Belton, OUC
"Thought I'd mention though there are many more artworks shown in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off" than Seurat's Sunday on La Grand Jatte. There's a long sequence at the Art Institute of Chicago, starting with Ferris, his friend & girlfriend holding hands with a lot of kids walking past Gustave Caillebotte's large Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877),then a still shot of Edward Hopper's Nighthawks (1942), still of two Kandinskys, (Improvisation 30 (Cannons) (1913) and Painting with Green Center), five Picassos (Nude under Pine tree, Old Guitarist, The Red Armchair, Portrait of Sylvette David, Seated Woman), also shows Jacques and Bethe Lipchitz by Modigliani and Day of the Gods (Mahana No Atua) by Gauguin, Greyed Rainbow by Jackson Pollack, Bathers by a River by Matisse, and in the shot of the three of them lined up you can see In the Circus Fernando: The Ringmaster by Toulouse-Lautrec in the background, also shots with Rodin and Moore sculptures, Matthew Broderick & his girlfriend kiss in front of the blue America Windows by Chagall, before it finally ends with the sequence of the large Seurat."
Christ FitzGerald
Dave -- 1993
"The film Dave starring Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver: in their version of the White House is Seurat's Bathers at a considerably larger size than it normally is."
Hideki Arichi
Looney Tunes: Back in Action -- 2003
"This video is definitely appeals more to younger students. However, there is a fun scene in which the antagonists chase the main characters through the Louvre and through the actual paintings. Dali's Persistence of Memory, Seurat's Sunday on Grande Jatte, and the Mona Lisa are included in this scene. "
Alyssa Flaten, Fergus Falls Middle School
The Wolf at the Door -- 1986
"In addition to the artist's biographies others have mentioned, The Wolf at the Door (Donald Sutherland as Gauguin) and The Moulin-Rouge (about Toulouse-Lautrec) are both useful indices of each artist's work, yet quite campy in their own ways."
Charlotte Eyerman, Union College
The Moulin Rouge -- 1952
"In addition to the artist's biographies others have mentioned, The Wolf at the Door (Donald Sutherland as Gauguin) and The Moulin-Rouge (about Toulouse-Lautrec) are both useful indices of each artist's work, yet quite campy in their own ways."
Charlotte Eyerman, Union College
"How about John Huston's Moulin Rouge starring Jose Ferrer? In addition to reproductions of some of Lautrec's most famous paintings and his poster, Moulin-Rouge, this 1952 Academy Award film for best art direction/set direction and best costume design, re-creates the interior of the infamous Montmartre dance hall -- the Moulin Rouge. The last time I saw this film (about two years ago), I noticed glaring inconsistencies with respect to the chronology of Lautrec's work -- but something more. There is one scene where the camera zooms in on an attractive barmaid behind a counter -- can you guess the rest? and the marble counter is replete with a glass bowl of oranges and bottles of champagne, etc. etc. Oops! What's the bar at the Folies-Bergere doing at the Moulin Rouge? Call it artistic license and enjoy."
Marilyn Avenali
"There are two Hollywood films that actually do a nice job of evoking specific works of art. One is the marvelous opening sequence of Moulin Rouge which evokes so many of Toulouse Lautrec's prints. The other is in a godawful Naked Maja about Goya, which does include a wonderful recreation of the Entierro de la Sardina."
Judy Sobre, UTSA
Elvira Madigan -- 1967
"A Toulouse-Lautrec drawing (or an imitation of one, more likely) also plays an important role in Elvira Madigan."
Peter Walsh, Wellesley College
Lust for Life -- 1956
"The Agony and the Ecstasy and Lust for Life are more obvious examples useful for lectures on Michelangelo and van Gogh, respectively (not for a better look at the works, but as starting points for examining the mythologies surrounding those romanticized artists)."
Craig Eliason, Rutgers University
Vincent and Theo -- 1990
"Major oversight ? What can I say about this nuts and bolts art historical drama that hasn't been said a thousand times ? Painter-boy works insane hours with loose women, fights with Gauguin, cuts ear off, and blows head off in a field ... nice crows fluttering about. Lots of paintings and depiction of how they were stored off the stretchers. Excellent scenes of 19th Century galleries and salons ... not to mention sanitariums."
Bean -- 1997
"The movie revolves around the homecoming of the great American painting Composition in Gray and Black (Whistler's Mother) (1871) by James Whistler from the French Museum where, in reality, it does reside. The painting end up being defaced, which is never pleasant to watch, but the film is fun anyway and the monumental new museum built high atop a hill in Los Angeles is an obvious reference to the nearby Getty Center, opened in the same year as the movie."
Eric Hormell, Getty
Dreams -- 1990
"No one has mentioned the late Kurosawa film, I think it was Dreams (1990), which was really three short stories; one consisted entirely (as I recall) of Van Gogh paintings, such that the "characters" were walking IN the paintings! It was very strange and bizarre -- as I recall was the "whole" film."
David Topper, U. of Winnipeg
"There is this Akira Kurosawa film, Dreams, which features one vignette involving Vincent Van Gogh. A budding artist visiting a gallery of Van Gogh's works gets drawn into them. He embarks on a quest for the master within the paintings until he meets up with Van Gogh. The interesting thing about the whole vignette is that Van Gogh's paintings provide the backdrop of the man's adventure. It is like seeing Van Gogh's works pulsate and come to life. The radiating splashes of Van Gogh colors energize the scenes. I used this in my Art Appreciation class and made them see how a painting is made to breathe by means of the more dynamic medium of film."
Pieta Agatha G. Verdadero, De La Salle University
Camille Claudel -- 1988
"There's also some very good Rodin shots, particularly of the Burghers of Calais in Camille Claudel (c. 1993)." "on using films in Women in Art classes: I've shown Camille Claudel to students in my "Women Artists" class, since as far as I know it's the only bio-pic of an actual woman artist currently in circulation. (Any more out there? ) I had them write a paper on it, where I asked them to analyze its portrayal of life as a sculptor's assistant as well as the situation of young women in the 1880s who wanted to be artists -- and the difficulties of extricating oneself from a combined professional and personal involvement with one's teacher. The students loved the movie. I'd like to hear of other experiences teaching movies, especially biographies, in art history classes."
Martha Hollander, Hofstra University
Shadows -- 1959
"A three-minute sequence in the MoMA Sculpture Garden, one of the best sequences I have ever seen about art in a movie and certainly the most exciting to study by any art historian. Ben, Tom and Dennis are visiting the sculpture garden, first discussing about the Balzac by Rodin (is he a statue?), then asking and arguing about primitive and modern art (if you feel it, feel it!). They are walking and running, they are turning around: the relationships between them and the sculptures are clear and intense. Shadows is definitely a reference; many other connections with art in this first movie by John Cassavetes."
Emmanuel Herbulot
Glory -- 1989
"The final credits in Edward Zwick's fine historic film Glory is shown over a slow pan of Augustus Saint Gauden's Shaw Memorial, arguably the finest piece of sculpture ever executed in the United States. It is a very sobering end punctuation mark to a superb film."
Einar E. Kvaran
Interview with the Vampire -- 1994
"In Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire, Russian Symbolist painter Mikhail Vrubel's The Demon is in the background in a gallery as Brad Pitt's and Antonio Banderas's characters stroll through."
James Christian
Bram Stoker's Dracula -- 1992
"However, another definite art history connection within that film is the cloak/garment worn by Dracula at the very end -- costume designer Eiko based it upon the works of Gustav Klimt. Also, much of the set and other costume design was based on research into the work of Klimt and various other Symbolist painters (chiefly Caspar David Friedrich, Gustave Moreau, and Fernand Khnopff, according to the moviebook)."
Sara B. Weber, LSSU
Dying Young -- 1991
"From <>: "After she discovers that her boyfriend has betrayed her, Hilary O'Neil is looking for a new start and a new job. She begins to work as a live-in private nurse for a young man suffering from blood cancer. Her charge is a wealthy, reclusive young man with an eye for the paintings of Gustav Klimt - and for lovely redheads like Hilary.""
Peter Jongsma
The Age of Innocence -- 1993
"The Age of Innocence is inexplicably absent from your list. It is a study of decorative arts, interiors, architecture and paintings of the gilded age in America. It is most fun to determine which paintings would not have been painted yet, but placed Hollywood-style in the homes of the characters."
Stephanie Perell, Cricket Hill Contemporary British Art
"In Michele Pfeifer's townhome there is a framed Fernand Khnopff, The Caress."
Julie Talbott
The Wings of the Dove -- 1997
"I've recently seen the movie Wings of the Dove. The main characters visit a Klimt exhibition an a great number of Klimt's most famous work appears in the film -- it's just beautiful!"
Maike Telkamp
"I know much was made of moving James' action ahead a few years so Helena Bonham Carter could wear cooler clothes, but why did they substitute all those Gustav Klimt paintings (in London, no less!) when a much better scene from the novel requires a comparison of the doomed heroine to a Bronzino painting (infinitely cooler than coolly decadent Klimt!) I for one would never mix and match with "the master's" choices of word, intonation, tone, or, especially and particularly, of artistic analogy. Honestly, those Hollywood people..."
Mike Gildea
Six Degrees of Separation -- 1993
"the reference to Six Degrees of Separation brings to mind the recent film (after the John Guare play) that features a Kandinsky painting as a focal point of the narrative."
Charlotte Eyerman
Double Jeopardy -- 1999
"In Double Jeopardy, Ashley Judd's character checks the provenance of her husband's favorite Kandinsky paintings to track him down."
Courtney Hamrick, Univ. of Arizona
Cabaret -- 1972
"The entire aesthetic and theme of Cabaret seems to have been based in great part on the paintings of Otto Dix and George Grosz, to which the film finally makes explicit reference in the closing scene. Here, the mirror of the cabaret (also a reference to the work of Toulouse-Lautrec) distorts the reflections of the manager, dancers, and patrons into figures resembling those in the work of Dix, Grosz, and Oskar Kokoschka."
Nancy A. Nield, U. of Chicago
"The opening scene in the cabaret features tableaus depicting Otto Dix's Bildnis der Journalistin Sylvia von Harden (1926) and others."
Miriam Frost
Aelita: Queen of Mars -- 1924
"there is a wonderful Russian sci-fi movie from the 1920s called Aelita, Queen of Mars (available on video) with sets by Alexandra Exter, which would be fun to use in a class on Constructivism."
Ethan Robey, Columbia University
Things to Come -- 1936
"This movie is a prediction of a utopian society which rises from the ashes of an overextended and catastrophic world war. An imaginative futuristic city designed and built during the movie."
Cory Lilledahl, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
"In the wonderful 1936 British film produced by Alexander Korda based on the H.G. Wells story, Things To Come, the set for the futurist city under construction was designed by Moholy-Nagy, the Constructivist and Bauhaus instructor."
Peggy E. Schrock, Murray State University
Surviving Picasso -- 1996
"Surviving Picasso with Anthony Hopkins (haven't seen it.)."
Nancy Nield, U. of Chicago
Children of Men -- 2006
"In this movie about a futuristic society, ravaged by war, that is facing extinction because people have lost the ability to reproduce, you will find a terrific full screen shot of Picasso's (1937) Guernica. It is not true to scale (Picasso's being over 23 ft x 11 ft), but it is shown as a very large work and shows the painting quite clearly."
Ann Terezo
Titanic -- 1997
"I'm not sure if this is the type of submission you are looking for but here goes. In the current film, Titanic the lead character brings aboard the ship several well known paintings including at least one Monet and one Picasso. The paintings are discussed, briefly, in a few scenes. Interestingly, the Picasso is Les Demoiselles de Avignon the celebrated early cubist work which is presently hanging in the MoMA, it is NOT resting on the bottom of the ocean, as the film suggests."
Jonathan Ross, New York University
"In addition to Monet's Waterlilies, Kate Winslet happened to own Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon, although a much smaller version. While Picasso painted this picture several years before the Titanic sailed, it remained in his studio covered by a drop-cloth for at least three years after the Titanic sank. I'm not sure whether they are suggesting that someone managed to copy the picture (impossible since Picasso didn't let anyone see it) or if it was just supposed to be a big joke. I didn't find it funny, though, only perplexing."
Henriette Kets de Vries, Getty
"I would like to point out that in the movie Titanic, although there is a small version of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, by Picasso, the movie doesn't necessarily refer to the original painting, but could be referring to any of the preliminary studies, which most likely could have been executed on a smaller canvas, like it appears in this movie."
Pedro Genaro Rodríguez
Savage Messiah -- 1972
"This film started my love affair with the work of Gaudier-Bzreska, when I was 21, in a dark rainy Grizedale Sculpture Forest without a pub in sight. Thank you Dan Archer for bringing the film along and introducing me to the mad mad Vorticists of pre WWI Britain. I still visit Kettles Yard a couple of times a year, just to view the work of a man who didn't live beyond 24 but would have been greater than Epstein or Moore."
Jan Hayward
Two If By Sea -- 1996
"-Sandra Bullock, Two If by Sea for Matisse's Odalisque with Red Trousers "
Robert Belton, OUC
The Moderns -- 1988
"Although I am a Professor of English, I work with early modern literature and art in my classes and have found the 1988 film The Moderns to be very useful in evoking Paris in the 1920s. Paintings by Modigliani are featured (and I think Picasso) and the film presents a discussion of a painting's worth in terms of money and pleasure. The main character, played by Keith Carradine, is a forger of paintings, which sets up the plot."
Marguerite Helmers, Univ. of Washington, Oshkosh
The Untouchables -- 1987
"More from the 1987 movie The Untouchables. There is a scene in a street where Holabird and Root's Board of Trade Building (1929) looms in the background. Dominating the scene (for those who notice these things) is sculptor Alvin Meyer's two huge figures around the centrally placed clock."
Einar E. Kvaran
Notting Hill -- 1999
"In Notting Hill, a work by Chagall plays an important role as a declaration of love."
Roberta Sheahan, Butler Community College
Dark City -- 1998
"Apparently the critics are unfamiliar with Magritte's imagery; however, it profoundly influenced the director of Dark City. Take for example the bowler-hatted anonymous protagonists called The Strangers; the same hover in space throughout the film. The entire city (in the story), as the story unfolds is suspended in the heavens; the director continually poses the question of what is illusion versus what is reality in this "reality", as does Magritte. The Strangers possess the ability to stop time and alter the city and its inhabitants; each "client" forgets when time is stopped while a new memory/reality is imposed on him. It's gloriously impressive. Strangely, Siskel and Ebert completely overlooked Magritte's imagery and ideas, but voted thumbs up for its stunning visual effects."
Shirley J. Schwarz, Univ. of Evansville
"Dark City has many influences by the American painters Rockwell and Hopper"
Kate Bradbury, Univ. of Warwick
"The art direction in Alex Proyas' Dark City seems to have been influenced heavily by Edward Hopper. This is apparent through the use of tone and colour, and the stillness and timelessness of the images. It is hard not to draw comparisons between images from the film and works by Hopper such as Night Windows, Nighthawks, and Compartment C car 193."
Paula Jacobson
Rocky Horror Picture Show -- 1975
"The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) stages a persiflage of Grant Wood's American Gothic (1930) at the wedding ceremony."
Gerhard Bissell
The Thomas Crown Affair -- 1999
"I would like to submit a painting from the movie The Thomas Crown Affair: The Son of Man by Magritte (1964)."
Shaun Cullinan
"The lead character is an art thief that pillages both a Monet, and a Magritte. Plenty of other paintings are referenced in the museum setting, showing the true scale of the works."
Lori Butler
Brazil -- 1985
"-Terry Gilliam's Brazil for Salvador Dali's shoe hats"
Robert Belton, OUC
The Avengers -- 1998
"Although certainly not the best movie, there are some great art shots in this film. Look for Andy Warhol in Mrs. Peel (Uma Thurman)'s apartment. Then watch as she makes her way through an Escher inspired stair maze with architecture that either is, or is influenced by, Robert Adam, one of Britain (Scotland actually)'s greatest Neoclassical architects. Not only is there a Roman room (a theme he loved), but also a number of spare Neoclassical rooms with primarily white and dark marble, which are highly reminiscent of the hallway at Osterley Park House -- his masterpiece. Furthermore, there are also some great shots of British Architecture, including Big Ben, Trafalgar Square and the Parliament Buildings. Finally there is also a Baroque? (sorry I wasn't looking very closely), mural in the back of the meeting of the head's of state. This movie is suffused with excellent art, what I have mentioned here is only a small example of what can be found in the movie. Certainly whoever was in charge of the sets must have been an art historian!"
Kirsty Robertson, Bishop's University Quebec Canada
"The look of†The Avengers†seemed to me close to Rene Magritte's famous pieces in his art references: black umbrella (Hegel's holidays), dark suite and bowler hat (Decalcomania), clouds in†a blue†sky (idem), Blenheim Palace (Arnheim's Castle), pipe (This Is Not a Pipe), hot air balloon (Justice Has Been Done), spheric weather-controlling station†fixed to gigantic columns (The Annonciation, and The Voice of the Air). All together†such†coincidences†are coherent with†the 'weather' issue of†an†action†movie based on a cult TV series. They suggest†that 'art in film'†means†not only†filming†formal works of art (paintings,†sculptures†and architecture) but†art informing the film's composition. The first sequence introduces us†to a typical Magritte world†where†a Zen†warrior seen from the back†is†suddenly facing hidden and dangerous†objects, a world 'that has never existed, except in our minds.' In the scene in which Jonathan†Steed and Mrs. Peel†visit a room†with transparent spheres,†the camera stops on one sphere†in which†an†animated 'hurricane'†recalls The Lovers by Magritte. Later I read that producer Jerry Weintraub said of the look they have so carefully crafted for The Avengers: 'It's a Magritte-like landscape.' Production designer Stuart Craig 'went to the works of surrealistic painters Magritte and De Chirico for inspiration, pinning posters to the walls of his office.'"
Emmanuel Herbulot
Spellbound -- 1945
"Another direction one may follow in the use of film to teach Art 101 is to show films that have been directly inspired or formed by the works of certain artists, such as Hitchcock's Spellbound (1951) in which Salvador Dali designed the dream sequence."
Robert A. Baron
"Dali's dream sequence was edited when the film was released, but a full version is included on the DVD."
Laura Burkhalter, Des Moines Art Center
Carrington -- 1995
"Carrington (1995) starring Emma Thompson should be mentioned. It focuses less on Carrington as a (not very remarkable) painter of the Bloomsbury Circle but on her rather more interesting obsessive love for the excentric (and gay) writer Lytton Strachey. To keep him she marries a man he fancies and lives in a mènage à trois. After Strachey's death she kills herself."
Gerhard Bissell
Toys -- 1992
"I have long considered Toys (late 80's or early 90's, with Robin Williams) to be a wonderful visual reference to the work of Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte and M. C. Escher."
Sara B. Weber, LSSU
"Sarah B. Weber mentioned Toys with Robin Williams already. The film isn't great, but Ferdinando Scarfiotti's set design is fantastic, apart from the mentioned references to Dali, Escher and Magritte it also contains an excellent and amusing reproduction of Theo van Doesburg's 1928 Cafe Aubette in Strasbourg."
Dietrich Neumann, Brown University
The Flintstones -- 1994
"Lots of modern art -- Picasso, Warhol, Mondrian -- carved in stone (of course) and placed throughout (especially in the corporate headquarters)."
Sherri Hill, Manatee Community College
Pollock -- 2000
"For this biopic, starring (and directed by) Ed Harris as Jackson Pollock, with Marcia Gay Harden in her Oscar-winning role as his wife Lee Krasner, more than 150 copies of actual paintings by both artists were created. There's also a scene at the 1942 opening of Peggy Guggenheim's New York gallery, Art of This Century, in which replicas of works from her collection of abstract and Surrealist art by Miro, Ernst, Duchamp, Delvaux and others are featured. The gallery interior and furnishings, designed by the architect Frederick Kiesler, were also recreated for the film."
Helen Harrison, Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center
Avatar -- 2009
"In James Cameron's 2009 Avatar, Pandora's floating mountains are directly inspired by Rene Magritte's Castle in the Pyrenees."
Maya Balakirsky Katz, Touro College
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian -- 2009
"Also, amazing shots from Night at the Museum 2 with references (sorry, I canít remember them all!) to Rodinís Thinker, Jeff Koonís dog, impressionism, the famous photograph of the sailor kissing the girl that the characters enter into -Ė I intend to use this with all year levels Ė but mostly Level 3 (17-18yrs) in my Art History classes."
Joanna Duder
The Moderns -- 1988
"One of the richest films of Modernist art is The Moderns (1988). It's about an art forger trying to go straight in 1926 Paris. He's seduced into forging some paintings including a Cezanne and a Modigliani. But the entire piece uses modernist canvases throughout, and the scenes are evocative of works in a number of styles. The penultimate scene in the brand new Museum of Modern Art is stunning."
In weiter Ferne, so nah! (Faraway, So Close!) -- 1993
"Berlin's Siegessäule or Victory Column is gloriously photographed in the opening sequence of this Wim Wenders film. The angel Cassiel stands perched on the shoulder of the Golden Goddess of Victory statue atop the column as he looks down lovingly upon the city below. Other scenes in the film take place in one of the Berlin museums and there are 'flashbacks' to what is not identified, but is probably supposed to be the 1937 Entartete Kunst Ausstellung."
Karl Engel
The End of Violence -- 1997
"Recently I saw the new Wim Wenders film The End of Violence. There are several scenes that take place in a film studio. The set in the studio is taken from Hopper's The Nighthawks."
Fred A. Hillbruner, John M. Flaxman Library
Pennies from Heaven -- 1981
"I hope someone will check me on this, but I recall that the film Pennies from Heaven contained a number of Edward Hopper tableaux. The most famous was of course Nighthawks, with Steve Martin seated at that famous all-night diner, but I believe Tables for Ladies and possibly Office in a Small City were also featured. The choice of Hopper was brilliantly appropriate for the existential, pervasively ambiguous tone of the movie."
Nick Pease
Witness -- 1985
"In the movie, the Amish boy Sam witnesses a murder while in 30th Street Station, Philadelphia. This is a gorgeous Art Deco building, and at one end stands the Angel - a forty-foot-high statue, The Angel of the Resurrection by Walker Hancock. It's a memorial dedicated to employees of the Pennsylvania Railroad who died during World War II. That statue is one of the earliest memories of my life, and I used to stand, just like "Sam," staring up at it."
Barbara Nebhut
Cradle Will Rock -- 1999
"Tim Robbins' 1991 film Cradle Will Rock illustrates the relationship between art, politics and the role money plays in all of it. Set in 1930's New York City, the movie is centered around the problems faced by The Federal Theater Program but it includes an interesting portrayal of Mexican painter Diego Rivera (played by Ruben Blades), who was at the time living in New York and working on a mural for the Rockefeller Center. The movie includes the true episode when Rivera's unfinished mural is destroyed because of the artist's refusal to eliminate a portrait of Lenin from it. Other scenes with Rivera give us an idea of his participation in the leftist movement. They also include a view of his studio and his working methods, and even a glimpse of his wife Frida Kahlo (played by an actress whose name I can't remember). Most of all, the movie gives us a glimpse of the feisty Rivera and his own involvement in art and politics."
Natanya Blanck, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
Frida -- 2002
"In the film-biography Frida of Frida Kahlo starring the mysterious Salma Hayek, we see both Frida's self-portraits and Diego Rivera's wall murals."
Maya Balakirsky Katz
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