There is a necessary minimum, the knowledge of which provides you with the title of an educated person. But how to embrace everything in the rhythm of the modern world, when books about time management and the correct setting of life goals are much more in demand than fiction and the more frighteningly thick volumes about the history of art. It is much easier to enter this world with the help of feature films. The main thing here is that the pictures are not only spectacular, but also reliable.
Alina Fedchenko, a journalist and author of a blog about art @kulturnaya_sreda, has put together a selection for BeautyHack that will become an easy guide to the main ideas and the brightest representatives of high "craft" in different centuries. It will help pass the cold evenings and gently enrich with basic knowledge of art history.
Renaissance. XVI century
A new, but already so sensational film by Andrei Konchalovsky could not fail to be included in this selection.
About what: about one of the greatest masters of the Renaissance - Michelangelo Buonurroti. Not exactly about his creative path, but, rather, about the extremely strong and contradictory personality of the master.
The film describes a short period of Michelangelo's life: his interaction with the era, loved ones, patrons. He balances between the Medici family, who actually raised him, and the other ruling clan of Della Rovere at the time the film begins. This is a movie about a person who creates "divine art", but remains with his weaknesses, sin, betrayal.
The film, like, perhaps, no other, amazingly introduces the Epoch. The picture is as close as possible to the reality of the master. The viewer is completely immersed in the world of Michelangelo, in the places where he lived and worked. An absolutely authentic atmosphere - streets, taverns and markets, private houses and papal residences, Michelangelo's workshops, stench and dirt, unwashed cracked legs - capture and immerse the viewer without a trace. Even the quarries in Carrara are the very places where the master was looking for the "white souls" of his sculptures.
A small spoiler - Michelangelo will create his "Pieta" from the same Karara monster shown in the film. Look carefully at the sculpture (if you don't remember) and don't miss the moment of inspiration of the maestro, so subtly played by Konchalovsky. Not spared in the film adaptation and the eternal mutual enmity of Michelangelo and Raphael, about which there was a lot of gossip.
And one more highlight: the main role was played by a little-known Italian actor Alberto Testone, who has a striking resemblance to the maestro.
At the end of the film (based on what he experienced) Michelangelo says: “I thought I was going to God, but in fact I was moving away. My works are beautiful, they are admired, but they do not pray before them …”.
This statement contains a key problem that arose with the filing of the great masters of the Renaissance and changed the further development of art history. The problem of the crisis of the true faith. But that's the next movie!
Such a different century XIX. First half. England
Mini-series "Desperate Romance", BBC, 2009
About what: Six episodes of authentic cinema for acquaintance with a whole direction in English painting and poetry - the Pre-Raphaelites.
First half of the 19th century, a group of young English painters rebelled against academic tradition. That letter, which is called the "great manner", adopted from the masters of the Renaissance.
Raphael exalted the method of "idealizing nature", striving for beauty at the expense of truth. If art needs to be reformed, you need to go back to an earlier period. Then the artists were "honest before God", copied nature, thinking not about the glory of the earth, but about the glory of the Lord. Because of Raphael, art has lost its sincerity.
This reasoning leads young artists to the idea of the need to return to the Age of Faith and create a new painting. They call themselves "The Brotherhood of the Pre-Raphaelites" and begin their journey, which the series fully introduces.
The main characters are artists Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Millet and William Hunt. In the second half of the series, "younger" followers of the trend appear, among whom will be William Morris, who later had a huge influence on art in general.
For the viewer who is not too familiar with the stages of the artist's acceptance by society, a whole intriguing world opens up - a complete immersion in the complexity of the formation of so far unnamed geniuses. Here is the tragedy of the eternal struggle with the Academy of Arts, and the comedy of the search for a famous patron. This is how John Ruskin appears in the film - the most prominent critic, art theorist, one of the key figures in history, which is not bypassed by any textbook or lecture on art. It was he who, by the end of the century, together with Morris, would "create a rebellion" against the enemy of aesthetics - "industrial art".
The most famous pre-Raphaelite masterpieces are being created before our very eyes - Ophelia by Millet, Beatrice by Rossetti and Hunt's Scapegoat. Vivid characters, life path, drama and happiness of each of them are amazingly revealed. Get ready to laugh hysterically and genuinely empathize.
The cinema perfectly conveys the atmosphere of Victorian England with obsolescent morals and at the same time the bohemian side of life, reaching the extreme. A lot of irony and humor make a film of serious content amazingly easy to watch. In one breath!
But what was happening in art at almost the same time on the other side of the English Channel?
Century XIX. Second half. France
"Impressionists". Air Force, 2006
About what: a three-part film about one of the brightest movements. The real story of the birth, rejection, struggle and happy recognition of the Impressionists as a separate, distinctive direction of painting. The events have been recovered from numerous surviving correspondences, documents, and newspaper articles. The watch is recommended for everyone who loves art history, painting in general, or simply "Water Lilies" by Monet, ballerinas Degas, Manet's realism.
The film completely replaces a light lecture on the history of impressionism. There is everything about the very idea that the artists tried to convey, about their war with the Salon - the only door between the artist and the recognition of his skill. Manet said that his battlefield, the Paris Salon, was a state art exhibition that needed art that went hand in hand with politics.
The whole chronology of the struggle of the circle of unrecognized rebels is restored in the picture. For example, the scandal with the appearance of Manet's Olympia at the Salon, where the outraged public tried to pierce the picture with umbrellas. Critics staged Manet persecution, which he endured very hard.
The film perfectly tells about the grandiose collapse of the first exhibition of the "impressionists", organized with such difficulty with the participation of the legendary photographer Nadar. It is he who provides a group of artists with his premises, not afraid of public censure for the support of the "outcasts".
But the most important thing that you will not see and feel at the lecture is the atmosphere of the time, the relationship between Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas perfectly revealed in the film, the friendship of Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet, the isolation of Paul Cézanne - the future founder of post-impressionism. The viewer seems to personally get to know each one individually, observing the characters of the artists.
A keen reluctance to recognize a community called "impressionism", the search for their own style, disputes and agreements are harmoniously put together in the series as a single whole.
It is an indescribable pleasure to watch how long familiar or especially beloved canvases appear in the course of the told story. As if you are there, behind the back of Manet, Degas, Renoir, Monet or Cezanne.
The story is told on behalf of Claude Monet, who outlived all his friends and is recognized as the forefather of impressionism.
The heroes of the next film in our selection will already refer to Renoir as a great maestro. These are representatives of other, new trends - expressionism, cubism.
Century XX. France
About what: a romantic, immensely sensual, equally tragic and quite biographical film about the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani. About the greatest love in the history of art. But it is valuable not only because it perfectly reveals the image of the master who left so early.
The film plunges us into the thick of the bohemian Paris of 1919, in the center of the bustling life of Montmartre. All the brightest representatives of the world of creators, already recognized at that time, Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, Jean Cocteau, Chaim Soutine, Maurice Utrillo and the incorrigible rebellious rebel Amedeo Modigliani, find themselves at one table of the now legendary cafe "Rotonda".
True, Modigliani and Picasso never converge at the table to raise a friendly toast. Their relationship is based on mutual, passionate enmity, envy, but at the same time recognition of each other's talent. And if Modigliani raises a toast, then Picasso's eyes sparkle at that moment, and his face will certainly bend in a grimace.
This film is a picture of that complex era, torn apart by social and political contradictions and so directly affecting the work of those who feel and reflect social phenomena more subtly than anyone else - artists. It is about the relationship between them, about individuals and their own path. About the conditions in which everyone fights for their laurel branch, traditionally making their way through the thorns.
Modern Art. So different, often completely incomprehensible, but at the same time enticing. It does not exist without the viewer, without his co-authorship. One of the global discoveries of the twentieth century in art was performance. Therefore, our next movie is about him.
" Marina Abramovich: in the presence of the artist", 2012
About what: this is a documentary about the main pioneer in the performance genre - Marina Abramovich. As about her own difficult path, and about the formation of this category of art in general. The story is told in the first person - the artist herself.
The performance emerged in the 60s as a protest of painting. Over the years, the artist will have to answer the question: “ Why is this art? ". The film provides an excellent detailed answer. Even if you don't like the performance, you will definitely learn to understand it.
The film explains the very idea of this art, reveals the ways to convey it, tells about the history of its appearance, the difficulties of implementation, and acceptance by society. You will learn about the most significant, complex, undoubtedly ideological and provocative experiments of the artist, who is rightfully called the “grandmother of world performance”.
The entire action of the film is Marina's preparation for her retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which will be the largest performance in history. Along the way, the artist talks about her life - childhood, family, marriage and herself.
Marina is our contemporary. Despite her years, she still collects huge queues to the world's best museums of modern art. Therefore, it is especially interesting to listen to it.
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