New Acquisitions: Robert Altman

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May 2–3, 2007


Gosford Park. 2001. Directed by Robert Altman. Courtesy NBCUniversal

With an individualistic style that did not conform to mainstream Hollywood, director Robert Altman (1925–2006) remained a true maverick over the course of his prolific career, which spanned more than five decades. As the overriding creative force behind his films, Altman was the consummate auteur, and he refused to placate producers or buckle under studio pressure to make formulaic blockbusters, even in the face of commercial failure. Instead, he remained committed to creating unique and enduring films——often iconoclastic and irreverent, sometimes bizarre and haunting——that generated wide critical acclaim and fierce audience loyalty. Influenced by the countercultural climate of the 1960s and ’70s, Altman’s work displayed a passion for genre reinterpretation, a revisionist treatment of narrative, and an arsenal of innovative techniques, including distinctive approaches to sound and mise-en-scène. Gosford Park (2001) and A Prairie Home Companion (2006) are autumnal works that exemplify the term “Altmanesque”; in the vein of his well-known, overlapping character mosaics, they feature character-driven stories propelled by large and balanced ensemble casts. To celebrate Altman’s legacy and lasting impression on the filmmaking landscape, Marie-Josée Kravis and Michael Lynne graciously facilitated these recent acquisitions. A selection of Altman film posters from the collection is also on view on the first floor of the Museum.

Organized by Jenny He, Research Assistant, Department of Film.

Special thanks to Marie-Josée Kravis, President, MoMA Board of Trustees, and James Schamus, Focus Features, for Gosford Park; and to Michael Lynne, New Line Cinema, and Picturehouse for A Prairie Home Companion.


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