Between 1964 and 1966 Andy Warhol commenced an ambitious project in which he would photograph, using 16mm motion picture film, his Factory superstars, art world luminaries, underground celebrities, fashionistas, rock and roll gods, bold-faced Hollywood names, drag queens, and aimless teenagers who gravitated to the avant garde, Pop art world of New York in the mid-1960s.
Posts tagged ‘Salvador Dali’
These notes accompany the French Avant-Garde of the 1920s program, screening April 14, 15, and 16 in Theater 3.
Charles Sheeler comes to mind as one of the few American artists who dabbled in film in the 1920s. Whereas in Germany the mainstream Expressionist cinema was itself avant-garde, and in Italy the society became surreal following Mussolini’s rise to power in 1922, France presented a unique instance of a free interplay of filmmakers with other visual artists. This program is an attempt to capture some of this interaction and to suggest how it might have benefited French culture. It also suggests that a society where the movies were totally dominated neither by commerce nor by the state provided an appealing model. It was certainly beneficial to Iris Barry, the founder of The Museum of Modern Art Film Library, to be able to cite names like Man Ray, Duchamp, Léger, and Dalí in establishing the high aspirations and legitimacy of film when appealing for funds from patrons who might look askance at Douglas Fairbanks, Charles Chaplin, or Walt Disney. (It was left for us future generations to make cogent arguments for Otto Preminger, Clint Eastwood, and John Waters.)
In my first post I talked about how seven master painters in MoMA’s collection inspired me to write Portrait in Seven Shades, an hour-long piece of music being performed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra over the next several nights. The piece has seven movements, each dedicated to a different painter. Yesterday, I wrote about how I was inspired by Monet’s treatment of light and surface in his triptych Water Lilies. Today I’d like to talk about another movement in the suite, this one inspired by Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory.
Dalí‘s work incorporates familiar images and objects in unfamiliar settings and combinations, creating a sense of discomfort or insecurity in the viewer. His paintings allude to violence, sexuality, and secrets living in one’s subconscious. The Persistence of Memory depicts a barren landscape populated by melting clocks; I was inspired by this surreal scene to develop an unusual time signature, 13/8. Embracing the effect of this painting I have found sounds and approaches to harmony that are familiar on their own, but take on an unsettling effect with the particular way they are combined.
In “Dalí,” which is basically a disguised blues, the persistent drum groove exposes a little of the aggressive quality of this painting, and the melody, played in thirds by trumpet and alto, exists in a different tonal center from the bass, like a lost creature searching. A flamenco-like clave—supporting a drum solo and emphasized by the orchestra’s hand clapping—references Dalí’s Spanish heritage.
When curators Leah Dickerman, Luis Pérez-Oramas, and I began to discuss our plans for creating a new gallery dedicated to Mexican Modernist art made in the 1930s and 1940s—which opened in May of this year—Frida Kahlo’s Fulang-Chang and I was one of the works we were determined to include. We were intent not only to show the painting, but also to display it alongside the mirror that Kahlo made to accompany it, for reasons I’ll elaborate on a bit later.
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