Sunday, February 19, 2012

"The Artist"

My wife and I finally got to the theater to see the movie "The Artist." All we really knew was that it was a silent, black and white movie and not much more. We had already seen "Hugo" with even less knowledge about its story line so at least we WERE prepared for a homage to silent movies.

While "Hugo" was beautiful with just enough enigma to fascinate, I think "The Artist" really captured a time and place we had all forgotten and the ability to tell a story with much less than we might think. I believe that moving pictures really is the correct term.

Seeing a movie in black and white makes you concentrate on the framing much more. Each scene, indeed each shot tells a story, moving though it is, that a static painting or photo tries to capture. In so many ways, those old movies were also works of the cinematographyers art.

What even struck me more though, was that you really did understand the plot, what was happening. The placards helped of course but it was amazing that a silent, black and white film could convey so much. Isn't that what every artist hopes for? Isn't the painting that we create an attempt to tell a story? How many times have you stood before a painting, silent and unmoving as it is, and understood exactly what the artist was trying to say?

I remember going to MOCA in Los Angeles with my four-year-old daughter to a show of art and artists from 1955-1965. One of the paintings was titled "Blue Room." My daughter was arrested by the abstract piece and after studying it for quite a long time announced, "Daddy there isn't a drop of blue paint in that painting." Other viewers discreetly chuckled as I attempted to explain that blue wasn't always a color. She seemed satisfied and we moved on.

I guess what I am trying to say is that creating art is about creating a vision of how we see the world. It can be static but I think in many ways, like "The Artist" we are also trying to tell a story.

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