Art and Film: Ghost as witness

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / George Eliot said, wisely, that “our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.” For the great and infamous, it’s a prescription for immortality. As to more ordinary people, the sentiment can be cloyingly anodyne around the moment of a loved one’s death – it was viciously … read more… “Art and Film: Ghost as witness”

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Art and Film: Not so simple folk (art)

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / According to Aisling Walsh’s irrepressibly winning Maudie (2016), Maud Dowley, plagued by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, was through no fault of her own a high-maintenance sibling whom an impatient older brother deposited with a mean aunt. Maud found existential solutions in an untutored talent for painting outdoor scenes and an essentially … read more… “Art and Film: Not so simple folk (art)”

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Art and Film: The life and death of a cinephilic boomtown

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / A somewhat film-nerdy set of historical facts gave rise to found-footage maven Bill Morrison’s extraordinarily artful and expansive documentary Dawson City: Frozen Time. Dawson City, Yukon Territory, was the Klondike Gold Rush’s quintessential boomtown, over the course of two years swelling in population from 500 to 40,000 in 1898. Within … read more… “Art and Film: The life and death of a cinephilic boomtown”

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Art and Film: Wajda’s final word on art and politics

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Wladyslaw Strzeminski, the reluctant hero of Afterimage, the great Polish director Andrzej Wajda’s last film before his death at age 90 last year, was a legendary avant-garde artist in Poland before World War II. He believed the painter’s job was to transform everyday experience into a singular aesthetic expression, an endeavor that was completely … read more… “Art and Film: Wajda’s final word on art and politics”

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Art and Film: Stefan Zweig and the artist’s abdication

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / If poet Pablo Neruda weaponized his talent and his plight to stand against authoritarian forces in his native Chile and elsewhere during his peripatetic exile, the prolific writer Stefan Zweig, a Jew who left Austria in 1934 as Hitler rose to power, was his timorous opposite. Yet there is a … read more… “Art and Film: Stefan Zweig and the artist’s abdication”

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Art and Film: Elizabeth Murray and the splendor of the ordinary

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Elizabeth Murray, who died too young at 66 in 2007, stretched and contorted household scenes and objects into kinetic abstract festivals on baroquely shaped canvases that defied and escaped the presumed domestic tyranny of wifely and motherly duty. That may be what a Guerrilla Girl – fittingly interviewed in her … read more… “Art and Film: Elizabeth Murray and the splendor of the ordinary”

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Art and Film: Pablo Neruda and the triumph of art

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / With Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election, the principled advancement of civilization as the goal of politics seemed to give way to the venal aggrandizement of the clique. It’s a grim setback, but the story of the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda, as told in his … read more… “Art and Film: Pablo Neruda and the triumph of art”

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Art and Film: Damien Chazelle comes of age in La La Land

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Whiplash, Damien Chazelle’s remarkably assured and incendiary second feature from 2014, made the case that artistic accomplishment was predominantly a cloistered process of Darwinian nastiness, redeemed only in an evanescent performance that the artist must keep repeating to make good on his dark investment. The final scene – a drum solo … read more… “Art and Film: Damien Chazelle comes of age in La La Land”

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Art and Film: Kelly Reichardt’s stoic women

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Kelly Reichardt’s unostentatiously virtuosic Certain Women, based on Maile Meloy’s short stories, depicts hardscrabble Montana in angular austerity, with the simple lines of mountains and fences and utilitarian buildings, in the subdued colors of impending snow, through iterations of circumstances that illuminate foibles and strengths. Natural spectacle may not be … read more… “Art and Film: Kelly Reichardt’s stoic women”

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Art and film: Bruce Conner, escape artist

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Evident in the transfixing Bruce Conner retrospective “Bruce Conner: It’s All True” at MoMA is a probing eye that seeks out departure of one kind or another. Eclectic and countercultural, his rather Rauschenbergian arc reflects the artist’s energetic and sometimes unsubtle insistence on embracing the world’s stark, unsettling inconstancy – … read more… “Art and film: Bruce Conner, escape artist”

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