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Indepth Arts News:

"Hitchcock and Art: Fatal Coincidences"
2000-11-16 until 2001-03-18
Montreal Museum of Fine Art
Montreal, QC, CA

This bold, lavish and innovative exhibition is the first ever in which a museum has drawn parallels between film and painting, at last giving full meaning to the phrase the seventh art. Never before has a museum placed the output of a filmmaker on the same footing as a hundred years of artistic creation. The result is a new reading of the cinema and painting. Visitors will draw their own connections based on the encounters, juxtapositions and coincidences presented throughout an exhibition that aims to be an entertaining show as well as a occasion for thought-provoking discovery. This spectacular exhibition will include 200 nineteenth- and twentieth-century artworks - paintings, drawings, prints, illustrated books and sculpture - and 300 cinema documents - production stills, posters, story boards, and set and costume designs - as well as forty film excerpts. The exhibition is being organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and presented by Investors Group, through its Sharing Culture with Canadians programme.

Hitchcock: The Man and His Art

Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) made more than fifty films. His name, synonymous with suspense, is legendary in the annals of cinematic history. He is probably the most famous director in the world, but he was the most private of men. For audiences everywhere, Hitchcock IS cinema, though much of his work is little known and many of his films have been forgotten. Skilled at kindling collective fright, he was long dismissed as a shrewd craftsman who played on viewers' anxieties. But the young French critics of the 1950s, notably the Cahiers du Cinéma contributors who went on to form the New Wave, anointed him an auteur, an inventor of form, an artist of coherent vision. Since then, Hitchcock has become a multidimensional figure, bridging the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and providing inspiration for contemporary art.

The Exhibition's Approach

Alfred Hitchcock's films are enjoyed by moviegoers around the globe, but he was not just a crowd pleaser. His genius lay in the ability to entertain while dealing with serious themes and erudite philosophical and artistic references.

To study this aesthetic of anguish he so brilliantly developed and maintained, the exhibition will adopt three approaches:

The first is the scholarly and documentary dimension, which will contribute to a greater understanding of Hitchcock's œuvre by means of source materials from an international array of cinema archives and private collections.

The second approach focusses on Hitchcock's showmanship and fantasy. It will be conveyed through evocatively staged settings from films like The Birds or Psycho that enable visitors to experience the atmosphere of the films and grasp the director's unequalled knack for manipulating viewers' perception and imagination. Imaginations will be spurred by costumes and objects that functioned as obsessive leitmotifs in various thrillers: the rope (Rope), the cigarette lighter (Strangers on a Train), the mother's mummified head (Psycho), the scissors (Dial M for Murder), Carlotta Valdes's jewelled pendant (Vertigo) and many others. Images from the films will also be projected on large screens that visitors pass in front of, recalling how Hitchcock's actors often performed against back projections.

The third approach, a more interpretational one, will highlight the influences, inspirations and heritage from the visual arts of past centuries that mark the œuvre of Alfred Hitchcock, who was an art lover and a collector (Rodin, Dufy, Klee and Rouault). Salvador Dalí worked with Hitchcock on Spellbound. Hitchcock's movies are frequently infused with Symbolist and Surrealist imagery. The Victorian vestiges of his early training in England are also discernible, as is German expressionism. The works selected (Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Beardsley, Sickert, Vallotton, Redon, Klee, Magritte, Khnoff, Hopper, De Chirico and many others) will invite better understanding of the cryptic visual references in the Hitchcockian world. Painting, with its illusory space, troubling resemblances and mythological representations, nourished his œuvre. In turn, Hitchcock has become an extraordinary purveyor of images to late twentieth-century art, inspiring many contemporary artists like Cindy Bernard, Alain Fleischer, Tony Oursler, Cindy Sherman, among others, as well as those working in the performing arts.

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