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"Hitchcock and Art: Fatal Coincidences"
2001-06-06 until 2001-09-24
Centre Georges Pompidou
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
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.
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
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.