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The video VHS version

 

Review of

The Mystery of Picasso

-- a 75-minute movie / video of Picasso at work, made in 1956, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. Available from Amazon.com on VHS (NTSC format) and on DVD.

Although we get to see very little of Picasso himself in this movie, what we do see is extraordinary: his vitality, humour and upbeat attitude come across in the most fascinating way. The artist and filmmakers rigged up a system using inks which bled through the paper, and special lighting, which enabled the paintings to be filmed from the back, so that you don't see the painter's actual hand & brush, but you do see the painting in the process of being made, stroke by stroke. When Picasso got tired of ink and switched to oil on canvas, they used a system of successive or semi-animated stills. There are two or three short but riveting sequences of Picasso himself, and he turns out to be an astonishingly unassuming, regular sort of guy -- notwithstanding the charisma, of course. "a va mal", he says of a big canvas-in-progress; "a va trs trs mal ...".

Picasso made some 20 paintings and drawings specially for the movie, many of them vintage stuff, but by the terms of the contract most of them were later destroyed. His process-oriented methods, so vividly demonstrated here, have had a profound influence on the subsequent theory and practice of art.
[In French with English subtitles].

See more on Amazon: The Mystery of Picasso, DVD

See more on Amazon: The Mystery of Picasso, video VHS (NTSC format)

M.A.
October 12, 2004

Modified November 14, 2004

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