Cinema and the Visual Arts

Christine Sprengler

in Cinema and Media Studies

ISBN: 9780199791286
Published online July 2012 | | DOI:
Cinema and the Visual Arts

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The relationship between cinema and the visual arts is a long and complex one, stretching back to cinema’s earliest years. It is one of reciprocity, defined by various acts of exchange and mining for legitimation, subversion, and inspiration. It involves the creative efforts of practitioners from both domains and experimental gestures that pitted one against the other, thought one through the other, and often blurred the distinctions between them. Connections between art movements and film movements, art theories and film theories, as well as individuals who contributed in various ways to both realms, have done much to foster multiple points of contact. Assessing cinema in relation to the visual arts is necessarily an interdisciplinary—or, increasingly, an “intermedial”—endeavor, one that requires us to draw on scholarship in other, related areas of study. As such, I want to take a moment to explain what is not covered here, but is accessible in other OBO entries. For instance, early (philosophical) attempts to assess the status of film as art are covered in Early Film Theory and entries on individuals whose work directly addressed such questions, including André Bazin and Sergei Eisenstein. Furthermore, the concern here is not with Art Cinema, though some overlap with this category is unavoidable given the penchant of certain “art films” to also engage with art. Likewise, I have included a few sources likely to be central to the Avant-Garde and Experimental Cinema bibliography. However, I have made reference to only a selection, specifically to those explicitly invested in the history of dominant art movements and painting practices. This entry is organized around three broad categories that represent the three main ways of conceptualizing cinema in relation to the visual arts: the nature of the relationship between cinema and the visual arts, representations of the visual arts in film, and cinematic art. The first requires elaboration, for it may appear to be a category capable of subsuming the others. The relationships of concern here are the ones explored through analyses of visual and material practices in contemporary culture. While historical precursors are considered, the bulk of this section focuses on how scholars might examine, for example, cinema in relation to photography or the affinities between cinema and architecture in terms of the experiences they offer. A final note: The majority of the citations included here are suitable for senior undergraduates, postgraduates, and scholars unless otherwise noted as written for “junior undergraduates” or “theoretically complex” and thus best tackled by experts in the field. Exhibition catalogues are a mixed bag, with some introductory essays geared toward a general, nonspecialized audience and others offering rigorous, sophisticated analyses. With the exception of Pelfrey 1996 (see Themes and Issues), no textbooks on this subject are available and only one journal, Moving Image Review and Art Journal (published by Intellect, forthcoming in 2012), deals with the topic.

Article.  12622 words. 

Subjects: Media Studies ; Film ; Radio ; Television

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