Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Paris trip

Caught 'Sweeney Todd, le diabolique barbier de Fleet Street' while in Paris last weekend. It was a first weekend screening playing to a full-house on the Champs Elysées & it was a blast. The audience seemed to accept the 'non-professional' singing & were delighted & appalled by the buckets of blood thrown at the camera. It's an indulgent homage from Burton to the films of Mario Bava & Dario Argento & the audience lapped it up like a modern grand-guignol spectacle. The film seemlessly fuses all of Burton's influences & psychological pre-occupations into a very satisfying whole.
Special mention to Danté Ferreti's incredible producton design. He's been deservedly nominated for the Art Direction Oscar & his evocative, gothic sets are unquestionably the years best.

Next day Raja & I took a trip to Disneyland. We had our brains scrambled on the roller-coaster rides or 'russian mountains' as the French translates. Taking a breather we checked out the 'Art of Animation' section which has a great display of production art, notably development drawings & sculptures from The Little Mermaid and Beauty & the Beast.

Allemagne; Les années noires

To temper the jolliness of Disneyland next day I headed over to Musée Maillol to check out the exhibition of artwork made during & after the First World War from the perspective of German artists. Often I'm seduced into seeing exhibitions by eye-catching posters only to be let down by the rest of the collection. I was intrigued by the Otto Dix artwork used as the poster (above) & the exhibition did not disappoint. It's an extensive gathering of expressionist & Dadaist artists like Dix, George Grosz & Max Beckmann.

The line drawings of George Grosz were the stand-outs for me. Ronald Searle has cited Grosz as a major influence & the young Searle must have been inspired by Grosz's war drawings when he decided to make his visual record documenting the atrocities he witnessed as a POW in World War 2. The influence is particularly evident in Grosz caricatures & even the stitched linework carries into Searle's approach.

Many of the pictures were hard to stomach with images of rape, brutality, horrifically injured soldiers & crippled war veterans. But the exhibition made me realise the power of art to depict the human cost & utter futility of war.

Raja had discovered the best expo in town & took me along to the Hotel de Ville to see 'Paris en couleurs'. It's a collection of photos of Paris from 1907 to the present, all in colour! It was literally illuminating to see the era that 'A Monster in Paris' is set in bright colour when we've been looking at monochrome images for over a year!

The shots from the 50s -60s show how vivid the street signs & advertising hoardings of the time were. Look how many great graphic cartoon figures cover the walls.

Coincedentally, next day at the BNF, I discovered an old exhibition catalogue of an artist who was responsible for some of those stylish 60s posters. His name was Pierre Fix-Masseau.

I rounded off the trip with my habitual visit to the Musée Picasso in the Marais district. I always like to kill an hour or two in this splendid building studying the works.

1 comment:

Richard Mitchelson said...

Great to see some DADA on the blog matt. I bloody love kurt schwitters use of type and layout. I studied Dada in animation for my dissertation, looking at films by Hans Richter. Good Post, and looks like a good trip.