artnomads in the cinema – first decades of XXth Century

art nomads - early XXth century

Georges Méliès

Born Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès
8 December 1861
Paris, France
Died 21 January 1938 (aged 76)
Paris, France
Nationality French
Occupation Filmmaker, film actor, set designer, illusionist, toymaker
Years active 1888–1923
Georges Méliès; (8 December 1861 – 21 January 1938), full name Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès,  was a Frenchillusionist and filmmaker famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest days of cinema. Méliès, a prolific innovator in the use of special effects, accidentally discovered the substitution stop trick in 1896, and was one of the first filmmakers to use multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves, and hand-painted colour in his work. Because of his ability to seemingly manipulate and transform reality through cinematography, Méliès is sometimes referred to as the first “Cinemagician”.Two of his most well-known films are A Trip to the Moon (1902) and The Impossible Voyage (1904). Both stories involve strange, surreal voyages, somewhat in the style of Jules Verne, and are considered among the most important early science fiction films, though their approach is closer to fantasy. Méliès was also an early pioneer of horror cinema, which can be traced back to his Le Manoir du diable (1896).

Early life and education

In his memoirs, Méliès emphasises his formal, classical education, as opposed to accusations early in his career that most filmmakers had been “illiterates incapable of producing anything artistic.”[2] However, he acknowledged that his creative instincts usually outweighed intellectual ones: “the artistic passion was too strong for him, and while he would ponder a French composition or Latin verse, his pen mechanically sketched portraits or caricatures of his professors or classmates, if not some fantasy palace or an original landscape that already had the look of a theatre set.”[2] Often disciplined by teachers for covering his notebooks and textbooks with drawings, young Georges began building cardboard puppet theatres at age ten and moved on to craft even more sophisticated marionettes as a teenager. Méliès graduated from the Lycée with a baccalauréat in 1880.

Stage career

While in London, he began to visit the Egyptian Hall, run by the famous London illusionist John Nevil Maskelyne, and he developed a lifelong passion for stage magic.[2] Méliès returned to Paris in 1885 with a new desire: to study painting at the École des Beaux-Arts. His father, however, refused to support him financially as an artist, so Georges settled with supervising the machinery at the family factory. That same year, he avoided his family’s desire for him to marry his brother’s sister-in-law and instead married Eugénie Genin, a family friend’s daughter whose guardians had left her a sizable dowry. Together they had two children: Georgette, born in 1888, and Andre, born in 1901.

While working at his family factory, Méliès continued to cultivate his interest in stage magic, attending performances at the Théâtre Robert-Houdin, which had been founded by the famous magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin. He also began taking magic lessons from Emile Voisin, who gave him the opportunity to perform his first public shows, at the Cabinet Fantastique of the Grévin Wax Museum and, later, at the Galerie Vivienne.[2]
In 1888 Méliès’s father retired, and Georges Méliès sold his share of the family shoe business to his two brothers. With the money from the sale and from his wife’s dowry, he purchased the Théâtre Robert-Houdin. Although the theatre was “superb” and equipped with lights, levers, trapdoors, and several automatons, many of the available illusions and tricks were out of date, and attendance to the theatre was low even after Méliès’ initial renovations. Over the next nine years, Méliès personally created over 30 new illusions that brought more comedy and melodramatic pageantry to performances, much like those Méliès had seen in London, and attendance greatly improved. One of his best known illusions was the Recalcitrant Decapitated Man, in which a professor’s head is cut off in the middle of a speech and continues talking until it is returned to his body. When he purchased the Théâtre Robert-Houdin Méliès also inherited its chief mechanic Eugène Calmels and such performers as Jeanne d’Alcy, who would become his mistress and later his second wife.
While running the theatre, Méliès also worked as a political cartoonist for the liberal newspaper La Griffe, which was edited by his cousin Adolphe Méliès.
 As owner of the Théâtre Robert-Houdin, Méliès began working more behind the scenes than on stage. Under his leadership, he acted as director, producer, writer, set and costume designer as well as inventing many of the magical tricks. With the theatre’s growing popularity, he brought in such famous magicians as Buatier De Kolta, Duperrey, and Raynaly to the theatre. Along with magic tricks, performances included fairy pantomimes, an automaton performance during intermissions, magic lantern shows, and special effects such as snowfall and lightning.
In 1895, Méliès was elected president of the Chambre Syndicale des Artistes Illusionistes.
Méliès directed 531 films between 1896 and 1913
Langlois and Franju had met Méliès in 1935 with Rene Clair,and in 1936 rented an abandoned building on the property of the Orly retirement home to store their collection of film prints. They then entrusted the key to the building to Méliès and he became the first conservator of what would eventually become the Cinémathèque Française. Although he was never able to make another film after 1913 or stage another theatrical performance after 1923, he continued to draw, write and advise younger film and theatrical admirers until the end of his life.

source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hans Richter (artist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hans Richter (April 6, 1888 – February 1, 1976) was a painter, graphic artist, avant-gardist, film-experimenter and producer.He was born in Berlin into a well-to-do family and died in Minusio, near Locarno, Switzerland.
Richter’s first contacts with modern art were in 1912 through the “Blaue Reiter” and in 1913 through the “Erster Deutsche Herbstsalon” gallery “Der Sturm”, in Berlin. In 1914 he was influenced by cubism. He contributed to the periodical Die Aktion in Berlin.[2] His first exhibition was in Munich in 1916, and Die Aktion published as a special edition about him. In the same year he was wounded and discharged from the army and went to Zürich and joined the Dada movement.
Richter believed that the artist’s duty was to be actively political, opposing war and supporting the revolution. His first abstract works were made in 1917. In 1918, he befriended Viking Eggeling, and the two experimented together with film. Richter was co-founder, in 1919, of the Association of Revolutionary Artists (“Artistes Radicaux”) at Zürich. In the same year he created his first Prélude (an orchestration of a theme developed in eleven drawings). In 1920 he was a member of the November group in Berlin and contributed to the Dutch periodical De Stijl.
Throughout his career, he claimed that his 1921 film, Rhythmus 21, was the first abstract film ever created. This claim is not true: he was preceded by the Italian Futurists Bruno Corra and Arnaldo Ginna between 1911 and 1912 [3](as they report in the Futurist Manifesto of Cinema [4]), as well as by fellow German artist Walter Ruttmann who produced Lichtspiel Opus 1 in 1920. Nevertheless, Richter’s film Rhythmus 21 is considered an important early abstract film.
About Richter’s woodcuts and drawings Michel Seuphor wrote: “Richter’s black-and-whites together with those of Arp and Janco, are the most typical works of the Zürich period of Dada.” From 1923 to 1926, Richter edited, together with Werner Gräff and Mies van der Rohe, the periodical G. Material zur elementaren Gestaltung. Richter wrote of his own attitude toward film:

“I conceive of the film as a modern art form particularly interesting to the sense of sight. Painting has its own peculiar problems and specific sensations, and so has the film. But there are also problems in which the dividing line is obliterated, or where the two infringe upon each other. More especially, the cinema can fulfill certain promises made by the ancient arts, in the realization of which painting and film become close neighbors and work together.”


Richter moved from Switzerland to the United States in 1940 and became an American citizen. He taught in the Institute of Film Techniques at the City College of New York.
While living in New York, Richter directed two feature films, Dreams That Money Can Buy (1947) and 8 x 8: A Chess Sonata in 8 Movements (1957) in collaboration with Max Ernst, Jean Cocteau, Paul Bowles, Fernand Léger, Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, and others, which was partially filmed on the lawn of his summer house in Southbury, Connecticut.
In 1957, he finished a film entitled Dadascope with original poems and prosa spoken by their creators: Hans Arp, Marcel Duchamp, Raoul Hausmann, Richard Huelsenbeck, and Kurt Schwitters.
After 1958, Richter spent parts of the year in Ascona and Connecticut and returned to painting.
Richter was also the author of a first-hand account of the Dada movement titled Dada: Art and Anti-Art  which also included his reflections on the emerging Neo-Dada artworks.


Although its centre was Paris, the cinematic avant-garde that emerged after World War I originated in Germany. Composed almost exclusively of modern painters and photographers, the international experimental film movement mounted a sustained effort to extend the formal strategies of the various strands of post-war modernism to the cinema. In deliberate opposition to the naturalizing, indexical tendencies of the popular cinema, the highly reflexive films of the first avant-garde emphasized the medium-specific properties of cinema by drawing attention to its capacity for spatio-temporal transformation. The focus was on the nature, properties and functions of the camera, film strip and screen, rather than on human actors or narrative flow. It is, therefore, highly appropriate that the films that inaugurated the movement were all works of abstract animation, an area in which German artists made a decisive contribution. Foremost among these early pioneers was Hans Richter, who, as a participant in most of the major art movements of the inter-war period and as a director, educator, theorist and cine-activist for more than four decades, played a pivotal role in the development of the avant-garde film.
After a brief career as a Cubist and six months of military service, Richter became, with Tristan Tzara and Hans Arp, one of the founding members of Zurich Dada. As the acknowledged author of many of the Dada manifestos, Richter was certainly sympathetic to its ideas, but his paintings in this period are less concerned with anarchic revolt than they are with the dissolution of natural objects into pure forms. Following the failed Spartacist uprising, Richter returned to Munich in 1919 to lead the short-lived Action Committee of Revolutionary Artists. Richter quickly turned away from politically charged figurative art, however, and devoted his energies to the development of a new system of rhythmic abstraction. Some scholars have interpreted Richter’s growing interest in non-representational forms as a response to the failure of leftist groups such as the Action Committee to affect political change. Richter, however, reads things differently:

Influenced by cubism and its search for structure, but not satisfied with what it offered, I found myself between 1913-1918 increasingly faced with the conflict of suppressing spontaneous expression in order to gain an objective understanding of a fundamental principle with which I could control the ‘heap of fragments’ inherited from the cubists. Thus I gradually lost interest in the subject – in any subject – and focused instead on the positive-negative (white-black) opposition, which at least gave me a working hypothesis whereby I could organize the relationship of one part of a painting to the other.

Richter’s preoccupation with the relationship between structural elements reflects his desire to move past the individualistic emotionalism of Expressionism by finding some way to harness, and exert dialectical control over, the flow of abstract form-combinations in his work. Ironically, one of the founders of Dada quickly became concerned that “if we allow […] an uninhibited fulfilment of all personal impulses without, at least, trying to establish harmony we are led to anarchy and suicide in life as well as in art”, and began searching for universal principles that could be used “so that we might attain a sovereignty over this new matter and justify this new freedom” .

Late in 1919, Richter met the Swedish artist Viking Eggeling, who was similarly concerned with systematizing abstraction. The two artists began living and working together, finding in the counterpoint of Johann Sebastian Bach’s fugues a principle that could be used to control both the form and the rhythm of their paintings. For Richter and Eggeling, contrapuntal polarity “was more than a technical device, it was a philosophic way of dealing with the experience of growth” and it led them to the idea of a universal language. Although no copies survive, in 1920 they jointly published an article on this subject, entitled “Universelle Sprache” (“Universal Language”), in Theo van Doesberg’s magazine, De Stijl, in 1920. The essay demonstrated how an unlimited multiplicity of relationships could be arranged by equilibrating form-elements with their opposites through similarities that they called “contrast-analogies” . In a series of scroll paintings they made between 1919 and 1921, Richter and Eggeling took their ideas further by introducing the idea of continuity to the methodical arrangement of their contrast-analogies. Since the scrolls progress sequentially, the dynamic energies of the form-element relationships are able to accumulate, allowing the viewer to experience the work not as a static fact, but rather as an active process unfolding in time. Richter and Eggeling both saw utopian possibilities in the mnemonic demands their scroll paintings placed on the eye, and this inspired them to try to apply their principles to the time-based medium of film

[Ghosts for breakfast, 1928]


* From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Man Ray

Man Ray, photographed at Gaite-Montparnasse exhibition in Paris by Carl Van Vechten on June 16, 1934
Birth name Emmanuel Radnitzky
Born August 27, 1890
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
United States
Died November 18, 1976 (aged 86)
Paris, France
Nationality American
Field Painting, Photography, Assemblage, Collage, Film
Movement Surrealism, Dadaism

Man Ray (August 27, 1890 – November 18, 1976), born Emmanuel Radnitzky, was an American artist who spent most of his career in Paris, France. Perhaps best described simply as a modernist, he was a significant contributor to both the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. Best known in the art world for his avant-gardephotography, Man Ray produced major works in a variety of media and considered himself a painter above all. He was also a renowned fashion and portrait photographer. He is noted for his photograms, which he renamed “Rayographs” after himself.
While appreciation for Man Ray’s work beyond his fashion and portrait photography was slow in coming during his lifetime, especially in his native United States, his reputation has grown steadily in the decades since.

In 1999, ARTnews magazine named him one of the 25 most influential artists of the 20th century, citing his groundbreaking photography as well as “his explorations of film, painting, sculpture, collage, assemblage, and prototypes of what would eventually be called performance art and conceptual art” and saying “Man Ray offered artists in all media an example of a creative intelligence that, in its ‘pursuit of pleasure and liberty,'”—Man Ray’s stated guiding principles—”unlocked every door it came to and walked freely where it would.”


* From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
René Clair

René Clair and Eric Satie, 1924
Born René-Lucien Chomette
11 November 1898
Paris, France
Died 15 March 1981 (aged 82)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France
Years active 1924 – 1965

René Clair (11 November 1898 – 15 March 1981) born René-Lucien Chomette, was a French filmmaker, who wrote most of the scripts for his movies.


He was born in Paris and grew up in the Les Halles quarter. He attended the Lycée Montaigne and the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. During World War I, he served as an ambulance driver. After the war, he started a career as a journalist under the pseudonym René Desprès. He also made his debut as an actor and, after an introduction from his brother Henri Chomette, he became an assistant to Jacques de Baroncelli.
In 1924, he produced his first films, Entr’acte and Paris qui dort, which were followed by a quick succession of notable films. During World War II, he went to Hollywood and was stripped of his French citizenship by the Vichy government.
He was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Cambridge and received the Grand Prix du Cinéma Français in 1953. In 1960, he was elected to the Académie Française. He came to personify French film, and the prize for film awarded by the Académie Française bears his name.
Clair started making films before the advent of sound, and therefore had very conflicting views of its uses; he was forced to use sound in his films for financial success. However, in lieu of creating films from theater plays like other French directors, Clair used sound to take the audience out of the narrative and into a different reality.
Clair’s films And Then There Were None and Le Silence est d’or both won best picture at the Locarno International Film Festival making him as of 2009 one of only two directors to do so.
One of his notable films, À nous la liberté led to a controversy involving Modern Times.

In his search for “pure” cinema, René Clair followed the Dadaist approaches of photomontage (as advocated by John Heartfield—a technique which involved “the meeting place of a thousand spaces”), and the random (as advocated by Tristan Tzara). True to those premises, Clair juxtaposed images and events as disparate as a chess game played by Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray, a cannon ignited by Erik Satie and Francis Picabia, a funeral where the coat of arms bearing the initials of Satie and Picabia was displayed, a ballerina, a sniper, inflatable balloon heads, the Luna Park rollercoaster, etc. These events were shot from a number of angles (including the ballerina from below through a plate of glass), and at varying speeds (from Satie and Picabia jumping toward the cannon in slow motion to the funeral procession racing off at the speed of the Keystone cops). While the images stressed the content as play, the director stressed the style as playfulness.

Through his film Clair invoked the entire catalogue of available cinematic techniques, abandoned the notion of narrative causality, and in true Dadaist style, espoused the overthrow of the bourgeois norm. The audience was assaulted with a series of non-related and often provocative images—from a “legless” man rising from his wagon and running away at full tilt, to a ballerina transformed into a bearded man—within a work which stressed the pleasure of inventing new spatial and temporal relations while provoking random laughter. While Clair often referred to this film as “visual babblings,” audiences of today can see the film as a serious attempt to subvert traditional values, both cinematic and social.

* From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia +
Francis Picabia

Francis Picabia in his studio c. 1910-1915
Birth name François Marie Martinez Picabia
Born 22 January 1879
Died 30 November 1953 (aged 74)
Nationality French
Field Painting
Movement Dada; Surrealism
Works Amorous Parade
Influenced by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp


Francis Picabia (born François Marie Martínez Picabia, 22 January 1879 – 30 November 1953) was a French painter, poet, and typographist, associated with both the Dada and Surrealistart movements.

Picabia was also a writer of wonderful whimsy, and publisher of the Dada journal 391.

Financially independent, Picabia studied under Fernand Cormon and others at the École des Arts Decoratifs in the late 1890s.

In 1894, Picabia financed his stamp collection by copying a collection of Spanish paintings that belonged to his father, switching the originals for the copies, without his father’s knowledge, and selling the originals.[1] Fernand Cormon took him into his academy at 104 boulevard de Clichy, where Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec had also studied. From the age of 20, he lived by painting; he subsequently inherited money from his mother.


In the beginning of his career, from 1903 to 1908, he was influenced by the Impressionist paintings of Alfred Sisley. Little churches, lanes, roofs of Paris, riverbanks, wash houses, lanes, barges—these were his subject matter. Some however, began to question his sincerity and said he copied Sisley, or that his cathedrals looked like Monet, or that he painted like Signac.From 1909, he came under the influence of the cubists and the Golden Section (Section d’Or). The same year, he married Gabrielle Buffet.
Around 1911 he joined the Puteaux Group, which met at the studio of Jacques Villon in the village of Puteaux. There he became friends with artist Marcel Duchamp and close friends with Guillaume Apollinaire. Other group members included Albert Gleizes, Roger de La Fresnaye, Fernand Léger and Jean Metzinger.


In 1913 Picabia was the only member of the Cubist group to personally attend the Armory Show, and Alfred Stieglitz gave him a solo exhibition at his gallery 291. From 1913 to 1915 Picabia traveled to New York City several times and took active part in the avant-garde movements, introducing Modern art to America. When he landed in New York in the June 1915, though it was ostensibly meant to be a simple port of call en route to Cuba to buy molasses for a friend of his—the director of a sugar refinery—the city snapped him up and the stay became prolonged.
The magazine 291 devoted an entire issue to him, he met Man Ray, Gabrielle joined him, Duchamp joined him, drugs and alcohol became a problem and his health suffered. He suffered from dropsy and tachycardia. New York ate him up.These years can be characterized as Picabia’s proto-Dada period, consisting mainly of his portraits mécaniques.


Later, in 1916, while in Barcelona and within a small circle of refugee artists that included Marie Laurencin and Robert and Sonia Delaunay, he started his well-known Dada periodical 391, modeled on Stieglitz’s own periodical. He continued the periodical with the help of Duchamp in America. In Zurich, seeking treatment for depression and suicidal impulses, he had met Tristan Tzara, whose radical ideas thrilled Picabia. Back in Paris, and now with his mistress Germaine Everling, he was in the city of “les assises dada” where André Breton, Paul Éluard, Philippe Soupault and Louis Aragon met at Certa, a basque bar in the passage de l’Opera. Picabia, the provocateur, was back home.
Picabia continued his involvement in the Dada movement through 1919 in Zürich and Paris, before breaking away from it after developing an interest in Surrealist art. (See Cannibale, 1921.) He denounced Dada in 1921, and issued a personal attack against Breton in the final issue of 391, in 1924.
The same year, he put in an appearance in the René Clair surrealist film Entr’acte, firing a cannon from a rooftop. The film served as an intermission piece for Picabia’s avant-garde ballet, Relâche, premiered at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, with music by Erik Satie.


In 1925, he returned to figurative painting, and during the 1930s became a close friend of Gertrude Stein. In the early 1940s he moved to the south of France, where his work took a surprising turn: he produced a series of paintings based on the nude glamour photos in French “girlie” magazines like Paris Sex-Appeal, in a garish style which appears to subvert traditional, academic nude painting. Some of these went to an Algerian merchant who sold them on, and so Picabia came to decorate brothels across North Africa under the Occupation.
Before the end of World War II, he returned to Paris where he resumed abstract painting and writing poetry. A large retrospective of his work was held at the Galerie René Drouin in Paris in the spring of 1949. Francis Picabia died in Paris in 1953 and was interred in the Cimetière de Montmartre.

A French painter and poet, Picabia contributed to several artistic movements, while remaining true to his independent spirit. A participant in the 1913 Armory Show in New York, he gained recognition for his Cubist-inspired works, such as Dances at the Spring (1912) and Catch As Catch Can (1913). Shortly after, he took part in New York Dada, along with Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray, painting metaphoric images of machinery and mechanical devices: Reverence (1915), Amorous Parade (1917) and The Child Carburetor (1919).

By the 1920s, Picabia had returned to Paris, where he engaged in Dada and early Surrealist activities. His art of the period features unusual materials, like feathers, matches, sticks and strings, glued onto the canvas. Examples are Dance of Saint Guy (1920), Plumes (1925) and Women’s Matches (1925). These works were followed by a series of drawings and paintings known as “transparencies”, which depict objects from various perspectives, each overlapping the other, thus resulting in a three-dimensional effect. Some highlights include Hera (1929), Salome (1930) and Adam and Eve (1931).

In addition to his paintings, Picabia provided illustrations for Littérature and numerous other periodicals. He wrote an experimental ballet, Relâche, which was staged in Paris in 1924, with music by Eric Satie. He also appeared in Rene Clair’s film Entr’acte, originally presented during the ballet’s intermission. Though Picabia denounced Surrealism in a special issue of his publication 391, the artist’s independence, as well as his irreverence and sense of humor, became a model for many future Surrealists.


Marcel Duchamp as Adam ( à la Cranach )  & Brogna Permutter-Clair in a scene from Picabia’s
“Relâche” ballet (1924)

Relâche (ballet)

Relâche is a 1924 ballet by Francis Picabia with music composed by Erik Satie.
The title was thought to be a Dadaist practical joke, as relâche is the French word used on posters to indicate that a show is canceled, or the theater is closed. The first performance was indeed canceled, due to the illness of Jean Börlin, the principal dancer, choreographer, and artistic director of the Ballets suédois.
Picabia commissioned filmmaker René Clair to create a cinematic entr’acte to be shown during the ballet’s intermission. The film, simply titled Entr’acte, consists of a scene shown before the ballet and a longer piece between the acts. The nonsensical film features Picabia, Satie, and other well known artists as actors

S.W. Bennett`s notes:
The term “Relâche” is used by theaters to indicate that they have closed. When the audience arrived at the theater on the night announced in the posters, it found the theater dark and closed. The real opening was three days later. Picabia wrote “Relâche has no meaning … When will we lose the habit of explaining everything? The background consisted of a wall of oversize phonograph records. The main personages were a Fireman and a Woman in evening dress. There were dances of a revolving door (porte tournante), wheel-barow (brouette), and crown (couronne). A group of eight men in evening dress, undress and dress on stage. The crown is placed on the head of a member of the audience. The woman rejoins her armchair.

Darrius Milhaud’s notes:
Relâche was given for the first time at the Théâtre des Champs Elyseés in 1924. It is on a book and with settings by Francis Picabia, a ballet in two acts commissioned and staged by the Ballets Suédois of Rolf de Maré, choreography by Jean Borlin, It was the height of the Surrealist period. Between the two acts there was an important innovation, a performance of René Clair’s film Entr’acte with music by Satie. To the delight of spectators, Satie and Picabia appeared themselves in the film. The music of Relâche ranges from truculence of certain marching songs to the exquisite tenderness of the accompaniments to the dances of “La Femme.”
In the marvelous ’20s, everything went, and the audience was not surprised at the end of the premiére of Relâche, to see Satie arrive on stage, to the acclaim of his cheering friends, in a little 5 horsepower Citroën car driven by Picabia.


Francis Picabia shows-off his dancing talents in Entr’acte

1924, 24 minutes
Directed by Rene Clair
Written by Francis Picabia
Music by Erik Satie Originally commisioned as the interval for the dadaist ballet Relache, Entr’acte is a plotless romp that teases the audience with a series of visual non sequiturs, featuring among its incidental characters Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray (appearing as chess players).
*** surce:  Rice University site
In 1924 the second film directed by Rene Clair, Entr’acte, was made to be shown at the intermission of the single performance of the ballet Relâche, a work created by artist Francis Picabia and composer Erik Satie that was regarded as one of the last formal outbursts of Dadaism. The movie features appearances by Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray along with music by Satie, who also acts in the film, but his score isn’t part of the current film version, according to Minderman. (Dean Minderman, New Music Circle, St. Lousis)
*** surce:  article at Postnet
Satie not only wrote the music for, but also made a brief appearance in Rene Clair’s film, Entr’acte, a surreal comedy of dark and strange humour featuring a runaway hearse and a bearded ballet dancer. Entr’acte was first shown as part of a ballet devised by Francis Picabia.
The ballet, a wonderfully dadaesque affair, caused mayhem in the audience. At the end of the performance, Satie and Picabia squeezed into a tiny Citroen car and puttered round the stage waving at the noisily disapproving crowd.
Called simply Relache, the ballet gave Satie the opportunity to write music around such concepts as ‘The Dance of the Revolving Door’ and today, whilst the ballet itself has virtually been forgotten, the music lingers on.
From Satie article (a very good one!) by Bill Nelson in New Musical Express.

Here are some interesting comments from the discussion group:
Satie’s music to this film was one of the very first instances (if not the first) of a film score composed frame-by-frame, so that the music will match exactly with the visuals. His score has been published (for piano solo) by Salabert (1972) but I don’t know where anyone could find this – I was given a photocopy for use in my Honours research paper by my tutor, and have been unable to replace it with an original. Does anyone know if there is a video (PAL format, preferably) of Entr’acte available, with the original Satie score? I saw a version at the University of Queensland in 1995 that had a (Haydn?) string quartet as the music – very strange – I ended up turning off the sound! Any assistance on this point would be gratefully received – I’ve been looking for this video for 2 years!

Recordings of the music from Entr’acte have been made by the Radio Luxembourg Orchestra, Yuri Takahashi, Koji Ueno, Ars Nova Ensemble, and Riri Shimada. From a review of the Ars Nova Ensemble LP:

Satie’s Relâche is usually described as a “ballet instantanéiste” in two acts, none of the standard recordings of which includes the “Entr’acte Cinematographique” – understandably in that it is longer than the music of either act. Relâche (1924) was among the first successful ventures in multimedia surrealism and the film, which showed, among other things, Satie firing cannon and crawling over the argoyles of Notre Dame, was directed by none other than the young Réne Clair. To accompany this the composer wrote a piece designed not to draw attention to itself through a developing musical argument, but simply to underline the visual action. Actually, this new performance makes the “Entr’acte” sound more insistent, almost obsessive in its repetitions, though partly because it was recorded with greater presence than on Vox.
Finally, an Entr’acte link for Francophiles

                        In his search for “pure” cinema, René Clair followed the Dadaist approaches of photomontage (as advocated by John Heartfield—a technique which involved “the meeting place of a thousand spaces”), and the random (as advocated by Tristan Tzara). True to those premises, Clair juxtaposed images and events as disparate as a chess game played by Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray, a cannon ignited by Erik Satie and Francis Picabia, a funeral where the coat of arms bearing the initials of Satie and Picabia was displayed, a ballerina, a sniper, inflatable balloon heads, the Luna Park rollercoaster, etc. These events were shot from a number of angles (including the ballerina from below through a plate of glass), and at varying speeds (from Satie and Picabia jumping toward the cannon in slow motion to the funeral procession racing off at the speed of the Keystone cops). While the images stressed the content as play, the director stressed the style as playfulness.

Through his film Clair invoked the entire catalogue of available cinematic techniques, abandoned the notion of narrative causality, and in true Dadaist style, espoused the overthrow of the bourgeois norm. The audience was assaulted with a series of non-related and often provocative images—from a “legless” man rising from his wagon and running away at full tilt, to a ballerina transformed into a bearded man—within a work which stressed the pleasure of inventing new spatial and temporal relations while provoking random laughter. While Clair often referred to this film as “visual babblings,” audiences of today can see the film as a serious attempt to subvert traditional values, both cinematic and social.

* From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Edwin Stanton Porter

Edwin Stanton Porter, 1901 photo
Born April 21, 1870
Connellsville, Pennsylvania
Died April 30, 1941 (aged 71)
New York City
Parents Thomas Richard Porter
Mary Jane Clark

Edwin Stanton Porter (April 21, 1870 – April 30, 1941) was an American early film pioneer, most famous as a director with Thomas Edison‘s company. His most important films are Life of an American Fireman (1903) and The Great Train Robbery (1903).

Birth and education

Porter was born and raised in Connellsville, Pennsylvania to Thomas Richard Porter, a merchant, and Mary Jane (Clark) Porter; he had three brothers and one sister.

After attending public schools in Connellsville and Pittsburgh, Porter worked, among other odd jobs, as an exhibition skater, a sign painter, and a telegraph operator. He developed an interest in electricity at a young age, and shared a patent at age 21 for a lamp regulator.

Early career

He was employed for a time in the electrical department of William Cramp & Sons, a Philadelphia ship and engine building company, and in 1893 enlisted in the United States Navy as an electrician. During his three years’ service he showed aptitude as an inventor of electrical devices to improve communications.
Porter entered motion picture work in 1896, the first year movies were commercially projected on large screens in the United States. He was briefly employed in New York City by Raff & Gammon, agents for the films and viewing equipment made by Thomas Edison, and then left to become a touring projectionist with a competing machine, Kuhn & Webster’s Projectorscope. He traveled through the West Indies and South America, showing films at fairgrounds and in open fields, and later made a second tour through Canada and the United States. Returning to New York, he worked as a projectionist and attempted, unsuccessfully, to set up a manufacturing concern for motion picture cameras and projectors.


In 1899 Porter joined the Edison Manufacturing Company. Soon afterward he took charge of motion picture production at Edison’s New York studios, operating the camera, directing the actors, and assembling the final print. During the next decade he became the most influential filmmaker in the United States. From his experience as a touring projectionist Porter knew what pleased crowds, and he began by making trick films and comedies for Edison. One of his early films was Terrible Teddy, the Grizzly King, a satire made in February 1901 about the then Vice President-elect, Theodore Roosevelt.

Like all early filmmakers, he took ideas from others, but rather than simply copying films he tried to improve on what he borrowed.

In his Jack and the Beanstalk (1902) and Life of an American Fireman (1903) he followed earlier films by France’s Georges Méliès and members of England’s Brighton School, such as James Williamson. Instead of using abrupt splices or cuts between shots, however, Porter created dissolves, gradual transitions from one image to another. In Life of an American Fireman particularly, the technique helped audiences follow complex outdoor movement.


* From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí photographed by Carl Van Vechten on November 29, 1939
Birth name Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech
Born May 11, 1904
Figueres, Spain
Died January 23, 1989 (aged 84)
Figueres, Spain
Spouse Gala Dalí
Nationality Spanish
Field Painting, Drawing, Photography, Sculpture, Writing, Film
Training San Fernando School of Fine Arts, Madrid
Movement Cubism, Dada, Surrealism

Salvador Domènec Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Marquis de Púbol (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989), known as Salvador Dalí , was a prominent Spanish surrealist painter born in Figueres, Catalonia, Spain.

Dalí was a skilled draftsman, best known for the striking and bizarre images in his surrealist work. His painterly skills are often attributed to the influence of Renaissance masters.His best-known work, The Persistence of Memory, was completed in 1931.

Dalí’s expansive artistic repertoire includes film, sculpture, and photography, in collaboration with a range of artists in a variety of media.
Dalí attributed his “love of everything that is gilded and excessive, my passion for luxury and my love of oriental clothes”to a self-styled “Arab lineage”, claiming that his ancestors were descended from the Moors.
Dalí was highly imaginative, and also had an affinity for partaking in unusual and grandiose behavior. His eccentric manner and attention-grabbing public actions sometimes drew more attention than his artwork to the dismay of those who held his work in high esteem and to the irritation of his critics.

* From  :

 A Spanish artist and writer, Dalí joined the Paris Surrealists in 1929, shortly after the premiere of Un chien andalou, a film he had co-written with Luis Buñuel. A child prodigy, Dalí began painting at age six, exploring a wide range of styles and approaches, before finally arriving at Surrealism in 1927. His paintings capture the dream state in a remarkably realistic way, overflowing with Freudian symbolism, unrestrained sexual desires and childhood memories. Utilizing his paranoiac-critical method, Dalí’s “dream photographs” depict a subconscious world of mysterious landscapes and melting objects, with great attention paid to elements of Nature – the earth, sky, clouds, water, pebbles, insects, animals, fruit, etc. While exploring his deepest obsessions and fantasies, Dalí conjured up unforgettable surrealist images, often containing hidden figures and double meanings. Among his many masterpieces are The Lugubrious Game (1929), The Great Masturbator (1929), The Bleeding Roses (1930), The Persistence of Memory (1931), The Phantom Cart (1933) and Atavistic Vestiges After the Rain (1934).

Dalí’s explorations were not limited to painting. He also created photographs, sculptures, holographs, jewelry, clothing, stage scenery, film scripts and literature.

In 1939 he designed and oversaw the construction of the Dream of Venus, a surrealist funhouse at the World’s Fair in New York. During the 1940s, he published his autobiography The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí and collaborated with Philippe Halsman on several memorable photographic experiments, including Nude With Popcorn (1948), Dalí Atomicus (1948), and Dalí and the Skull (1951). Finally, in 1974, the Dalí Theatre and Museum, a building conceived and designed by the artist himself, was opened in Figueres, Spain.

Though, in later years, Dalí’s endless self-promotion and megalomania led Breton to dub him “Avida Dollars”, there is no denying the profound impact he had on Surrealism. Responsible for an immense collection of powerful images, Dalí emerged as the Movement’s most recognizable figure.


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