Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

1960s Pop Art in movies at Barbican

To tie in with its new PopArt Design exhibition, the Barbican in London has curated an impressive state of films to reflect pop art's shiny, stylish sensibility. These range from old favourites like BLOW-UP and SMASHING TIME, to PERFORMANCE and a handful of sci-fi classics like 2001 and Godard's ALPHAVILLE as well as the '56 FORBIDDEN PLANET ! Here is what the Barbican says about it and their choice comments on those films we love here at the Projector:
Dirk Bogarde in MODESTY BLAISE

Pop artists commented on the cult of celebrity, commodity fetishism and the proliferation of media that permeated everyday life in America and the United Kingdom after the Second World War. Radically departing from all that had gone before, artists delighted in adopting the design language of advertising, television and commerce to create work that was playful but often also intentionally irreverent and provocative. In turn, designers routinely looked to Pop Art as a constant source of inspiration. Pop Art Design paints a new picture of Pop – one that recognises the central role played by design.

Bringing together more than 200 works by over 70 artists and designers, the exhibition includes iconic and lesser known works by such artists as Peter Blake, Pauline Boty, Judy Chicago, Richard Hamilton, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Joe Tilson and Andy Warhol, shown alongside objects by Achille Castiglioni, Charles and Ray Eames, Peter Murdoch, George Nelson, Gaetano Pesce and Ettore Sottsass. Pop Art Design also presents a wealth of graphic material from posters and magazines to album sleeves, as well as film,photography, and documentation of Pop interors and architecture.

The Barbican's last Pop Art in the Movies season was several years ago now, nice to see some of these back again. 

Vanessa Redgrave, David Hemmings and Sarah Miles star in Antonioni's exhilarating and enigmatic tale about a London fashion photographer who stumbles upon evidence of murder and is left wondering where reality ends and fantasy begins.
With its multi-layered meanings and rich colour symbolism, this is a hypnotic and provocative film that questions the idea that 'the camera never lies'. With evocative use of the London locations, a fabulous score by Herbie Hancock, and appearances by such 60s luminaries as Verushka, Jill Kennington and Jane Birkin.

Monica Vitti, Terence Stamp and Dirk Bogarde star in the story of a female agent who becomes involved in British government espionage in order recover stolen diamonds.
Adapted from the popular comic strip stories, Modesty Blaise is at once a screwball comedy, a spoof on '60s spy films, and a pastiche of numerous other cinematic styles. With its fabulous Pop art set designs, the years have treated it kindly; it remains an irresistible comedy with a satirical bite. 

For his sci-fi extravaganza, Kubrick projected into the future an exaggerated version of the Pop Art aesthetic of the late 60s. Stark white accented with reds and burnt oranges, the interiors – then futuristic – now have a delicious retro-futuristic appeal. To achieve the look, Kubrick worked with high-profile artist and designers: Olivier Mourgue’s Djinn chairs litter the lounge of Space Station Five, the crew use cutlery designed by Arne Jacobsen.
One of the most influential of all futuristic films, its visual impact is greatest on the big screen: see it here in a new digital presentation in our glorious Cinema 1.

James Fox plays the criminal who is forced to reappraise his moral codes when he takes sanctuary in a rock musician's Notting Hill flat.
What begins as a London gangland thriller, ends in a kaleidoscope of ideas and visual effects as Mick Jagger and Anita Pallenberg introduce the villain to a world beyond his own.

A surge of Pop art colour and design surrounds Rita Tushingham and Lynn Redgrave in the tale of two Northern girls who come to seek fame and fortune amidst Carnaby Street and trendy London town.
This ultimate Swinging London film was in fact one of the last. The optimism of earlier pictures had disappeared, and as a record of the demise of not merely a film genre but also a cultural phenomenon, this is, in terms of music, fashion and design, utterly absorbing. The script is by George Melly.

Helen Mirren stars in the film which opened London's ICA cinema in the heady, radical days of May 1968. An unsuccessful poet on the brink of suicide offers his death to an advertising agency, to be promoted as an act of protest against the consumer society.
Following a night of passion he changes his mind, but he is no longer in control of the situation. Experimental in form (in terms of split-screen effects, innovative sound and improvised dialogue), Levy's film was an attempt to break with the narrative traditions of mainstream cinema and reflects the development of the 'avant garde' in British film.  One of the most original oddities I have ever seen, when I saw it back then.

Other films shown included that fascinating documentary TONIGHT LETS ALL MAKE LOVE IN LONDON, and Godard's CONTEMPT.

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