Fishing for art in movies – it’s an exhilarating pursuit of mine.
Movies are filled with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments that are so fleeting, I feel like an angler waiting for a prized catch. Artworks with meaningful connections to a movie storyline are the real trophies. I’ve started taking note of these discoveries in an on-going art appreciation lecture series presented at Station Gallery and around town.
An all-time favourite movie of mine with arresting background pictures is The Shining. Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror thriller classic is an absolute treasure trove of art cameos. It’s filled with backdrop references to artwork painted by Canadian artists such as Norval Morrisseau, Alex Colville and Paul Peel. It’s interesting to notice Peel’s famed 1890 painting After the Bath in a brief and blurry appearance following the famous horrifying bathroom scene. Coincidence? Not with Kubrick’s meticulous eye for film-crafting.
I’ve often wondered why Kubrick strategically inserted well-known works by Group of Seven painters including F.H. Varley, A.Y. Jackson and J.E.H. MacDonald. I recently had an “a-ha” moment of realization. As The Shining plot thickens, the tranquil Canadian landscapes hanging on the Overlook hotel walls take on an ominous mood of isolation.
This is just one example of artwork hidden in cinematic plain sight. The list of artwork sightings, coincidences and tributes continually grow as new movies are released. Every time a painting, photograph or sculpture pops up in a movie, it gives a compelling point of entry into the world of visual art. Cinema and art share fascinating parallels for discussion and interpretation. Join me at the Central Branch of the Whitby Public Library on Thursday, May 12 at 7:00 p.m. for the latest in a series of art appreciation talks connecting visual art and cinema. You’ll gain an appreciation for the deeper connections between films and art.
By Olexander Wlasenko
Join Olex for his next Synchronicities: Art & Cinema Art Talk at the Whitby Public Library on May 12 at 7 p.m.