Film and Culture Course: The Artist in Film

untitled-8Film and Culture Course
The Artist in Film
Course led by Reuben Lorch Miller

Saturdays | October 11 – November 15, 2014 | 12-3 pm

Nitehawk Cinema – Downstairs Bar/Cafe
136 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn 11249 (Between Berry and Wythe Streets)

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Class Description:
The Artist as a social archetype and mythological cultural character has been portrayed and reinvented numerous times in film. In this class we will be viewing films where The Artist is the central character of a fictional narrative. Through these varied examples, we will examine how this portrayal is often both stereotypical and prototypical. While it is sometimes treated skillfully, it can result in seemingly clichéd depictions. In some more recent films these clichés become the subject themselves. If the trope of The Artist serves as an important role in narrative cinematic storytelling, then what fantasies, fears and desires are expressed through this character? How has the depiction informed the cultural view of artists?

The limited yet typical depiction is often of a troubled, white man who is a frustrated and misunderstood visionary. He can be motivated by dark desires for love, acceptance and success or be crushed by the pressures of an adoring public while remaining psychologically isolated. Is he the irascible and haunted genius bent on self-destruction or the naive man-boy who is burdened by the double-edged curse of success, ambition and failure? He can be a truth-teller, an ego-driven narcissist or the outsider and rebel we all want to be. Sometimes, though very rarely, The Artist can be portrayed as a woman. Other characters that contribute to the construct of The Artist, such as The Muse and The Patron will also be investigated. Additionally, we will take note of the depictions of Artworks, The Studio, Urbanism (very often New York City) and Galleries. We will also consider the perspective of Art History contemporaneous with each film.

There will be a brief introduction to each film as well as time for discussion after. The films we will be watching are listed below:

Week 1 – 10/11: Scarlet Street 1945 (Fritz Lang dir.)
Week 2 – 10/18:  Hour of the Wolf 1968 (Ingmar Bergman dir.)
Week 3 – 10/25 at 12:15 pm: A Bucket of Blood 1958 (Roger Corman dir.)*
Week 4 – 11/1: F is for Fake 1975 (Orson Wells dir.)
Week 5 – 11/8: Life Lessons (from New York Stories) 1989 (Martin Scorsese dir.) Pecker 1998 (John Waters dir.)
Week 6 – 11/15: High Art 1998 (Lisa Cholodenko dir.)

*NOTE: A Bucket of Blood will be screened in the main theater on Saturday, October 25th at 12:15 pm as part of Nitehawk’s monthly Art Seen series. Class discussion will follow the screening.

Reuben Lorch-Miller is a Brooklyn based artist and educator. He has been a visiting artist and lecturer at many institutions including Stanford University, San Francisco Art Institute, The City College of New York and Pratt Institute.  He has also worked a museum educator at the Guggenheim Museum and The Studio Museum in Harlem. Last fall, he taught The Artist in Film course out of his studio in Greenpoint.

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