Fracture, fragmentation and juxtaposition. Over the course of the 20th century, such modernist techniques would become defining traits of both popular and avant-garde film.Film, in turn, would profoundly influence the work of the contemporary British artist John Stezaker. Using vintage movie stills, along with old postcards and other found materials, Stezaker creates delicate collages that are at once witty, ironic and subtly disturbing.
Next week, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum will present three classic films — all selected by Stezaker himself — as part of its Fringe Figure Film Series. Screenings will include Carol Reed’s The Third Man (March 27), Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (March 28) and Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le Fou (March 29).
The series is held in conjunction with John Stezaker, a retrospective collecting more than 90 of the artist’s works. The exhibition remains on view at the Kemper Art Museum through April 23.
Karen Butler, assistant curator, who coordinated the exhibition for the Kemper Art Museum, points to certain parallels between Stezaker’s art and the selected films. For example, Stezaker’s Third Person Archive, which often depicts unidentified figures passing each other in cityscapes, recalls a famous scene in The Third Man, in which two characters walk past one another without acknowledgement.
“John speaks about his work as being unlike film, but I think he made a connection between these scenes of disconnected individuals,” Butler says. “Pierrot le Fou too has this sense of disconnect or unexpected juxtapositions or actions,” she adds, “though I think the connections [to Stezaker’s work] are perhaps more thematic than structural.”
All three screenings are free and open to the public and begin at 7 p.m. at the Tivoli Theatre, 6350 Delmar Blvd.
The Kemper Art Museum is located near the intersection of Skinker and Forsyth boulevards. Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The museum is closed Tuesdays.
For more information about the film festival or the exhibition, call (314) 935-4523 or visit kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu.
7 p.m. Tuesday, March 27
The Third Man (1949)
Directed by Carol Reed
Based on a screenplay by novelist Graham Greene, this British film noir stars Joseph Cotton as Holly Martins, an American writer traveling to post-war Vienna to take a job with childhood friend Harry Lime. But when Martins arrives, he finds that Lime has been struck by a car and killed. Moreover, Martins soon discovers that his friend was in fact a black marketer, wanted by police, and that his death may have been no accident.
7 p.m. Wednesday, March 28
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock’s macabre masterpiece stars Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, a troubled hotelier who seems excessively dominated by his mother; and Janet Leigh as Marion Crane, a frustrated Phoenix office worker who absconds to California after spontaneously embezzling $40,000. But Crane’s journey comes to a premature end with Hitchcock’s notorious shower scene, leaving a sister and a private detective to retrace her path to the Bates Motel.
7 p.m. Thursday, March 29
Pierrot le Fou (1965)
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Tender and cruel, real and surreal, terrifying and funny: Godard’s Pierrot le Fou (the title translates as “Pete the Madman” or “Crazy Pete”) defies categorization. The story centers on Ferdinand (Jean-Paul Belmondo), a bored Parisian who flees his bourgeois existence with his babysitter and ex-lover, Marianne (Anna Karina). Like an existential Bonnie and Clyde, the couple battles gangsters, gas station attendants and American tourists as they come face to face with their own roles as characters in a pop-cultural landscape.
The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, part of Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, is committed to furthering critical thinking and visual literacy through a vital program of exhibitions, publications and accompanying events. The museum dates back to 1881, making it the oldest art museum west of the Mississippi River. Today it boasts one of the finest university collections in the United States.