PRINT Summer 1986


The Art of Filming Painting: Derek Jarman and Caravaggio, Peter Greenaway and Jan Vermeer, Paul Leduc and Frida Kahlo.

WHEN IT'S NOT EXPLORING the crude reality of daily life, film sometimes turns its eyes on art—on art history, on esthetic philosophy, on literature, on itself. A recent example was The Draughtsman’s Contract, 1982, by the Englishman Peter Greenaway, the contemporary master of bafflingly speculative, perfectly conceived (and designed) cinema. The movie tells the story of a 17th-century draughtsman and of the challenge his art poses to aristocratic British society. A whodunit in powdered wigs, it is a sort of allegorical marriage between Agatha Christie and the Marquis de Sade, but it is also, more abstractly, what Greenaway calls a “film about twelve drawings”—a puzzle, coolly and precisely arranged, about art, cinema, and the nature of perception.

A number of films on art were shown at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, ranging from a biography of the painter Frida Kahlo to Greenaway’s latest

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