PRINT September 2007


Film and Early Modernism

LONG AGO IN THESE PAGES, Annette Michelson wrote that “almost all the major authentic movements and styles of [the twentieth] century—Futurism, Surrealism, Dadaism, Constructivism—reacted to the growth of cinema.” Each saw in film’s capacity for spatial and temporal manipulation ways of solving problems and furthering goals first articulated in other media. This was certainly true of Hans Richter, a member of Zurich Dada in the late 1910s, and Viking Eggeling, both of whom began to employ film in addition to drawing in the ’20s in their search for a universal language, as a recent exhibition at Maya Stendhal Gallery in New York demonstrated. Some historians have gone further, however, arguing not just that modernist movements turned to the cinema at certain moments in their development but that film helped give rise to such movements; this was the thesis of another exhibition on

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