CYPRIENGAILLARD—ROOTS CANAL is an exhibition of the films, photographs, and sculptures by the artist—mostly from the last five years—that “describe and evoke the perpetual destruction, preservation, and reconstruction of [our] urban spaces.”*
The show includes Gaillard’s excavator heads—on view in Europe for the first time—and the Sober City Polaroid series.
In its expression of the epic, cinema has shifted from the battlefield to the computer, generating worlds beyond belief from bits of code. Hollywood—forever wary of the shrinking screen—embraced the live-action epic as a foundational genre, grown spectacular in the 1950s in a thwarted attempt to divert audiences from their newly purchased television sets. Millions of dollars were spent, millions were often lost, and even the masters of the form—Cecil B. DeMille, Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurosawa, David Lean—were constrained by time, budget, and the whims of their producers.
No such limitations impeded the completion of Sergey Bondarchuk’s WAR AND PEACE (1966), the greatest epic in cinematic history and a Cold War triumph of Soviet filmmaking. This seven-hour retelling of Leo Tolstoy’s work was filmed over the course of five years, cost $100,000,000 (pre-inflation), and employed over 100,000 actors—including regiments of Red Army troops who precisely re-enacted Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.
So, the battles are here—as is the jaw-dropping sacking and burning of Moscow—but so are the day-to-day dramas of Bondarchuk’s three aristocratic protagonists: Prince Andrei (VyacheslavTikhonov), Natasha (dancer LudmilaSavelyeva), and Pierre (Bondarchuk himself). For Tolstoy, WAR AND PEACE was more of a philosophical explication than a novel, and Bondarchuk does not neglect the author’s theoretical digressions motivation, will, memory, and regret.
This weekend in Santa Monica, the American Cinematheque presents a screening of a new digital restoration of this four-part masterpiece, with an encore in Hollywood in April.
War and Peace stills courtesy Mosfilm. From top: firing squad; LudmilaSavelyeva (right) as Natasha at her first society ball; VyacheslavTikhonov, as Andrei, on the battlefield (2); religious procession.
“I was always pro-artist because I was well aware that what I knew about art I learned from artists—not from criticism… [Robert Smithson] went to Max’s Kansas City every other night, and he’d bring a question to be discussed; he’d come ready to talk. I was there rarely, but I love to argue, so I’d argue with him… I liked him, but I always said he was a more important writer than he was an artist, and that pissed him off—for good reason, I guess.” — Lucy Lippard*
Following a Getty Center screening of RobertSmithson’s Spiral Jetty and Charles and Ray Eames’s Powers of Ten—in conjunction with an exhibition on monumentality—TacitaDean, Edward Ranney, and writer-activist Lucy Lippard will talk about their engagement with land art.
“I’ve always liked what feels like the impossibility of writing about images, and I always welcome the chance to mess around with form in ways that try to address that… Writing parallel to art, or collaborating with it, is what I’ve been trying to do, and it’s certainly more fun than just acting alone.” — Lippard*
From top: El Anatsui, Flag for a New World Power, 2004, aluminum and copper wire; El Anatsui, courtesy the artist; ElAnatsui, Gravity and Grace, 2010, aluminum and copper wire. Images courtesy the artist and Haus der Kunst.