Art on Screen Databasetm Full Record

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Alternate Title:
Original Title:
Series Title: Gombrich Themes; Part 1
Edition Version:
Data: 26 min. col. 16mm; video
Year: 1989
Country of Prod'n: United States; Great Britain
Language: English
Producing Agency: Landseer Film & Television Productions Ltd. for the Program for Art on Film, a joint venture of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The J. Paul Getty Trust
Sources: Program for Art on Film; Films Incorporated Video
Int'l Sources:
Director: Judy Marle
Producer: Judy Marle
Executive Producer:
Camera: Nick Gifford
Editor: Gregory Harris
Music Composer:
Art Consultant: Sir Ernst Gombrich
Addl Credits:
Synopsis: In this two-part program, British art historian Sir Ernst Gombrich (b.1909) of the Warburg Institute, University of London, discusses the natural phenomenon of light and its representation in a wide range of Western European art. Filmed in 1988 in Sir Ernst's London home, where he shows us numerous objects and works of art to illustrate his points about how artists have depicted light. In Part One, on illumination, Sir Ernst discusses the rendering of shadows and how the direction of the source of light creates different effects. He shows examples of modeling and hatching--techniques that enable the artist to depict the relationship between light and shade. Passages from the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci give insight into the artist's study of illumination. Sir Ernst contrasts the soft lighting used by Leonardo with the dramatic lighting effects of Georges de La Tour. He also comments on the representation of divine and natural light in a nativity scene by Rembrandt, and the psychological effects of light in landscapes, such as Jan Vermeer's View of Delft. Many of the paintings shown were filmed from the originals in the National Gallery, London. A film by director Judy Marle and Sir Ernst Gombrich. Gombrich Themes series, Part 1 of 2.
Genre Film: Criticism
Aud./Grade Level: General
Suggested Uses: General Information; Teaching
Subject Headings: Aesthetics -- Europe -- Great Britain -- England -- 20C

Assoc Concepts: Light; Perception
Artist's Name: Gombrich, Sir Ernst Hans Josef (b.1909), British art historian
Artist on Camera: No
Evaluation: A serious attempt to "sit at the feet" of a great art scholar and capture the intimacy of a tutorial. Intelligent and highly appropriate for the subject: an excellent synthesis of form and content. Eye-opening in directing or focusing our vision of the world--for example, making us concentrate on the effects of light and shadow as an artist might. Brings the viewer to a greater consciousness of visual perception; one realizes the real importance of light in art. Visuals continually support the narration in subtle yet dramatic ways. Although there is no introduction to him, Gombrich himself is the real treasure of the film. He dwells on one aspect of light--modeling--and not on the luminescence of Titian through the impressionists. Some will wish for more details; he manages to cover the important issues yet leaves enough questions in the spectator's mind to encourage further research and reading. Technical quality, content, and programming potential all judged very good.

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