On reflection…


Mr. Savage, of Swiftly Tilting Planet fame, commented on my recent post about my visit to the Frick Museum.  He mentioned the reflection in the mirror in the painting shown here.  That got me thinking about how often artists use mirrors in their work, to deepen the meaning, to add interest, or to display their virtuosity.  Some favorites here:

A mirror is sort of like an ironic painting – it’s flat, it creates an illusion of a world beyond, except it’s the real world.  For centuries, painting was preoccupied with creating that illusionistic realm, behind the flat picture-plane.  With perspective, they could make it appear as it appeared to us.  The concept had legs – Stendhal famously compared a novel, his anyway, to a mirror being carried along a road, reflecting the life around it.  Well, it’s easy to go on, but I’d be repeating myself…

3 Responses to On reflection…

  1. Guy Savage says:

    I recently watched The Bells of Autumn–a Soviet film based on one of Pushkin’s fairy tales. The story is very like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, but instead of the dwarves we get seven knights.
    Anyway, in one scene the wicked stepmother is reflected in the mirrors she has covering an entire wall. This scene made me think of the mirror sequence in The Lady From Shanghai, and the clever way in which mirrors can really add to the atmosphere in film.

    • Lichanos says:

      Yes, and I wonder if they pose difficulties for the filming? How do you film a mirror without showing up in it?

      In Lady from Shanghai, the mirrors in the funhouse sequence seem to amplify Welles’ character as completely confused chump. Love that film!

  2. Ducky's here says:

    And bless Manet for reminding us that the canvas is flat.

    Try Fassbinder’s “Effie Briest”. Good film and maybe he uses mirror shots too often to show off but they’re often more than just camera tricks.

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