Fritz Lang’s Nibelungen

December 23, 2012

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Before Metropolis, before M, there was the Nibelungen (1925), a five-hour Nordic-medieval-romance-fantasy like nothing I have ever seen.  The primal storytelling impulse that drives this magnificent set of moving images has petered out today in computer generated extravaganzas of ersatz mythologies dreamed up by an English university professor.

One element of the art design that struck me was that it was like watching the Vienna Succession brought to life.  The sets, costumes, and even the direction often look as if they are lifted right from Gustave Klimt (see the cropped images above) and his contemporaries.  The cinematic results are magnificent, and, strangely, it sheds new, backwards directed light on the sensibility of that fin de siècle art movement.

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That fabulous face…

October 10, 2010

 

The only exception I know is the case,
when I’m out on a quiet spree,
fighting vainly the old ennui
and I suddenly turn and see,
your fabulous face.

I Get a Kick Out of You – Cole Porter

 

An exhibit at The Neue Galerie, that is dedicated to German and Austrian early 20th century art and design branches out from the usual program to bring together the marvelous heads by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, 1736-1783.  A strange fellow – he went mad, it seems.  Certainly, these heads he created were not the stuff of court and bourgeois portraiture of his day.  Ahead of his time?

I have seen pictures and examples of his heads off and on over the years – it was a treat to see so many close up all at once.  The Wiener Werkstatte postcards were nice too.