Making Movies into Art: Picture Craft from the Magic Lantern to Early Hollywood

Making Movies into Art: Picture Craft from the Magic Lantern to Early Hollywood

by Kaveh Askari


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


Focusing on early cinema's relationship with the pictorial arts, this pioneering study explores how cinema's emergence was grounded in theories of picture composition, craft and arts education – from magic lantern experiments in 1890s New York through to early Hollywood feature films in the 1920s.

Challenging received notions that the advent of cinema was a celebration of mechanisation and a radical rejection of nineteenth-century traditions of representation, Kaveh Askari instead emphasises the overlap between craft traditions and modernity in early film.

Opening up valuable new perspectives on the history of film as art, Askari links American silent cinema with the practice of teaching the public how to appreciate fine art; charts its entrance into arts education via art schools and university film courses;
shows how concepts of artistic production entered films through a material interest in the studio; and examines the way in which Maurice Tourneur and Rex Ingram made early art films by shaping an image of the film director around the idea of the fine artist.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781844576951
Publisher: BFI Publishing
Publication date: 01/02/2015
Series: Cultural Histories of Cinema Series
Edition description: 2014
Pages: 182
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Kaveh Askari is Associate Professor of Film Studies at Western Washington University, USA. He is the author of numerous articles on early cinema.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments.- Introduction.- Rewinding art cinema.- Situating cinema among the other arts.- Craft, picture, movement.- Aesthetic appreciation and the modernity of picture craft.- Chapter organization.- 1 Moving-picture Art before Cinema: Alexander Black and the Lyceum The amateur and the institute The detective lectures and the instantaneous tableau From 'the horse in motion' to 'man in motion' Picture play aesthetics: still pictures as moving pictures Picture play reception: art cinema without the cinematograph Conclusion: a history without an invention.- 2 Moving Pictures Imagine the Artist's Studio The mise en scène of the studio The moving image jumps the frame Trilbyana: Transformation and absorption Lejaren à Hiller's Never-told Tales of a Studio Triart Picture Company: From Trilbyana to art history Conclusion: patchwork methods, common goal.- 3 Cinema Composition: The University and the Industry Picture study: from the art lecture to the film lecture Movement, contemplation and the 'tableau' Managing tableaux: the economics of film spectatorship Beyond the tableau: inscribing movement Conclusion: moving pictures and new tendencies.- 4 Painting with Human Beings: Maurice Tourneur as Art-film Director In the atelier of Puvis Quality films, imported film-makers The Blue Bird: From The Yellow Book to the yellow press Conclusion: Tourneur after 1920.- 5 Rex Ingram's Art School Cinema The oldest art school and the newest art From exceptional style to cross-media appreciation Scaramouche, or convergence Conclusion: the limits of exceptional films Conclusion: Moving Forward from the Slow Movie.- Notes.- Index.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

A major contribution to film history and theory, and film's relation to other media.' – Tom Gunning, University of Chicago, USA

'This enterprising work will ultimately transform our understanding of cinema's early artistic tendencies. Kaveh Askari's examination of how film intersected with academia, the lyceum circuit, and the art studio brings to light institutional connections that reveal novel functions for a medium struggling for cultural legitimacy.' – Charlie Keil, University of Toronto, Canada

Customer Reviews