TSAH at the Movies

clothed maja goya

Goya's "Clothed Maja"

That’s right – I’ve decided I’ve been blogging long enough to make myself into an acronym, but I already digress. I have a confession.  I have never actually watched an artist biopic.  Granted, they tend to fly under the radar and go straight to DVD sometimes, but I still haven’t even gone near Caravaggio, Artemesia, Goya’s Ghosts, or that one where Robert Pattinson has a reeedeeculous mustache.  I do however enjoy talking about art in movies that are not specifically about art.  It is a truth universally acknowledged that academic types like pointing out obscure references, so…

Asia Argento in "The Last Mistress"

I learned today that sometimes the internet lets you down.  I was looking for a very specific (and somewhat well known) screen shot from “The Last Mistress” and instead had to wade through a sea of the film’s sex scenes and did not find it.  You can sort of see it here at around 3o seconds.   Asia Argento’s character, Vellini, is all dressed up like Goya’s Clothed Maja.  She is also striking the Maja’s pose.  Back in the day, the painting was hung over Goya’s Naked Maja so the unsavory version could be revealed at any time.  I’m not sure if the film’s director Catherine Breillat knew this story, but I think it’s a fitting metaphor for Argento’s character.  Vellini knows how to play the game of appearing like a well to do woman, but underneath lie her “naked,” primitive desires.  I highly recommend the entire film.  It’s a beautiful and emotionally draining look at the very fine line between love and hate.  And it has this guy.

I love it when films incorporate art as a sort of “easter egg.”  It’s one thing to mention artists and paintings in period pieces as a context setter, but it’s even better when directors sneak in little references like this.  It really speaks to the lasting influence of visual arts on cinema.  Expect this to be a regular feature, because I’ll always have an eye out for bits of fine art in the movies.

I’ll leave you with one more confession.  I am now sorely tempted to watch Robert Pattinson and his reedeeculous mustache.

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This entry was posted in Art History, European Art, film and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to TSAH at the Movies

  1. Eural says:

    I came here expecting some euridite scholarly art criticism and instead I see nothing but smut! I’m outraged – especially by that French dandies softly erotic features. On a related note there is some very slight chance that we may be bringing back the AP Euro class next year. I wouldn’t bet on it but it has come up in scheduling discussions.

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