The relationship between Kubrick and painting

The relationship between Kubrick and painting

There is a close relationship between Kubrick's movies and visual arts, especially since 2001: A Space Odyssey. Each image of Kubrick's films stems from in-depth studies, becoming an essential visual experience, therefore, linked to the needs of a rigorous and very meticulous intervention. It is well known that Kubrick, in Barry Lyndon (1975), has admirably reconstructed the vicissitudes of the main character making ample reference to the English iconography of the eighteenth century, with the firm conviction that art is the only faithful repertoire for those who wish to recreate in images events projected into a distant past. The whole Barry Lyndon's movie is built on the basis of a vast archive of drawings and paintings by Constable, Reynolds, Longhi, Bellotto, Gainsborough, Hogarth, Fussli ...


Colonel John Hayes St. Leger and Lord Heathfield, both painted by Joshua Reynolds, inspired the characters of Captain Grogan and Raymond Barry. In addition, Lady Sheffield by Gainsborough was one of the models used to create Lady Lyndon.


Equally interesting are the references to certain situations, some indirectly eyeing the pictorial images, others directly calculating on the figurative matrix. An example of the first case is the sequence of Lady Lyndon's walk with her husband, son and preceptor, which has the same tones as Gainsborough's Morning Walk. In the second case we can mention the particular from Mariage à la mode (scene II), by Hogarth, for the position taken by Raymond Barry, lying on a chair and dazed by alcohol; and The nightmare (1783), by Fussli, for the framing of poisoned Lady Lyndon. In this last case, there is a total identification: the same color is divided into chiaroscuro masses, in cinere tones, there is the same intonations of anxiety and anguish, the same position of the lithe body under the sheets. In 2001: A Space Odyssey the landscape visions have an illustrious reference in the painting of Mondrian, which in Dune (1910) created true mental colors, far from any realistic reproduction of nature.

The hallways of light, however, are the same we can see in the paintings of Allen Jones. The futuristic environments of A Clockwork Orange (1971) are born on the wave of Pop - art and have many similarities with the architecture and sculpture of the Sixties. Still in the same movie, the woman's apartment contains elements of contemporary art: from the chalk phallus, clearly referable to Princess, by Brancusi , to the nude woman paintings, one of which recalls Wesselman's Great American nude. Also in Shining (1980), the labyrinthine construction of the Overlook Hotel recalls many works of current architecture. Kubrick himself confessed that he was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright in the construction of the hotel's toilets. Also the salon, where Nicholson writes, echoes that of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.

Even if Kubrick sees in the exasperated subjectivism of contemporary art a negative tendency, there is no doubt that his movies bear witness to a continuous contact with painting and sculpture, in its most advanced forms.

Posted on 02/06/2019 Art Blog 541