Film form transforms the world that is photographed.This position, commonplace today, was a real advance in the silent era and gave cinema artistic respectability, a subject that Arnheim reflected on thoughtfully in the 1933 edition of .
Twenty-Five Years Along Nordisk and the Tableau Aesthetic William Cameron Menzies: One Forceful, Impressive Idea Another Shaw Production: Anamorphic Adventures in Hong Kong Paolo Gioli’s Vertical Cinema (Re)Discovering Charles Dekeukeleire Doing Film History The Hook: Scene Transitions in Classical Cinema Anatomy of the Action Picture Hearing Voices Preface, Croatian edition, DB here: On Monday, at age 102, Rudolf Arnheim died. We see the weeping willow as not just curved but sad; a skyscraper isn’t just tall, it’s aggressively thrusting upward.
You can read his obituary here, and this is a lovely website devoted to his work. Gombrich, who died in 2001, Arnheim brought modern psychological concepts into the study of visual art. Every shape or movement we apprehend has a distinctive flavor and feeling.
He was one of the most important theorists of the visual arts of the last century, and he had enormous impact on how people, including Kristin and me, think about film. His most famous work, (1954, new version 1974) has the sort of magisterial presence that very few books in any era achieve. Indeed, he writes, “expression can be described as the of vision”!
Arnheim delighted in the fact when, visiting a painter’s studio, he would find a spattered copy on the workbench. We have been trained to think of perception as the recording of shapes, distances, hues, motions.
Always in search of greater clarity and point, Arnheim rewrote it in 1957.
Oddly, he didn’t update it: You’ll search in vain for examples from the 1930s, 1940s, or 1950s.
Of the revised edition, entirely rewritten, he noted: All in all, I can only hope that the blue book with Arp’s black eye on the cover will continue to lie dog-eared, annotated, and stained with pigment and plaster on the tables and desks of those actively concerned with the theory and practice of the arts, and that even in its tidier garb it will continue to be admitted to the kind of shoptalk the visual arts need in order to do their silent work (new ed., x). The awareness of these measurable characteristics is really a fairly late accomplishment of the human mind.
He aimed at theory that actively participates in the way artists do their job. Even in the Western man of the twentieth century it presupposes special conditions.
It turns out that the “universalism” of Gestalt theory underwrites diversity no less vigorously than the most ardent postmodernism.
Arnheim saw the same form-giving activity at work in “primitive” art, the art of children, and even the art of the mentally ill.