As part of the Nice Biennial of Arts 2019 : “The Cinema Odyssey. La Victorine is 100 years old”.
In the early 1960s, kinetic art made its mark in Europe with a double credo: destabilizing perception and making art popular. Trick-of-the-light paintings, motorized lighted reliefs, and dizzying environments changed perception.
Nicknamed «Op Art» in 1964, this avant-garde art was met with a momentous popular success, so much so as to know an exceptional hijaking phenomenon. Whereas advertising agents, designers, major brands and the fashion world seized its exhilarating shapes, cinema gave Op Art an unexpected angle. An art of movement and light, it was both a predecessor, able to sublimate its visual plays, and a follower, which endeavored to swallow it up through its desire for modernity. From dramas to thrillers, filmmakers and decorators drew a language and themes out of it, producing a whole range of «re-uses» in scenery and plot – scenes of hoaxes and dread, sadistic characters or zany handymen, but also extreme experiences: scenes of hallucination, and psychosis.
This exhibition immerses visitors in this passionate story between two arts, punctuated with mockery and misunderstanding, with reciprocal sublimation, with pop or baroque deliveries, as well as collaborations and copycat. With the support of nearly 30 movies, 150 works and documents, it explores the origin and the unspoken aspects of this predatory fascination, and it considers what cinema reveals of its own nature to Op Art. So, it shows the spirit of a decade ruffled by modernity, thirsting for emancipation and haunted by the ghosts of war. This era, full of contradictions, created a completely new aesthetic culminating into the fruitful friction between visual arts and cinema.
Hélène Guenin, director of MAMAC & Pauline Mari, art historian
Head curator: Jean-Jacques Aillagon