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Hitchcock and Art:
Fatal Coincidences at the Pompidou Centre

Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock
Photo courtesy of Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou , Paris

By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 6 July 2001 - Paris is currently enjoying Hitchcock et l'art: coincidences fatales, the exciting and innovative exhibition conceived and shown in Montreal last year. The show, which establishes parallels between Alfred Hitchcock's films and the visual arts, brings together over two hundred paintings by Magritte, Dali, and Klee, photographs of actual filming sessions and many film extracts including fascinating home movies of the master himself relaxing with his wife and daughter. His thrillers have virtually been 'hung' on the walls.

Swept into the Hitchcockian universe on arrival, the visitor steps into a large hall plunged into obscurity. Seemingly insignificant objects taken from his films, the initialled cigarette lighter from 'Strangers on a Train', a pair of glinting scissors from Dial M for Murder, Carlotta Valdes' jewels from Vertigo, and Marnie's little yellow bag are theatrically displayed on blood-red satin in glass cases, each highlighted by a single sharp spotlight. The up-ended bread-knife from Blackmail almost quivers as you thread your way through the unexpected lay-out to music from "Psycho, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and North by Northwest.

The exhibition spaces here simply lend themselves to serving the very nature of Hitchcockian cinema, and each area has a theme, preparing for, yet menacing the one following. Suspense is guaranteed by the reconstruction of the whole set of Psycho down to the shadow behind the shower curtain.

A coherent demonstration of how Hitchcock was influenced by Victorian England is also given and the visitor enters the study, and the darkened world of Edgar Allan Poe, one of the master's favourite authors. Works by Beardsley, Rackham, Redon and Martini abound. A brief extract from Rebecca showing Manderley's neo-gothic castle is projected on a large screen, while Edward Hopper's masterpiece, Lighthouse Hill, looms nearby.

Edward Hopper: Lighthouse Hill
Edward Hopper: Lighthouse Hill 1927
Photo courtesy of Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Paris

Yet another area is dedicated to Hitchcock's women with their small perfect features, blondness, and coldness, incarnated by Grace Kelly, Tippi Hedren, Eva Marie Saint and Kim Novak, and their love scenes, filmed as though they were murders, are projected on the walls.

Hitchcock: Vertigo
James Stewart and Kim Novak in Vertigo
Photo courtesy of Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Paris

Emphasis has also been given to Alfred Hitchcock's collaboration with Salvador Dali, culminating in the film, Spellbound, and the show closes with the flutter of wings, where The Birds, surely one of the most famous films in the history of cinema, reigns. Perched on high, many of them, and reflected in mirrors surrounding the unsuspecting visitor.

6 June - 24 September 2001
Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou
Paris, France
Open every day, 11h to 21h except Tuesday.
Tel: (33) 1 44 78 12 33

Patricia Boccadoro is a senior editor at Culturekiosque.

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