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© RIA Novosti. Vladimir Astapkovich

Shining talent

by at 05/12/2011 20:18

Stanley Kubrick. History in Photographs 1945-1950

Until Jan. 29 at the Multimedia Art Museum, 16 Ul. Ostozhenka, m. Kropotkinskaya, www.mdf.ru
Open Tue.-Sun. noon-9 pm, closed Mon.

It’s not widely known that the director of “Spartacus,” “A Clockwork Orange,” “Full Metal Jacket” and “The Shining” was a talented street photographer whose works stand up next to the classics of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau. The Multimedia Art Museum/ Moscow House of Photography is now showing more than 200 photos by Stanley Kubrick, some of them previously unpublished, for the first time in Moscow.

‘Betsy,’ 1950

© Photo / Iccarus/Rainer Crone, Munich, Germany

‘Betsy,’ 1950

Born in 1928 in New York to a Jewish family, Kubrick received his first camera from his father at the age of 13. The boy wasn’t interested in the usual teenage activities and, according to family friends, was “bookish, bright and neurotic.” No wonder he got enamored with the new toy, and went strolling around the city shooting everything his saw.

Apparently the future film director’s vision was already cinematic, noticing many small details and brief emotions. In 1945, the 17-yearold Kubrick sold his first photo to Look magazine. It was a picture taken on the day of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death, showing a newspaper seller surrounded by the headlines announcing the tragic news and overwhelmed by it. In a year Kubrick became Look’s staff photographer.

His collaboration with the magazine lasted until 1950, when he made his first 16-millimeter documentary film. When Kubrick was asked about his transition from a photographer to a film director, he often stated that he could not have been the filmmaker without a “photographer’s eye.”

“To make a film entirely by yourself, which I initially did, you may not have to know very much about anything else, but you must know about photography,” he said.

‘Circus,’ 1948

© Photo / Iccarus/Rainer Crone, Munich, Germany

‘Circus,’ 1948

The photos at the exhibition are divided in such series as “Etudes in the Metro” shot with a small hidden gadget in a pocket, “The Story of the Shoe Shine Boy,” “Family Circus” and “An Evening at Copacabana” showing the backstage life of dancers.

Every picture is made not only by a master of light and shadows, but by a story-teller. “Dialogues with Shadows” features photos taken at theatres, where actors talk to invisible people of whom we see only the shadows. A picture of diners at a posh restaurant with an excessive feast is followed by one of children from a poor family, licking their plates after dinner. Here is the unique style of Kubrick that some media called “detached disgust.”

The most renowned movies of Kubrick are screening in the museum’s cinema hall within the exhibition. As “Full Metal Jacket” actor Matthew Modine once wrote: “It makes sense Kubrick has a photography background. His films are visually amazing, everything is so carefully framed and lit.”

The curator is Rainer Crone, an art historian and a former professor of Columbia University, who has already shown the exhibition in France and Germany.

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