Return to Previous Page

Film at the Julien Levy Gallery

Filmstrip from Lichtspiel Schwarz-Weiss-Grau
Filmstrip from Lichtspiel Schwarz-Weiss-Grau, 1930
László Moholy-Nagy, American (born Hungary)
[ More Details ]

Like photography, film was integral to the conception of the Julien Levy Gallery. In conjuction with the exhibition Dreaming in Black and White: Photography at the Julien Levy Gallery, film programs are being presented on three Friday evenings in June and July. All shows begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Van Pelt Auditorium and are free with Museum admission, although tickets are required.

  • Program One: Photographer-Filmmakers
    June 30
    Total running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

    The short films in this program were all made by photographers whose work is included in this exhibition. These highly experimental films range from formalist pieces by Ralph Steiner, Francis Bruguiére, and László Moholy-Nagy to social narratives by Paul Strand, Charles Sheeler, and Jay Leyda. Walker Evans’ film notes from his 1932 trip to Tahiti are evocative of those narratives, but are not organized into a linear story. His lyrical imagery parallels the Surrealist films by Julien Levy and Joseph Cornell. Cornell is something of an exception in this group: he never made photographs himself, but he incorporated photography into many of his works. Similarly, in his films he often used found footage such as the film of a sinking ship in Jack’s Dream.

    At least two of these films were shown at the Julien Levy Gallery. Levy organized the American premiere of Moholy-Nagy’s Lichtspiel schwarz-weiss-grau in 1932, and he screened Leyda’s Bronx Morning at his gallery during the 1932 exhibition Surréalisme.

    Film Program

    • Ralph Steiner, H2O, 1929 (14 minutes)
    • Francis Bruguière and Oswell Blakeston, Light Rhythms, 1930 (5 minutes)
    • Man Ray, Emak Bakia, 1926 (20 minutes)
    • László Moholy-Nagy, Lichtspiel schwarz-weiss-grau, 1930 (6 minutes)
    • Joseph Cornell, Jack’s Dream, 1930s (6 minutes)
    • Julien Levy, Portrait de Max Ernst, c. 1930 (12 minutes)
    • Walker Evans, Travel Notes, 1932 (12 minutes)
    • Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler, Manhatta, 1920 (6 minutes)
    • Jay Leyda, A Bronx Morning, 1931 (11 minutes)

  • Program Two: Avant-Garde Circles
    July 14
    Total running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

    From 1927 on, Julien Levy was friends with many of the leading European artists and writers of his time. His participation in avant-garde circles is seen in the 1947 Hans Richter film Dreams That Money Can Buy, a surrealist dream story that features a cameo appearance by Levy, and includes segments contributed by Max Ernst, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Leger, and Alexander Calder. As a prelude to this feature-length film we will also show an earlier, more technically experimental film by Richter, Rhythmus 21, and Marcel Duchamp’s famous film Anémic Cinéma, which Levy screened at his gallery in 1936 and 1938. Duchamp’s film features circles of another sort: rotating discs printed with mesmerizing patterns and his well-known puns.

    Film Program

    • Hans Richter, Rhythmus 21, 1921 (4 minutes)
    • Marcel Duchamp, Anémic Cinema, 1924–26 (7 minutes)
    • Hans Richter, Dreams that Money Can Buy, 1947 (1 hour, 20 minutes)

  • Program Three: Hollywood Idols
    July 28
    Total running time: 1 hour, 51 minutes

    Julien Levy considered photography and film among the most important artistic mediums of the modern period, but he also loved popular photography and movies. This can be seen in his fascinating collections of press photos, movie stills, and bygone celebrity portraits on view in the exhibition. It is also evident in his taste for Hollywood productions. According to his memoirs, Levy’s favorite screen starlet of the 1920s and ‘30s was Gloria Swanson, who stars in the program feature, Leo McCarey’s 1931 comedy of manners, Indiscreet. Opening the program is Joseph Cornell’s short film Rose Hobart, which was screened at the Julien Levy Gallery in 1936. Like Levy, Cornell loved Hollywood movies, and he worshipped certain actresses, including Miss Hobart. His 19-minute film is lovingly made with found footage from one of her films, the 1931 adventure East of Borneo, directed by George Melford.

    Film Program

    • Joseph Cornell, Rose Hobart, 1936 (19 minutes)
    • Indiscreet, 1931 (Leo McCarey film starring Gloria Swanson, 1 hour, 32 minutes)

    Screenings of these films are made possible thanks to the generous funding of the Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

    Films are subject to change without notice. Please note: many of the films were made with handheld cameras and may cause discomfort for those sensitive to motion.


    Return to Previous Page