Visuel kultur/Kunsthistorie/moderne kultur/Lit.vid./Teater: Film and Modernism


While the invention of the motion picture represents perhaps the greatest technological advance in visual representation since the development of artificial perspective in the fifteenth century,  its relationship to the other modernist arts was complicated by its popular appeal and the naturalism of its imagery.  From a general historical perspective everything about film is “modern” (its automatized mechanicity, its reproducibility, the way it lends itself to industrial production scaling, its roots in a distinctly modern scientific understanding of perceptual experience) yet it would appear that by its very nature film was unable to play a significant role in the twentieth-century adventure of “modern art.”  


Early in medium's career, before the advent of synchronized sound, artists, film makers and theorists attempted to bring film into line with the formalizing, anti-narrative, anti-representational tendencies of modern painting with mixed success. Movements in modern art more open to the possibilities of representation in art, namely German expressionism and Surrealism, proved more congenial for film makers eager to participate in the experiments of avant-garde art. 


Film also played a significant role in the unraveling of modernist formalism in the 1960s, most especially by its use in Pop art.  This course organizes the history of the sometimes uneasy and complex relationship of film to modernism in the visual arts around five critical themes each focusing on a different period in the history of film from the 1860s to the 1960s.


The course samples from a wide range of cinematic traditions and genres, including work by Akira Kurosawa, Dziga Vertov, Alexander Dovzhenko, Andy Warhol, Fritz Lang, Luis Buñuel, Lucrecia Martel, Alfred Hitchcock, Jean Painlevé, Sergei Eisenstein, Michael Snow, Stan Brakhage, Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Bresson, Tsai-Ming Liang, Orson Welles, Sam Fuller, Man Ray, Paul Strand, Carl Dreyer, Yvonne Rainer, Joseph Cornell, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Douglas Sirk, F.W. Murnau, Hans Richter. The reading for the course is both historical and theoretical and includes texts by André Bazin, Clement Greenberg, Tom Gunning, Jean Epstein, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Rancière, Laura Mulvey, Gilberto Perez, Tania Modleski, Georges Canguilhem, Jean-Louis Baudry, Walter Benjamin, Jacques Lacan, Manny Farber, Jonathan Crary, Dziga Vertov, Michael Fried, André Breton. 


No previous experience in the history, theory or analysis of film is required or expected for this course.

Engelsk titel

Art history and Visuel cultury/Modern Culture/Compartive Literature/Theatre: Film and Modernism


Kurset kan også tages af studerende på


  1. Enkeltstående bachelortilvalg 2019 på Institut for Kunst- og Kulturvidenskab som Frit emne 1 og Frit emne 2 (kunsthistorie og visuel kultur)



  2. Enkeltstående kandidattilvalg 2019 på Institut for Kunst- og Kulturvidenskab – Frit emne (kunsthistorie og visuel kultur)


Lecture, Seminar, Screenings

Gilberto Perez, The Material Ghost: Films and Their Medium, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press 1998.

André Bazin, What is Cinema? Volume 1, Berkeley: University of California Press 2004 (2nd edition). 

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