Picasso and Artistic Variation

Picasso was obsessed with Manet´s painting from 1863, “Lunch on the Grass” (“Déjeuner sur l´herbe”). This may be witnessed in the great exhibition that just opened in Parisian Musée d’Orsay. Until February 1st 2009, more than 40 of the variations, copies, interpretations, whatever you wish to call them, made by Picasso, can be seen circling around Manet’s painting that has, by the way, also been an inspiration for Jean Renoir, who made a film with the same title.

An obsession, one of many that came from Picasso, who often made several of the works in one day. And you understand why the master wrote – on the back of an envelope – probably in 1932: “When I see Manet’s Lunch on the Grass I tell myself there is pain ahead”.

Artistic repetitions and variations of the same theme in documentary films… Where do we find them? I had this thought when I watched Picasso. I thought of Jørgen Leth and his two America-films, “66 Scenes from America” and “New Scenes from America”. The camerawork of Dan Holmberg is in both cases much more linked to visual art than to narrative (literary) structures. I thought of Steen Møller Rasmussen, also a Danish documentarian, who has searched to catch New York, inspired heavily by Leth as a filmmaker and Robert Frank as a filmmaker and photographer. I thought of Sergey Dvortsevoy and his Russian images, full of atmospheres and different moods, as are the Danes I mention above. And as are Picasso´s variations. Could it be possible to talk more about film and (visual) art?   

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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