Download Museum Movies: The Museum of Modern Art and the Birth of Art Cinema PDF

TitleMuseum Movies: The Museum of Modern Art and the Birth of Art Cinema
ISBN 139781417593385
CategoryArts - Film
File Size1.5 MB
Total Pages331
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
1. Making Cinema a Modern Art
2. Mannered Cinema / Mobile Theaters: film exhibition, 16 mm, and the new audience ideal
3. The Mass Museology of the Modern
4. An Awkward and Dangerous Task: the film library takes shape
5. Rearguard Exhibition: the film library’s circulating programs
6. Enduring Legacies
Appendix: Film Programs of the Museum of Modern Art, 1934-1949
Document Text Contents
Page 165

by archives and museums. In the case of the Film Library, the term itself—
film art—was strategically deployed in order to initiate and achieve the
complex material and ideological goals of an emergent film institution. Af-
ter the war, these debates took on a more rigid form as film art institutions
grew and began to further organize around such distinctions as art cinema
and commercial cinema, or foreign films and American films. The institu-
tional history of the Film Library predates these organizations and thus
sheds some light on the porosity of the concept of film art itself during this
important period in film history; film art was marked more by heterogene-
ity and compromise rather than homogeneity and idealism. The irony is, of
course, that the Film Library had little choice but to undertake negotiations
in this manner. Not only was its funding base tenuous and the legal system
built up around film unfriendly to nonprofit cultural or educational view-
ing, but honoring the history of film in all its contradictions necessarily
implied inheriting the contradictions of film itself.

148 / An Awkward and Dangerous Task

Page 166

5 Rearguard Exhibition
The Film Library’s Circulating Programs


As a small and ill-fitting piece of the much larger museum puzzle, the Film
Library lacked a secure foundation on which to grow. During its first four
years, the library was not housed in the larger museum building and did
not have its own theater. All other museum departments were located in an
impressive three-story Rockefeller brownstone at 11 West Fifty-third
Street, which only several years later would be torn down to make room
for the much larger, iconic Goodwin-Stone building (1939). The young
Film Library was structurally and spatially dislocated from other museum
departments. Its finances were managed separately, its relationship to other
museum operations seemed somewhat mysterious. Long the awkward
cousin of the painting, sculpture, and even architecture and design depart-
ments, the Film Library conducted its activities from an office that was
blocks away from the primary museum site. They used a storage closet as a
screening room.

Establishing lasting museum sanction and ensuring continued sup-
port from the Rockefeller Foundation was—among all other things—
dependent on substantiating library utility to each organization’s respec-
tive ambitions. Because the library was largely funded by a grant from the
noted philanthropy, satisfying the foundation’s mandate and granting cri-
teria—in this instance, creating an audience for educational film—became
an immediate priority. Winning museum approval equally depended on
adapting film library goals to the museum’s aims. This included sanction of
film art but also helping to transform the museum into a mobile and na-
tional educational institution. In other words, library staff had to find an
audience in order to secure its place as a permanent rather than passing
museum phase. Building a sustained infrastructure for film distribution
and exhibition was imperative to this effort. Changing museum practice in

Page 330

Ten Days That Shook the World
(1927), 168

Theater Arts Monthly, 39
Theatre Arts, 14
Thief of Bagdad, The (1924), 178
35mm: films, 4; and MoMA Film Li-

brary, 20; reduced to 16mm, 4,
230n58. See also film technology

Thrasher, Frederic, 54
Three Little Pigs, The (1933), 103
Three Musketeers, The (1931), 176
Thunder over Mexico (1933), 104
Time, 92
Totalitarian Communications Re-

search Project, 142
Trip to the Moon, A (1902), 156
Triumph of the Will (1934), 140, 168
Twentieth Century–Fox, 52, 138–39;

educational department, 51

Un Chien Andalou (1929), 61, 117
Underworld (1927), 17, 157
Unholy Three, The (1924), 157
United Artists, 139
Universal Picture Company, 138;

nontheatrical department, 51
universities, 3
University Film Foundation, 231n60
University of Iowa, 55
University of California, Berkeley, 164
University of California, Los Angeles

(UCLA), 55, 215n29
University of Southern California

(USC), 54–55, 215n29
U.S. Bureau of Mines, 79
U.S. Department of Agriculture, 114
U.S. Department of Commerce, 36
utopianism, 215n30

Valentino, Rudolph, 124, 176
van Gogh, Vincent, 91, 92–93
Vanity Fair (1915), 179
Vanity Fair (magazine), 14, 87, 92; “A

Modern Art Questionnaire,” 88
Van Zile, Edward, 53
Variety (1925), 117

Variety (serial), 104, 135
Vassar College, 114, 164
VCR, 36
Vertov, Dziga, 168; and film dis-

courses, 13
VHS format, 5, 191
Viacom International, 192
Victor Animatograph, 46–47
Victrola records, 87
Vidor, King, 119, 139
Visual Education, 55
von Sternberg, Josef, 17, 157
von Stroheim, Erich, 17, 152, 157

Wadsworth Athenaeum, 106–7
Wanger, Walter, 130
Warburg, Edward, 70; justification of

MoMA Film Library, 125
Warner Brothers, 52, 138–39
Warning Shadows (1922), 165
Wash Day Troubles (1896), 156
Washington Film Society, 119
Washington University, 164
Watson, James Sibley, 63, 104
Webber, Melville, 63, 104
Wegener, Paul, 117, 157
Weill, Kurt, 61
Weinberg, Herman, 39, 64, 174
Wellesley College, 86
Wellman, William, 138, 152
West, Mae, 104; films at MoMA Film

Library, 22
Whistler, James, 185
White, Pearl, 176
White House, 169
Whitney, Gertrude Vanderbilt, 75, 106
Whitney, John Hay, 92, 106, 112–13,

120, 251n119; and Pickfair event,

Whitney Museum, 75, 106
Whitney Studio Club, 75, 106
Wiene, Robert, 117, 157, 171, 211n14
Wiener, Norbert, 143
Wild Boys of the Road (1933), 152
William and Mary College, 164
Williams, Raymond, 73–74

Index / 313

Page 331

Wilson, Norman, 59
Wind, The (1928), 157
Winton, Roy, 40, 232n70
Wollheim, Louis, 132
Women’s Motion Picture Society of

Japan, 114
Workers Film and Photo League

(WFPL), 40, 42, 61–62, 114; activi-
ties, 62; and film gauge, 62,
236n101; and film studies, 54; li-
brary of films, 62–63; manifesto of,

Workers’ International Relief, 62
Workers’ Theater, 62
Works Progress Administration

(WPA), 118
World Film News and Television

Progress, 14

World’s Fair of 1939, 176
World-Telegram, 171
World Wide Web, 191
Worsley, Wallace, 176
Wright, Basil, 163
writing about cinema, transformation

of, 3

Yale University, 52, 230n60
YMCA, 9, 233n79; and film reviews

and evaluations, 13; and museums,
68, 77

You Only Live Once (1937), 153,

Young People’s Gallery, 246n80

Zimmerman, Patricia, 237n111
Zukor, Adolph, 53, 128

314 / Index

Similer Documents