Orsay goes back to the origins of cinema

Something, in the way man looks at the world, came into turmoil in the 19th century.e century. Spectacular development of cities, densification of crowds, proliferation of attractions, deployment of machines, acceleration of time. Everything already testifies to what makes the city a kind of life-size screen, and of which the cinema will soon discover itself the medium par excellence. Painting, sculpture, photography, posters, signs, wax museums, fairs, everything suddenly seems to combine to perfect the imitation of life, to grasp the ubiquity of its movement.

This is how cinema was born, conditioned by the bubbling of arts and techniques challenged by a new optical reality. This vision of the 7e art is at the heart of the fascinating exhibition opening at the Musée d’Orsay, entitled “Finally cinema! Arts, images and shows in France 1833-1907 ”. Ambitious and dense, it offers fifty paintings, forty drawings, prints and posters, twenty-five sculptures and works of art, more than 230 photographs, but also books, magazines, postcards, bizarre machines and above all films: about fifty, all produced before 1907, which bear witness to the deep interaction that this emerging art had with those who preceded it. After that date, it’s another story: cinema, as we know it today, will be invented.

Myth of Pygmalion

The exhibition does not aim to be an archeology of the gaze in the modern era, the anthropology of an invention less related to artistic modernity itself than to popular culture and the collective imagination of the world. ‘era. We will approach it with in mind the words of its general curator Dominique Païni in the exhibition catalog: “It is not here to tell the story of the invention of cinema but rather to evoke what it invented: the modern spectator whom, to a large extent, we still are. The cinema is a balcony from which we can understand the laws of optical, psychological and societal accommodation that have seen the viewer be born in today’s moving images. “ It is therefore a question of showing here, by a sort of montage of attractions, how, on the one hand, the images which precede or accompany him converge towards him, on the other hand how he himself, by his uncertain birth, refers to genres or artistic canons that legitimize its existence.

In truth, it is all the visual arts which, in search of imitation of the real, seem to feel cramped in the frame

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