Artwork of the week July 20, 2009

Georges Méliès
Le Voyage dans la Lune

This week’s selections are in honor of the 40th anniversary of first moon landing.

Long before Neil Armstrong stepped out of his landing module, writers and filmmakers had been toying with the idea of men on the moon. In 1902, Frenchman Georges Melies debuted the first sci-fi film in history, Voyage dans la Lune. Today, particular images from the film have become pop-culture standards. But did you know the Smashing Pumpkins’ video for Tonight, Tonight is a Melies knockoff?

It was 1902, and the moving picture was just taking off. We’d advanced from the kinetoscope, a non-projecting motion picture exhibition device which allowed for a single viewer, and had entered the age of projection and movie theaters. Of the many brains leading the march towards modern movies was the Méliès, who began experimenting with moving pictures at the close of the 1890s. He was one of the first filmmakers to use multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves, and hand-painted color in his films.

Over a hundred years later, South African artist, William Kentridge, known for his animated drawings, would pay homage to Melies with his own Voyage to the moon.

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