“Stanley Kubrick,” opening Nov. 1 at LACMA, features more than 1,000 objects pulled from the legendary filmmaker’s personal archives. The exhibition represents a formidable and somewhat daunting plunge into the mind of one of cinema’s greatest directorial talents.
LACMA’s exhibition emphasizes the connections between some of Kubrick’s films and specific works of art. Kubrick was a well-rounded filmmaker who drew inspiration from the broad cultural spectrum. Sometimes the visual references in his movies were deliberate, while at other times it is less clear who was influencing who. The exhibition provides a fascinating survey of the dialogue between Kubrick’s filmography and the world of visual art. (Museum Associates / LACMA)
A scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film “The Shining.”
Kubrick crossed paths with Diane Arbus during his stint as a photographer for Look magazine. There’s an undeniably strong resemblance between the spectral Grady siblings in “The Shining” and those in Arbus’ famous photograph, “Identical Twins.” Many people say Kubrick was inspired by Arbus’ image, but his wife, Christiane, has denied this. (Warner Bros. / LACMA)
A scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 movie “Barry Lyndon,” with Leon Vitali, standing left, and Ryan O’Neal.
During the filming of “Barry Lyndon,” Kubrick would compose shots based directly on 18th century paintings. He even carried around pages torn from art books. “I created a picture file of thousands of drawings and paintings for every type of reference that we could have wanted,” he once told French critic Michel Ciment. “I think I destroyed every art book you could buy in a bookshop.” (Warner Bros.)
Jack Nicholson in a scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 movie “The Shining.”
“The Shining” contains another art-world reference, but this one is more obscure than the Arbus connection. After a month of living with his family at the Overlook hotel, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) succumbs to a strange psychosis that initially manifests itself as a spaced-out, catatonic daze. (Warner Bros.)
An etching by Francisco Goya, “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters,” circa 1799.
Kubrick is believed to have modeled the shot of Jack asleep at his writing desk on an 18th century etching by Francisco Goya -- “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.” The original Stephen King novel begins with a series of epigraphs, one of which is the very title of the Goya etching. (Wikimedia Commons)
A scene from the 1968 Stanley Kubrick movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
What do the monoliths in “2001: A Space Odyssey” represent? Everyone has his or her own answers. One interpretation maintains that the mysterious rectangular figures represent markers on mankind’s evolutionary journey, demarcating leaps in Homo sapien’s intelligence. (Warner Bros.)
Installation of artwork by John McCracken at Hoffman Borman Gallery in Santa Monica in 1988.
Many people assume that Kubrick’s monoliths were created by or at least based on the famous geometric planks by artist John McCracken. The movie was released two years after McCracken debuted his planks, and the artist has stated that he did not work on the movie. Still, the resemblance is strong enough for LACMA to place one of the McCracken pieces in its collection among the objects from “2001.” (Squidds & Nunns)
A scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”
“Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” remains one of Kubrick’s most popular films. The nuclear-war satire, which was made at the height of U.S.-Soviet tensions, is a darkly comic look at power and corruption, and it features what is perhaps Peter Sellers’ greatest performance in multiple roles.
(Columbia Pictures / LACMA)
“Sky Garden” (1969), by Robert Rauschenberg.
LACMA has juxtaposed objects from “Dr. Strangelove” with a print from Robert Rauschenberg’s “Stoned Moon” series -- “Sky Garden,” which was created five years after the release of Kubrick’s bleak comedy. Rauschenberg often incorporated Cold War themes into his art. While it’s unclear if the two artists ever met, it’s easy to see some of Kubrick in Rauschenberg, and vice versa. (Museum Associates / LACMA)