Goncharov (1973): The Making Of

I started this blog in 2001 as a side project for my filmmaking. It was the place to share my inspiration, development, behind-the-scenes, making-of, marketing, reception, and commentary.

screenshot of @zootycoon’s tumblr post with the bootleg platform sneakers with a label based on a movie poster that unlocked the Goncharovissance

Now Tumblr has, in one day, generated an entire metacontent universe around a film that doesn’t exist: Goncharov (1973), produced and/or, disputedly, directed by Martin Scorsese. It is spectacular, and exactly the kind of thing I got into blogging about movies for.

[update: I am told that Goncharov (1973) is, in fact, an absolutely real film. If it wasn’t, would it have an elaborate and exhaustive Google Doc mapping its history, production, plot, music, versions, and analysis? And there’s a poster? And then there’s all the fanfic. My apologies to Messrs JWHJ0715 and Scorsese.]

Previously: Goncharov

Giant Picasso Painting By Prince Alexander Schervachidze

I thought about it again after seeing Nicole Eisenman’s fantastic, crisp, woke paintings at Anton Kern. But the first time I wanted to remake a destroyed Gerald Murphy painting was in 2011, sometime after seeing the photo of Boatdeck, the epic 18×12-foot canvas he pwned the Salon des Indépendants with in 1924
Boatdeck dominated and outraged the Salon with its scale, style, and subject matter, and led to the resignations of several selection committee members. Murphy made a small number of normal-sized and amazing paintings for several years, but stopped in 1929, when his son got tuberculosis and the stock market crash threatened his family business. Boatdeck is one of eight that were lost or destroyed.
Boatdeck, 1924, photo: Gerald & Sara Murphy Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale
In 1921 Gerald Murphy and his wife Sara got their start collecting, then painting scenery for the Ballets Russes. It’s where they met their painting teacher, the exiled Blau Reiter and Futurist Natalia Goncharova. Genial, rich, and happy to work for free, Gerald would touch up backdrops and such by Diaghilev collaborators like Goncharova, Matisse, and Picasso.
The biggest Picasso in the world is a curtain for “Parade,” a 1917 production for which the artist also designed the costumes, and Cocteau and Satie the music. It inspired Apollinaire to coin the term sur-realisme. The 11×14-meter curtain was shown at the Pompidou Metz in 2012.
The biggest Picasso I’ve ever seen, though, wasn’t even painted by him. Le Train Bleu (1924), is a 10×11-meter curtain created by Prince Alexander Schervachidze, another Russian exile, who enlarged a Picasso gouache so skillfully that the artist decided to sign it. Le Train Bleu was a ballet about the flashy, new, beachy Cote d’Azur lifestyle, and had costumes by Coco Chanel. It was not really a hit.
And it was Picasso’s last collaboration with Diaghilev, who nonetheless kept using that curtain all the time. It is pretty beat, especially compared to everyone’s favorite Picasso Ballets Russes curtain, le Tricorne (1919), which used to live in the hallway of the Four Seasons.
Train Bleu and Goncharova’s amazing 1926 backdrop for The Firebird were the climaxes of the National Gallery’s 2013 exhibit of the Diaghilev/Ballets Russes collection of the V&A. They absolutely dominated their galleries in the North Tower, which was then closed for gut renovations. The museum’s hilarious no-photo policy for the show left me with nothing but sneaky, wonky pocket shots of the painting’s feet. But it is awesome, and it made me want to remake things with brushes the size of brooms, too.

What I Looked At Today: Gerald Murphy

Sometimes I really just am slow to put things together. I mean, I’ve written at length, ad nauseam, even, about the history of Mark Cross. Mondo-Blogo had a huge post months ago about what Superfreaks they are. There’s the whole F. Scott Fitzgerald thing. [Which, truth be told, is probably why I’ve willfully ignored them so long.]
But it’s only now, while reading Calvin Tomkins’ 1962 New Yorker profile on Gerald and Sara Murphy [thanks @maudnewton!] that I’ve taken a first, real look at Gerald Murphy’s paintings.
Well, that, and the fact that MoMA actually has their Murphy, Wasp and Pear, on view for the first time in years. It’s certainly the first time I’ve ever remembered seeing it.
The Murphys fled their uptight, US, 1920s socialite life for France, where they proceeded to invent some combination of summer, the Riviera, and modernism. Under the initial tutelage of Diaghilev designer Nina Goncharova, Gerald took up painting alongside his friends Picasso, Braque, Man Ray, Picabia, and Leger. He stuck with it for seven intense years, then abandoned it completely when his son came down with tuberculosis. Tomkins quotes him as saying that discussions with Picasso led him to realize “I was not going to be first rate, and I couldn’t stand second-rate painting.”
Which, wow, just does not make sense. It sounds like ex post facto rationalization, or dealing with grief over his son’s death, or something but it completely ignores the fact that Picasso himself was often second-rate. I think you just never know until you do. And maybe Murphy did, and knew, but still.
The few paintings that survive [8?] of the few he made [14?] are all pretty great. The Dallas Museum has several, including Watch (1925), an amazing precisionist abstraction that measures an awe-inspiring 6×6 feet. No Sunday painting there.
I’m waiting for the catalogue from the DMA’s 2008 ominously subtitled show, Making It New: The Art and Style of Gerald and Sara Murphy. Which better have photos of Villa America, the Murphys’ pioneering modernist-ized outpost in Cap d’Antibes referred to in my favorite extant Murphy painting [top].
And which also better have more info and more photos of what is now my favorite missing Murphy, Boatdeck: Cunarder, an 18×12-ft masterpiece which took over nearly the entire American section of the 1924 Salon des Independants. Seriously, what Modern was painting 18 feet high in 1923? That is just nuts.
[update: MacAgy originally had Cunarder in the title, and the painting was originally reported to be based on the Aquitania, but Rubin says Murphy said it was the Olympic and the Paris]

Yes We Kandinsky!

That would be the President and all his men getting a private view of the Pompidou’s Kandinsky retrospective, as seen in the official White House flickr stream. Also: Calder; Goncharova, Matisse [whoops, Suzanne Valadon! quel horreur, being confused with a man in the elles@centrepompidou show. thnx nicolas for the correction.]
the show travels to the Guggenheim in NYC in Sept. [centrepompidou.fr via walker art center‘s twitter]

OY! Recommend me some movies! [update: the Mob has spoken]

My DVD rental queue is down to dangerously low levels. GreenCine, by the way, not the big red DVD subscription service Gawker sold it’s soul to (I’m sure they used the money to buy an expanding T-Rex sponge. Chum…p).
Most recently in the machine:

  • Punch-Drunk Love (Ouch. I had to stop, finally. Maybe my stereo settings were wrong, but it was so assaultive… the Bonus Disc is on the way, though.)
  • Soderbergh’s Solaris (underappreciated. re James Cameron’s commentary:he’s deeply, annoyingly, and predictably shallow. ).
  • Ghost World (Didn’t need to watch it since I didn’t end up interviewing Scarlett Johannson),
  • Virgin Suicides (Did need to watch it, because I did end up… wait, I’m getting ahead of my self. But I will say, it’s a little weird to have your mom shoot your Making Of video.)
  • Funeral, Juzo Itami’s dark comedy. (About as subtle as Japanese overacting gets, but the camerawork is bizarrely tight, and the DVD transfer absolutely sucks.)
  • Thirteen Conversations about Something or Other (If you’re gonna make a feature that interweaves several independent episodes together, you probably should watch one, right?)
    Update: Yow, thanks. I should be asking for stuff more often. The results–minus the ones that aren’t available on DVD–like Hearts of Darkness (also shot by Sofia Coppola’s mom) and Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho–ones that weren’t available on DVD–like GVS’s first feature, Mala Noche–and a couple of obviously dumb ideas–Everyone’s seen Pearl Harbor, duh–are below.
    Also, I put them all in an Amazon List, “movies greg.org readers told me to watch #1,” if you feel like watching along. Thanks again, and keep’em coming.
  • Before Night Falls
  • Dog Day Afternoon
  • Dogtown & Z Boys (Avary‘s working on the feature remake with David Fincher)
  • Double Indemnity (a staple)
  • e-dreams (ahh, Kozmo.com)
  • Office Space (always good)
  • Kundun (already on the list, actually)
  • Last Temptation of Christ (how timely)
  • Goncharov (1973) (Scorsese’s complicated but most under-appreciated work)
  • Lumiere
  • One-Hour Photo (someone watched the the VMA, or the Johnny Cash video)
  • Raging Bull (ok, enough with the Scorsese)
  • Secretary
  • The Wind Will Carry Us (actually, the rec. was Abbas Kiarostami, so I picked this one about extremely rural Iran, which led me to…)
  • Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life, a remarkable-sounding 1924 silent film about shepherds in rural Iran, which led me to…
  • The Saltmen of Tibet, and all on my own, I had the idea of rewatching Errol Morris’ Fast, Cheap & Out of Control