Wednesday, September 10, 2008

When art goes to the movies: The Rebel

Writing about Giovanni Intra the other day reminded us that a month after Giovanni was born Tony Hancock, the great British comic, died. This is a subtle segue so we can talk about Hancock’s great movie about art, The Rebel. Made three years before his death, it was his first feature film.

The many art references in the movie include a Magritte moment when Hancock goes to work and finds everyone suited and bowler-hatted, but the main art work featured is the hideous sculpture of Aphrodite Hancock labours over.

In 2002 the London Institute of Pataphysics reproduced the Aphrodite sculpture and other art works from the movie. Ironic, given Hancock’s cry of anguish toward the movie’s end, "You're all raving mad. None of you know what you're looking at. You wait till I'm dead. You'll see I was right."

The Rebel is hard-going today but remains a sharps take on how art was perceived at the time. Some might say things haven’t changed that much but it’s not often you see a beret representing artists any more, so there has been progress.

You can see the sculpting scene from The Rebel by visiting YouTube here.

Images: Tony Hancock as The Rebel