Manhatta - #1 - 2K digital restoration, music 2008 - Charles Sheeler, Paul Strand

Rental Format(s): Digital File

Alternate title: "New York the Magnificent", "Fumée de New York"
Co-makers: Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand
Original format: 35mm silent film 1.33:1
Restoration 2K DPX 10bit LOG from 35mm preserved 2008 by Bruce Posner at DTS/Lowry Digital and Chace Audio.
New music: 2008 orchestra score by Donald Sosin. Performed by Slovak Sinfonietta
Courtesy Anthology Film Archives, British Film Institute, Lane Collection Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Library of Congress, Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Art, EYE Film Institute Netherlands.
Techncial note: This edition features the most comprehensive and expensive digital restoration performed to date on a short art film. It was sourced from the earliest surviving 35mm preservation film element held at the British Film Institute. Much of the work was accomplished in reference and deference to several paper still photographs made by Charles Sheeler in 1920 from 35mm film frames clipped from the nitrate camera negative.

In 1920, photographer Paul Strand and painter-photographer Charles Sheeler, who had acquired a French 35mm Debrie movie camera, collaborated on a short non-commercial art film, now titled "Manhatta". They began to shoot in lower Manhattan working without scenario or script. Many of the scenes were made from the upper floors of skyscrapers in order to emphasize the geometric character of the city's architecture and to suggest the ant-like character of its population. In their press release, Strand wrote that they had tried to "register directly the living forms in front of them and reduce [them] through rigid their most intensest [sic] terms of expressiveness..." to capture the "elusive spirit" of New York, without resorting to "artifice or photographic trickery." -Naomi Rosenblum

"Manhatta" is a singular, landmark accomplishment in the history of early twentieth-century modernism. A collaboration between two very different artistic temperaments, Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand, "Manhatta" stands at a crossroad of various ideas about what modernism was and could be in 1920. It is homage to the radically democratic vision of American poet Walt Whitman and the avant-garde urban photography of Alfred Stieglitz as well as a harbinger of the coldly detached, abstract, analytical machine aesthetic that would define the precisionist style of the 1920s. Over the course of the twentieth century much of the visual clarity and intellectual brilliance that Sheeler and Strand invested in the project was lost due to the poor handling and deteriorating condition of the film. This remarkable digital restoration has made "Manhatta" visible and intelligible once again. -Charles Brock, National Gallery of Art

Born into wealth, Charles Sheeler (1883-1965) became an artist in the 1910s, creating "Precisionist" paintings that looked like photographs and sharply realist photographs that won numerous prizes. Apart from several attempts at filmmaking, Manhatta was his only film work, but Church Street El (1920) among other paintings and photographs are renditions from the film. -Jan-Christopher Horak

One of America's most famous art photographers, Paul Strand's (1890-1976) career spanned 60 years; his Wall Street (1915) and "Mexican Portfolio" (1930s) are considered masterpieces. Strand also worked as a documentary filmmaker, especially in the 1930s for various left-wing organizations, producing Redes (1934) and Native Land (1937-41), among others. -Jan-Christopher Horak

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Digital File $175.00  

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