Foundations of Science

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 207–215 | Cite as

The Documentary Surreal: Film and Painting in Luciano Emmer’s La Leggenda di Sant’Orsola (1948) and Henri Storck’s Le Monde de Paul Delvaux (1946)

  • Steven Jacobs


This article deals with the aesthetics of the art documentary of the 1940s and 1950s, which can be considered as the Golden Age of the genre. Prior to the breakthrough of television in Europe, which would usurp and standardize the art documentary, cinematic reproductions of artworks resulted in experimental shorts that were highly self-reflexive. These films became visual laboratories to investigate the tensions between movement and stasis, the two- and three-dimensional, and the real and the artificial—a film on art was self-consciously presented as an art film. Focusing on La Leggenda di Sant’Orsola (1948) by Luciano Emmer and Le Monde de Paul Delvaux (1946) by Henri Storck, this article also investigates how the animation of the static image by the film medium relates to Surrealist practices.


Art documentary Art film Surrealism Surrealist film Henri Storck Luciano Emmer 


  1. Agel, H. (1961). Répertoire analytique de 80 courts-métrages (en 16mm). Paris: Les Editions de l’école.Google Scholar
  2. Baker, S. (2008). Surrealism, history and revolution. Bern: Peter Lang.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bate, D. (2011). Photography & surrealism: Sexuality, colonialism and social dissent. London: I.B. Tauris.Google Scholar
  4. Bazin, A. (2007). Peinture et cinéma. In Qu’est-ce que le cinéma? (pp. 187–192). Paris: Editions du Cerf.Google Scholar
  5. Bolen, F. (1953). Le Film à la rencontre des arts plastiques. In Le Film sur l’art: Panorama 1953 (pp. 5–10) Paris: Unesco.Google Scholar
  6. Breton, A. (1928). Nadja. Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
  7. Davay, P. (1949). Compelled to see. In Films on art (pp. 9–18) Paris: Unesco/Brussels: Editions de la connaissance.Google Scholar
  8. Desnos, R. (1930). Pygmalion et le Sphinx. Documents 1 (January), 32–39.Google Scholar
  9. Emmer, L. (1950). Dieci anni ai lavoro e di vita. Bianco e nero XI, 8–9, 108–110.Google Scholar
  10. Emmer, L., & Gras, E. (1947). The film renaissance in Italy. Hollywood Quarterly, 2(4), 353–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Farwell, B. (1963). Films on art in education. Art Journal, 23(1), 39–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Faure, E. (1927). L’Esprit des formes. Paris: G. Crés and Cie.Google Scholar
  13. Faure, E. (1964). Fonction du cinéma, de la cinéplastique à son destin social. Geneva: Éditions Gontheir.Google Scholar
  14. Felleman, S. (2006). Art in the Cinematic Imagination. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  15. Hodson, B. (2005). Surrealist documentary: Reviewing the real.
  16. Knight, A. (1953). A short history of art films. In W. M. Chapman (Ed.), Films on art 1952 (pp. 6–20). New York: The American Federation of Arts.Google Scholar
  17. Kracauer, S. (1960). Theory of film: The redemption of physical reality. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Krauss, R., & Livingston, J. (1985). L’Amour fou. New York: Abbeville Press.Google Scholar
  19. Kyrou, A. (1963). Le Surréalisme au cinéma. Paris: Le Terrain vague.Google Scholar
  20. Malraux, A. (1947). Psychologie de l’art. Genève: Skira.Google Scholar
  21. Malraux, A. (1951). Les Voix du silence. Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
  22. Malraux, A. (1965). Le Musée imaginaire. Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
  23. Margolis, H. (1947). Luciano Emmer and the art film. Sight and Sound, 16(61), 1–3.Google Scholar
  24. Richardson, M. (2006). Surrealism and cinema. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
  25. Ruoff, J. (1998). An ethnographic surrealist film: Luis Buñuel’s land without bread. Visual Anthropology Review, 14(1), 45–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Scott, D. (1992). Paul Delvaux: Surrealizing the nude. London: Reaktion Books.Google Scholar
  27. Scremin, P. (2004). Luciano Emmer: Récits sur l’art. Zeuxis 16 (Autumn), 55–62.Google Scholar
  28. Smith, D. (2004). Moving pictures: The art documentaries of Alain Resnais and Henri-Georges Clouzot in theoretical context (Benjamin, Malraux and Bazin). Studies in European Cinema, 1(3), 163–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Souris, A. (1949). Music and filmed paintings. In Films on art (pp. 27–31) Paris: Unesco/Brussels: Editions de la connaissance.Google Scholar
  30. Venturi, L. (1949). Italian films on art. In Films on art (pp. 32–41) Paris/Brussels: Unesco/Editions de la connaissance.Google Scholar
  31. Venturi, L. (1953). Films on art: An attempt at classification. The Quarterly of Film Radio and Television, 7(4), 385–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Walker, I. (2002). City gorged with dreams: Surrealism and photography in interwar Paris. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Art, Music and Theatre StudiesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

Personalised recommendations