Bruce Museum to Host Film Series Celebrating Women Artists & Architects
March is celebrated around the world as Women’s History Month. To honor the achievements of four extraordinary women in the fields of art and architecture, the Bruce Museum is hosting a month-long film series.
With showings at 10:30 am on Wednesday mornings in the Bantle Lecture Gallery, the Bruce Museum’s Celebrating Women Artists Film Series begins on March 4 with The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo. The March 11 program is Arc of Light: A Portrait of Anna Campbell Bliss, followed by two documentaries on March 18 about architect Zaha Hadid, Zaha: An Architectural History and Phaeno, Building as Landscape. The series concludes on March 25 with Kusama Infinity: The Life and Times of Yayoi Kusama, a film about the world’s top-selling woman artist.
“When selecting the artists to include in this series, I wanted to make sure that a wide variety of cultures and creative mediums were represented while also having the opportunity to highlight women like Anna Campbell Bliss, who work at the intersections of art and science,” says H.S. Miller, the Museum’s Zvi Grunberg Resident Fellow 2019-20 and organizer of the film series.
The film presentations are free to Museum members and visitors with paid admission. A brief discussion will follow each film. Reservations are required; please visit the Calendar section at brucemuseum.org to reserve your seat for a specific day, or call 203-869-0376. Please read on for more information about the films in the series.
The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo (2005) explores the 20th-century icon who became an international sensation in the worlds of modern art and radical politics. Through the prism of Kahlo’s life and art, the film delves into the ancient culture of Mexico; the Mexican Revolution; the wildfire of communism that burned through Latin America in the 1920s and '30s; the innovators in painting, photography, filmmaking, writing, and poetry that congregated in Mexico City; and the revival of interest in popular culture for which Kahlo has become a symbol.
Award-winning filmmaker Amy Stechler of Daylight Films was granted unprecedented access to photographs, paintings, newsreels, and home movies, many of which have never been published or broadcast. Stechler's research includes more than 20 interviews with principals in Kahlo's life, including Mexican authors Carlos Fuentes and Carlos Monsivais and Kahlo's principal biographer, Hayden Herrera. Rita Moreno – the Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award-winning actress – narrates the film. (Run time 90 min.)
This 2012 documentary traces Anna Campbell Bliss's evolution from ground-breaking architect to cutting-edge artist: her work fuses architecture, mathematics, computer technology, painting, printmaking, and calligraphy.
The film also examines the roots of Bliss's art in the Bauhaus school, which flourished in Germany in the 1920s. Viewers will learn how Bliss’s studies with Bauhaus exponents Walter Gropius and Gyorgy Kepes, as well as her links to Josef Albers, R. Buckminster Fuller, and other figures shaped her creative development. The film features interviews with the artist and her husband, Robert Bliss, former Dean of the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Utah, as well as other art world professionals. (Run time 51 min.)
Completed one year after Hadid’s death in 2016, Zaha: An Architectural Legacy explores the famed Iraqi-British architect’s career and legacy through five stages that signal significant progressions in her work. The film begins with her drawings and paintings while at the Architectural Association, then captures her first built project at Vitra in Weil am Rhein, Germany. The documentary moves on to the Stirling Prize-winning MAXXI in Rome, which secured her place in the architectural canon, and the London Aquatics Centre – a building which made her known to the public. It finishes with Mathematics: The Winton Gallery at the Science Museum in London, completed just months after her death.
Featuring interviews with those who knew her, including longtime collaborator Patrik Schumacher, architects Eva Jiricna and Nigel Coates, urbanist Ricky Burdett, Architects Journal editor-in-chief Christine Murray, and engineer Hanif Kara, the film gives thoughtful insight into the impact Zaha had on the architectural profession. This 2017 documentary was produced by Laura Mark and filmed by Jim Stephenson for the Architects Journal. (Run time 27 min.)
This 2007 Richard Copans documentary is part of the series “Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture.” Completed in 2005, Zaha Hadid's Phaeno Science Center is spaceship-like structure near Wolfsburg, Germany. A great concrete and glass triangle, the project satisfies two ambitions: for Hadid, it is one of her first major works; and for the city, it is a statement of identity. Built on large cone bases housing museum reception, café, and gift shop areas, the main exhibition hall contains 250 scientific experiments providing learning and amusement opportunities for children and adults. The building frees public space below and suggests a way of being part of the world and yet feeling space; as Hadid says: “the landscape is the plan.” Directed by Richard Copans; France, 2007. (Run Time 26 min.)
The incredible life journey of the top-selling female artist in the world, Yayoi Kusama, who overcame impossible odds to bring her radical artistic vision to the world. For decades, her work pushed boundaries that often alienated her from both her peers and those in power in the art world. Now, her Infinity Mirrored Room installations sell out globally, and she generates new work every day.
Kusama Infinity (2018) is directed, written, and produced by Heather Lenz, who spent more than a decade to bring her story to the screen. Lenz felt strongly that Kusama’s contributions to the American art world had been largely overlooked, notably during the period from the late 1950s to the early ‘70s when Kusama created some of her most innovative work while living in New York City. It is important to Lenz that this film also contain information about the darker side of Kusama's history as a child in Japan during WWII, to help introduce that period to a younger generation and help prevent it from being forgotten. (Run time 76 min.)
Kusama’s first-of-its-kind New York Botanical Garden show in the Bronx opens to the public on May 9. Kusama’s works from past and present will be distributed through the 250-acre grounds. There will also be floral installations, as well as a new Infinity Room adapted for the outdoors.
For complete listings of these and other programs and events taking place at the Bruce Museum, as well as descriptions of current and upcoming exhibitions, visit brucemuseum.org or call 203-869-0376.