Hollywood Collides with the Art World


Hollywood Collides with the Art World

1957 – Funny Face / Clyfford Still, PH-971
1957 – Funny Face / Clyfford Still, PH-971

Bonnie Lautenberg: Art Meets Hollywood

On view now at the Boca Raton Museum of Art until August 21st

The new exhibition “Art Meets Hollywood” is the museum premiere of Bonnie Lautenberg’s new series of digital collages, 28 diptychs pairing scenes from famous films alongside iconic works of art. Lautenberg’s only rule for her experimental process is that both the film and the artwork originated within the same year.

On view now at Boca Raton Museum of Art, Lautenberg channels the creative zeitgeist between filmmakers and artists during each year that she intuitively chronicles, starting in 1928 up until 2020.

Lautenberg plays matchmaker to the 1957 movie Funny Face by combining Audrey Hepburn’s bold pose with Clifford Still’s painting PH971–both majestic, and both glamorous. When viewed together this way in the museum gallery, the combination seems to make perfect sense, as if they were made for each other.

Hollywood Collides with the Art World

In another work from this series, the terrifying scene she selects from the 1975 movie Jaws literally screams above a Willem De Kooning painting that conjures what could appear to be blood spilling into the water below.

1975 - Jaws / Willem De Kooning, Untitled V
1975 – Jaws / Willem De Kooning, Untitled V

Her pairings can also be surprising and intriguing: who would have imagined the 1963 scene of Paul Newman from the classic movie Hud would look so ideal next to Warhol’s seminal painting of Elvis from the same year? (pictured below)

Warhol’s seminal painting

“Lautenberg pulls together visuals she feels speak to each other, taking us along on her colorful trip to explore how these two art forms have amazing parallels and are beautifully paired,” says Irvin Lippman, the Boca Raton Museum of Art’s executive director.

“Through her careful considerations, she brings to life each moment in time, the spark of creativity these pairings might have shared. She possesses a keen eye on the visual elements of humanity and culture that arise.”

1965 – Red Desert / Lucio Fontana
1965 – Red Desert / Lucio Fontana

During the past five years she has worked on this series, Lautenberg made a crucial discovery: the artist Lucio Fontana was so moved by the Antonioni film Red Desert that he created one of his largest red paintings, influenced by what he saw up on the big screen (pictured above is the pairing of the two, by Lautenberg).

“This solidified my belief,” says Bonnie Lautenberg. “Throughout art history, artists have always been influenced by some force going on in the world around them.”

“I started thinking about how artists who work in different art forms might have influenced each other. I decided to explore how one art form can influence another,” adds Lautenberg.

“The brilliance of these juxtapositions is how she illuminates the psychological connections between each film scene and artwork,” adds Lippman.

In her 2016 digital collage, Lautenberg combines a scene from the film Hidden Figures with the painting by Mark Bradford Tomorrow is Another Day.
In her 2016 digital collage, Lautenberg combines a scene from the film Hidden Figures with the painting by Mark Bradford Tomorrow is Another Day.

Lautenberg is an artist, photographer and writer based in New York and Palm Beach. During the past 30 years, her works have been featured in gallery shows, museums and art fairs throughout the United States. Lautenberg’s work is currently on view at the New York Historical Society’s Center for the Study of American Culture.

Lautenberg pairs the painting by Georgia O’Keeffe titled Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 with a scene from the film Grand Hotel featuring Greta Garbo (both from 1932).
Lautenberg pairs the painting by Georgia O’Keeffe titled Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 with a scene from the film Grand Hotel featuring Greta Garbo (both from 1932).

Some of Lautenberg’s pairings in this series featured at the Boca Raton Museum also stem from her own personal history.

In the 1960s her father purchased the Stuart Davis painting Hot Still-Scape for Six Colors ‒ 7th Avenue Style. In this pairing, she juxtaposes the Davis painting that she admired as a child growing up in her family home, with a scene from the 1940 film The Philadelphia Story (pictured below, both from 1940).

1940 – The Philadelphia Story / Stuart Davis, Hot Still-Scape for Six Colors - 7th Avenue Style
1940 – The Philadelphia Story / Stuart Davis, Hot Still-Scape for Six Colors – 7th Avenue Style

The family eventually sold the painting some 25 years later. Ultimately, the painting was donated to the Boston Museum of Fine Art. Years later, Lautenberg was reunited with the painting when she visited the museum and was heartened to see it was still in the same frame it had during the many years when it hung over their family fireplace.

This new exhibition in South Florida, Art Meets Hollywood, opened at the Boca Raton Museum of Art concurrently with another celebration of films and artmaking, Art of the Hollywood Backdrop: Cinema’s Creative Legacy. Both shows together at the Museum are a dream come true for cinephiles.

1952 - Singin’ in the Rain / Yayoi Kusama, The Sea
1952 – Singin’ in the Rain / Yayoi Kusama, The Sea

Pictured above from the Museum exhibition is Lautenberg’s “1952,” her combination of a scene from Singin’ in the Rain with Yayoi Kusama’s painting titled The Sea (both from 1952).

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Singin’ in the Rain, one of Hollywood’s most beloved films of all time. It was directed by Gene Kelly who also starred in this Hollywood classic. In honor of the film’s milestone anniversary, Warner Bros. Studio is releasing a new 4K Ultra HD version of the classic movie.

At the opening reception for Lautenberg’s exhibition at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, one of the special guests of honor that evening was Patricia Ward Kelly (the widow of Gene Kelly). She is the Creative Director of the Gene Kelly Legacy Project in Los Angeles (pictured above).

To watch the other, full-length video from the opening reception, click here.

In keeping with Bonnie Lautenberg’s keen ability to tune into the zeitgeist, this newly released high-resolution anniversary edition of the film is currently making headlines around the world with screenings across multiple cities and at major festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival.

A scene from the film Pulp Fiction is coupled by Lautenberg with Kenny Scharf’s painting Globe Glob (both from 1994).
A scene from the film Pulp Fiction is coupled by Lautenberg with Kenny Scharf’s painting Globe Glob (both from 1994).

Rave Reviews for “Bonnie Lautenberg: Art Meets Hollywood”

“The connections are often witty but are invariably imaginative” . . . “Lautenberg’s series is beyond clever; it also captures a synergistic zeitgeist — conscious or unconscious — between artists and filmmakers. If we’re lucky, we’ll be gifted with a Lautenberg mash-up for every year motion pictures have existed.”

― John Thomason, Boca Raton Magazine

“Lautenberg gets top marks for detecting connections we can only see in hindsight” . . . “Ms. Lautenberg has an intuitive process involving images that talk to each other. She plays matchmaker to the symbiotic relationships” . . . “The power of each frame remains in the connection shared by both.”

― Gretel Sarmiento, Palm Beach Florida Weekly

Visual codes of emotion that transcend and unite these two disparate visual worlds of film and art, capturing their shared feeling” … “wonderful wit and sense of humor, surprising connections that disrupt the way you think about the paintings and films that speak to each other within the work” … “Through Lautenberg’s juxtapositions, abstraction’s high-keyed color becomes Technicolor; painting’s genres become comedy, drama, musical and thriller.”

– Levi Prombaum, Curatorial Assistant, Collections

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The 1999 film American Beauty with the artwork by James Turrell titled The Light Inside (both from the same year).
The 1999 film American Beauty with the artwork by James Turrell titled The Light Inside (both from the same year).

“This series by Lautenberg is extremely original, and I love the idea of what she is doing with the two art forms,” said Jean Albano, whose gallery in Chicago has showcased Lautenberg’s different series of works, mostly photography, for the past eight years.

“They’re visually striking, but you can also engage with them intellectually. Beautifully put together artistically, very clever and appealing to look at,” added Albano.

The painting by Rene Magritte titled The Lovers and a scene from the film The Mysterious Lady (both from 1928).
The painting by Rene Magritte titled The Lovers and a scene from the film The Mysterious Lady (both from 1928).

About the Artist

Bonnie Lautenberg is an artist, photographer and writer. Her work was recently shown at the Jean Albano Gallery in Chicago, and at David Benrimon Fine Art in New York, in the show Rethinking America alongside works by Warhol, Lichtenstein, Longo, Kass, and Ed Ruscha.

Bonnie Lautenberg
Bonnie Lautenberg

To view her artworks and photography, visit BonnieLautenberg.com featuring images she has taken in Israel, Antarctica, Cuba, and around the world for the past 25 years.

She is the widow of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, one of Washington’s longest-serving Senators. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1982 to 2001, and then again from 2003 until his death in 2013.

She has been described as “having enough Washington insider stories to fill a book.” (Lautenberg is working on her new book to be released by Rutgers University Press next year, with her co-writer Dick Olin, about her 25 years of political photography).

Lautenberg is co-producing a new Broadway musical about the life of Andy Warhol with her current partner Steve Leber. The show is in development and is slated to be directed by Sir Trevor Nunn with a book by Rupert Holmes. The new Broadway show has been approved by the Warhol Foundation. Her partner Steve Leber is a well-known entertainment agent who has worked with some of the biggest acts of the last half-century, including the Rolling Stones, Diana Ross, Aerosmith, Simon and Garfunkel, the Jackson Five, AC/DC, and Joan Jett, among others.

A film-still of Bette Davis from the movie Jezebel, next to the painting by Matisse titled Lady in Blue (both from 1938).
A film-still of Bette Davis from the movie Jezebel, next to the painting by Matisse titled Lady in Blue (both from 1938).

Lautenberg’s work is in several private collections and in the permanent collections of museums and institutions, including The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture; The Boca Raton Museum of Art; The New York Historical Society; The Broad Museum in Los Angeles; The Newark Museum of Art; Portland Museum of Art; and Stillman College Art Gallery in Alabama, among others.

Her series of portraits, How They Changed Our Lives: Senators As Working People, was exhibited at Mana Contemporary in New Jersey, and is now in the Library of Congress permanent collection, viewable online at www.loc.gov/rr/print/coll/Lautenberg.html. 

Shows at galleries, art fairs and institutions include the 92nd Street Y in New York; Jean Albano Gallery in Chicago; Monika Olko Gallery in Sag Harbor; Sponder Gallery; the Art Miami fair; the Palm Beach Modern and Contemporary fair; C. Parker Gallery in Greenwich; Vertu Fine Art; the Turkish Embassy at the United Nations; the U.S. Embassies in Madrid and Berlin; Art Market Hamptons; The White Room Gallery in Bridgehampton, NY; Art Southampton fair, and RH Gallery in New York.

In 1993, Lautenberg photographed the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Accord. That day, Lautenberg realized she was capturing history through the lens of her camera, and she was forever hooked on photography.

Among her most recognized portraits of famous people in her 2008 photograph of Barack Obama, featured in a group show at the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York and in many private collections around the country.

It hung in the Chief Counsel’s office in the West Wing of the White House and is in the collection of the Newark Museum, and in the collection of the Smithsonian’s new Museum of African American History and Culture.

In 2022, Lautenberg was appointed by the White House to the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts (PACA). Established in 1958 by President Eisenhower, PACA also sustains and guides the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Cultural Center of the United States, see more at www.kennedy-center.org/Support/donor-listings/PACA/

1957 – Funny Face / Clyfford Still, PH-971
1957 – Funny Face / Clyfford Still, PH-971
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