Stanley Kubrick -  Still Moving Pictures 1945-1950

21 January - 1 April 2001 

Stanley Kubrick was contacted by Rainer Crone and Petrus von Schaesberg of the International Centre for Curatorial Studies in Munich a few years previous to this exhibition being planned, and they were interested in his photographs taken whilst working for Look Magazine in New York, from 1945 to 1950 - before and as he began to make films. Kubrick agreed to their proposal for an exhibition, and the result was shown here for the first time in the UK. It consisted of a series of photographic essays describing many different aspects of life in New York. Having sold his first photograph to the magazine at the age of 16 (of a dejected newspaper vendor on the day following the death of President Roosevelt), Kubrick was later hired as full-time staff photographer; before leaving at the age of 22 to make his first documentary film.

Brought together, these images displayed Kubrick's fascination with his subject, and the compositional and technical skills which made him one of the greatest film makers of all time. Titles for the photo stories as originally published in Look magazine are as follows:

Chicago: City of Contrasts 2 April 1949
Scenes in the Subway: New York City 4 March 1947
Hot Nights in Manhatten 26 November 1946
Bronx Street Scene 26 November 1946

Columbia: Private University of New York City's Elite 11 May 1948
Studies in the Mid-west: Life on Michegan University Campus 10 May 1949

A Day in the Life of Walter Cartier, Boxing Champion 18 January 1949

Murder in Three Stages: Who Done It? 18 March 1947
The Circus: A Glimpse Behind the Curtain 25 May 1948

George Grosz in New York 8 June 1948
Montgomery Clift: The Most Sought After Bachelor 19 July 1949
Faye Emerson: TV Star in Control 15 August 1950

More Subversive than Ever: "Dixieland Jazz" 6 June 1950
The Working Debutante: Betsy von Furstenberg 18 July 1950
First Look In The Mirror 13 May 1947

Back to School 17 August 1948
Mum Goes Shopping 18 March 1948

What Every Teenager Should Know About Love 10 October 1950
Jealousy: A Threat to Marriage 24 October 1950
What Every Teenager Should Know About Dating 1 August 1950

"A veteran photographer at 19, Stanley Kubrick makes up for youth with zeal."
- Look Magazine, 11 May 1948

"To Make a film entirely by yourself, which I initially did, you may not have to know very much about anything else, but you must know about photography."
- Stanley Kubrick to Michael Ciment.

1928 - 1950 Stanley Kubrick was born on July 26, 1928 in the Bronx, New York. By the age of 13 he had developed passions for chess and
photography. In April, 1945 Kubrick sold a photograph to Look Magazine while still a pupil at William Taft High School. Included in the exhibition, the image of a newspaper salesman selling papers announcing the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, gave Kubrick his breakthrough. Kubrick graduated from high school in 1946. Couldn't get into college because of low grades and an influx of returning WWII veterans. At 16 years of age (while still at school) he landed a job at Look Magazine as an apprentice photographer. He worked there for several years, travelling all over the United States. Travelling opened his eyes to the world and Kubrick developed a thirst for knowledge. He also enrolled as a non-matriculating student at the University of Columbia, attending classes taught by Lionel Trilling, Mark Van Doren, and Moses Hadas. Kubrick attended the Museum of Modern Art film showings as often as they changed the programme. He played chess for money at the Marshal and Manhattan clubs and in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.

In 1951 at 23 years of age, Kubrick used his savings to finance his first film, a 16 minute documentary about boxer Walter Cartier, who had been the subject of A day in the life of Walter Cartier, Boxing Champion - a Look photo-assignment from 1949. Kubrick acted as director, cinematographer, editor, and soundman. Day of the Fight was bought by RKO for its This is America series and played at the Paramount Theatre in New York, netting Kubrick a small profit. He quit his job at Look to pursue filmmaking. RKO advanced him money to make a documentary short film for their Pathe Screenliner series. Flying Padre, the 9 minute film was about Father Fred Stadtmueller, a priest who flew around his 400 mile New Mexico parish in a Piper Cub. Kubrick once again acted as director, cinematographer, editor, and soundman. In 1953, he was commissioned to direct and photograph a 30 minute industrial documentary called The Seafarers. It was Kubrick's first film in colour. In 1953 he raised $13,000 from relatives to finance his first feature length film Fear and Desire. In 1955 he then raised $40,000 from friends and relatives and shot his second feature, Killer's Kiss. 1956 saw Kubrick and producer James B. Harris going to Hollywood to make his first studio picture, The Killing with a budget of $320,000, and a cast of notable Hollywood character actors. Next, Kubrick directed an adaptation of Humphrey Cobb's novel Paths of Glory, starring Kirk Douglas: the resulting motion picture is often regarded as one of the best war films ever made. In 1959, Kirk Douglas was producing Spartacus. As the original director Anthony Mann was removed after two weeks, Douglas gave Kubrick the job.

Kubrick directed Lolita, based on Vladimir Nabokov's controversial novel. He had bought the rights to the book in 1958, for a reported $150,000. For a number of financial and legal reasons the film was shot in England. In the late '60s Kubrick moved to England permanently where he made all his subsequent films. Kubrick adapted the novel Red Alert into a nightmare comedy, Dr. Strangelove. The film received critical acclaim including Oscar nominations for Kubrick as co-author, director, and producer. Following the success of Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick hired noted science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke to develop an original scenario about man's encounter with extraterrestrial intelligence. 2001: A Space Odyssey is generally considered not only one of the great films and a landmark in cinema history, but it earned Kubrick more Oscar nominations for writing and directing it, and his only Oscar - for designing and directing the film's special effects.

Kubrick then adapted the novel A Clockwork Orange to the screen. Despite its initial X-rating in the United States, the controversial film did well and received numerous accolades, including 3 more Oscar nominations for Kubrick as writer, director, and producer. Around this time, with such a string of extraordinary
films to his credit, many magazine and newspaper articles and books were written about Kubrick - some portraying him as an eccentric recluse about whose personal life little was known: far from Hollywood, Kubrick lived in a large home in a semi-rural setting well outside of London with his third wife, Christiane Harlan, and their three daughters. Christiane, a German painter and former actress, had played the only woman in Paths of Glory. Their large home also contained his offices and post-production facilities.

After these two futuristic science-fiction films, Kubrick changed direction and created Barry Lyndon - an 18th century story based on the 19th century novel by William Makepeace Thackeray. While the 11 million dollar costume drama was not a box office success, the accolades continued - 7 Oscar nominations; more than any other Kubrick film before or since, including Kubrick's usual 3 for writing, directing and producing. In 1980, 5 years after Barry Lyndon, Kubrick released his contribution to the horror genre, The Shining, based on the novel by Stephen King. This time the film was a financial success, but critics were generally not as receptive and
there were no Oscar nominations at all.

It was to be another 7 years before Kubrick released his next film, Full Metal Jacket. Kubrick became involved in supervising the transfers of some of his films for the home video market and also creating a new negative of Dr. Strangelove from the highest quality prints available after it was discovered that the original negative had been lost. In May of 1990 Kubrick joined forces with directors Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Robert Redford, Sydney Pollack, and George Lucas in forming the Film Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting the restoration and preservation of films.

Kubrick developed another science-fiction project called AI (Artificial Intelligence), but he determined that the special effects technology of the time could not handle the requirements of the story, so the project was put on hold. Around the same time The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that the film was a big budget, effect-heavy spectacular. The project was shrouded in secrecy and Warner Brothers said only that the film was set in a post greenhouse-effect world in which many daily tasks were performed by robots. To do AI, Kubrick set aside plans to direct Aryan Papers, a nazi-era story based on the novel Wartime Lies by Louis Begley. In mid December of 1995, Warner Brothers released the news that Kubrick was still in pre-production for the very complicated AI, but would first make a film called Eyes Wide Shut starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Kubrick began shooting this in late 1996 and finished in early 1998.

On Saturday 8 March 1997, the Director's Guild of America awarded Stanley Kubrick its highest honour, the D.W. Griffith Award. The 68 year-old Kubrick did not attend the ceremony, but sent an acceptance speech on videotape. Jack Nicholson accepted the award on behalf of Kubrick, saying; "My first impulse was to quote Bum Phillips when he said of Earl Campbell (the running back), that he was in a class all of his own, and if he wasn't, - it don't take long to call the roll." In September 1997, Kubrick was also awarded the Golden Lion Award at the 54th Venice International Film Festival.

In the first week of March 1999, Kubrick arranged a special screening of Eyes Wide Shut for two Warner Brothers studio heads and the film's co-stars, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. By all accounts reaction was very favourable and Kubrick was excited about it. One report claims he said he thought it to be his best film. On 7 March 1999, Stanley Kubrick died at home in his sleep of a heart attack. He was 70 years old.

Exhibition curated by Professor Rainer Crone and Petrus Graf Schaesberg, Directors of ICCARUS (International Centre for Curatorial Studies, Munich), assisted by Alexandra von Stoch. Exhibition organised by Paul Nesbitt and Graham Domke at Inverleith House, assisted by Lucy Aldridge and Amani Becker. In April 2001, the exhibition travelled to Berlin.

All images © The American Library of Congress/ICCARUS (International Centre for Curatorial Studies, Munich).

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