Art History for Filmmakers

Art History for Filmmakers: The Art of Visual Storytelling

by Gillian McIver

Gillian McIver is filmmaker and Lecturer in Film at the SAE Institute, London, UK. She has curated art exhibitions, and worked as a filmmaker in Russia and Germany, as well as Canada, and remains based in London. Her artist films have been screened internationally on every continent, and she also works as a producer and director. She has been Visiting Lecturer at many institutions, and has taught at Roehampton University, UK. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Fairchild Books, 2016
  • DOI:
  • ISBN:
    978-1-4725-8065-8 (hardback)

    978-1-4725-8066-5 (epdf)

    978-1-4742-2336-2 (online)
  • Edition:
    First Edition
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Art History for Filmmakers
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Since cinema's earliest days, literary adaptation has provided the movies with stories; and so we use literary terms like metaphor, metonymy and synedoche to describe visual things. But there is another way of looking at film, and that is through its relationship with the visual arts — mainly painting, the oldest of the art forms.

Art History for Filmmakers is an inspiring guide to how images from art can be used by filmmakers to establish period detail, and to teach composition, color theory and lighting. The book looks at the key moments in the development of the Western painting, and how these became part of the Western visual culture from which cinema emerges, before exploring how paintings can be representative of different genres, such as horror, sex, violence, realism and fantasy, and how the images in these paintings connect with cinema.

Insightful case studies explore the links between art and cinema through the work of seven high-profile filmmakers, including Peter Greenaway, Peter Webber, Jack Cardiff, Martin Scorsese, Guillermo del Toro, Quentin Tarantino and Stan Douglas. A range of practical exercises are included in the text, which can be carried out singly or in small teams.

Featuring stunning full-color images, Art History for Filmmakers provides budding filmmakers with a practical guide to how images from art can help to develop their understanding of the visual language of film.