Inside the visual aesthetic of Kubrick's films

A new exhibition highlights the auteur's keen eye for design and the work of collaborators like Saul Bass and Milena Canonero.

20 years after his death, the vision of auteur Stanley Kubrick continues to resonate, whether in homages found in films like Ready Player One, the style of Christopher Nolan or album covers by the Arctic Monkeys.

The influence of his visual aesthetics came in part from Kubrick's background as a photographer, and his collaborations with designers like Milena Canonero and Eliot Noyes to create the look of cinema classics like A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Celebrating the man's vision along with those of his collaborators is a new exhibition coming to London's Design Museum this April, named after the great director himself.

Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition features several themed rooms, each shaped around a separate film, including Barry Lyndon, Full Metal Jacket,  The Shining  and Dr Strangelove. Visitors will enter the exhibition whilst walking on a replica carpet from the iconic scene in The Shining, before entering a ‘one-point perspective’ corridor mirroring Kubrick’s famous camera techniques.

Still from A Clockwork Orange

It will also include important works by designers Hardy Amies and Ken Adam, art and photography from Diane Arbus, Allen Jones and Don McCullin, and designs from Pascal Mourgue and Saul Bass, designer of the yellow-tastic Shining movie poster.

Stanley Kubrick’s philosophy and his ability to create complete worlds with each of his films will be explored through a vast archive of research and production documents, props, set designs and storyboards.

Visitors will be able to hear personal anecdotes from those close to him and find out who Stanley was as a person and how he used innovative techniques to create his films.

The Shinning

Set design for Dr. Strangelove by Ken Adams

Featuring more than 500 objects, projections and interviews, the exhibition brings to the fore Kubrick’s innovative spirit and fascination with all aspects of design, depicting the in-depth level of detail that he put into each of his films. From predicting the modern tablet and defining the aesthetic of space exploration a year before the Moon Landing in 2001, to the use of NASA-manufactured lenses to film by candlelight in Barry Lyndon, Kubrick was just as much an inventor as a filmmaker.

Expect to see the Centrifuge-set that Kubrick (below) developed for 2001; film props such as the platoon flags and the infamous Born-to-Kill helmet worn by Private Joker in Full Metal Jacket as well as pre and post production materials loaned from the Stanley Kubrick Archive at University of the Arts London Archives and Special Collections Centre.

Don't expect though to see the lunar set made by Kubrick to fake the 1969 moon landing, as recreated in loving detail on a particularly revelatory episode of Toast of London.

Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition is on show from 26 April to 15 September 2019 at the Design Museum in Kensington, London.

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