ARTS & COLLECTIBLES

HOLLYWOOD COLLIDES
WITH THE
ART WORLD

Bonnie Lautenberg Channels the Creative Zeitgeist between Legendary Filmmakers and Iconic Artists: Intuitively Pairing them in “Art Meets Hollywood.”

JOSE LIMA AND BILL SPRING

 

Bonnie Lautenberg is an esteemed artist, photographer, and writer. 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, then again from 2003 until he died in 2013. She has been described as “having enough Washington insider stories to fill a book” (to be released by Rutgers University Press next year, which she is currently working on with 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. 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, to name a few. The show is in development and is slated to be directed by Sir Trevor Nunn with a book by Rupert Holmes. The Warhol Foundation has approved the performance.

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1957 – Funny Face/Clyfford Still,
PH-971
61 x 48 inches

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Lautenberg’s work is in several private collections and 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.

Her exhibition Art Meets Hollywood is Bonnie Lautenberg’s new series of digital collages, 28 diptychs pairing scenes from famous films alongside iconic works of art whose art premiered at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. Lautenberg’s only rule for her experimental process is that the film and the artwork originated within the same year. In this exhibit, Lautenberg channels the creative zeitgeist between filmmakers and artists during each year she intuitively chronicles, starting in 1928 up until 2020.

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1975 – Jaws/Willem De Kooning,
Untitled V
55 1/8 x 36 inches

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1994 – Pulp Fiction/Kenny Scharf,
Globe Glob
60 x 47.7 inches

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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 glamorous. When viewed together in a museum gallery, the combination makes perfect sense, as if they were made for each other. In another work from this series, the terrifying scene she selects from the 1975 movie Jaws literally screams above a Willem De Koning painting that conjures blood spilling into the water below. 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?

“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,” said Irvin Lippman, the Executive Director of Boca Raton Museum of Art. “Through her careful considerations, she brings to life each moment in time and the spark of creativity these pairings might have shared. Lautenberg possesses a keen eye for the visual elements of humanity and culture that arise. The brilliance of these juxtapositions is how she illuminates the psychological connections between each film scene and artwork.”

 

1965 – Red Desert/Lucio Fontana,
Concetto Spaziale, Attese
38 x 43 3/8 inches

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2016 – Hidden Figures/Mark Bradford,
Tomorrow is Another Day
50 x 42 inches

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1952 – Singin’ in the Rain/Yayoi Kusama,
The Sea
44.8 x 66 inches

 

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. “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.

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1999 – American Beauty/James Turrell,
The Light Inside
55.5 x 48 inches

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1932 – Grand Hotel/Georgia O’Keeffe,
Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1
52 x 36 inches

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1940 – The Philadelphia Story/Stuart Davis,
Hot Still - Scape for Six Colors-7th Avenue Style
48 x 36.5 inches

 

Some of Lautenberg’s pairings in the series featured at the Boca Raton Museum also stem from her personal history. In the 1960s, her father purchased the 1940s Stuart Davis painting Hot Still-Scape for Six Colors ‒ 7th Avenue Style. In this pairing, she juxtaposes the Davis painting with a scene from the 1940 film The Philadelphia Story (pictured right). Lautenberg admired this painting at home during her childhood, and the family sold the painting some 25 years later.

Ultimately, the work 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.

Lautenberg’s “1952” is 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 movie version. In keeping with Bonnie Lautenberg’s keen ability to tune in to the zeitgeist, this newly released high-resolution anniversary edition of the film is currently making headlines worldwide with screenings across multiple cities and at major festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival.

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1928 –The Mysterious Lady/Rene Magritte,
The Lovers
60.61 x 40 inches

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1938 – Jezebel/Henri Matisse,
Lady in Blue
26 x 37.7 inches

 

 

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