Free Owsley Sunday Film: The Mystery of Picasso

The Mystery of Picasso (Le mystère Picasso)
Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot

Sundays, August 5–26, 1 pm


The Mystery of Picasso stands alone as one of the greatest films about the creative process of a painter. In 1955, Clouzot joined forces with his friend Picasso to make an entirely new kind of art film. They devised an innovative technique in which the camera was placed behind a semi-transparent surface on which the artist drew with special inks that bled through the canvas.

Clouzot captured a perfect reverse image of Picasso’s brushstrokes and the motion picture screen itself becomes the artist’s canvas. Here, the painter creates, and sometimes obliterates, twenty works (most of them, in fact, destroyed after the shoot), ranging from playful black-and-white sketches to Cinemascope color murals. The film is exhilarating, mesmerizing, enchanting, and unforgettable. The French government agreed and in 1984 declared it a national treasure. 1956, France, 4K DCP, in French with English subtitles, 78 minutes. Recommended for all ages.

Screened in conjunction with the exhibition Picasso to Pollock: Modern Masterworks from the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University.