I just saw Ironman 2 (Don’t judge) and started to think about the significance and sometimes ill placement of art and furniture in movies. In Ironman 2 and in the first Ironman, Tony Stark is portrayed as an eccentric billionaire inventor with an acute eye for design. Stark lives in a mid-century marvel-of-a-house on the coast of Malibu, California. The inside of the house seems to be designed well by the set crew with what appears to be a mix the original mid-century design and some more modern improvement that have occurred over the years through renovations.
However in both movies the two main pieces of furniture that are seen in the house and used by Stark are Mies Van Der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair and Charles and Ray Eames’ 670 and 671 lounge chair and ottoman. With someone as eccentric as Stark and with a trained assistant that has been assembling a modern art collection for ten years including a Barnett Newman piece, why does Stark not have more obscure and rare furniture. Nothing against the Barcelona Chair and the 670 and 671 lounge chair and ottoman, I love them and think they were incredibly innovative and are still great designs. However, someone who is a perfectionist and as eccentric as Stark would prefer pieces which are more conversational and require a sophisticated education to know and understand the piece.
Also I found an interesting improvement between the first movie and second dealing with the eccentric character development of Tony Stark. In the first movie Stark’s garage was filled with exotic sports cars such as Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Buggattis and a Shelby Cobra. However in the second movie, Stark’s garage is filled with one-of-a kind hotrods (it is implied that Stark Built). This fits more within the eccentric character that Stark is. Although he may have a Rolls Royce or fancy Audi to drive him around in for his public persona, he would prefer the uniqueness and individuality of a custom vehicle.
And why is it that the nemesis has the capability to bust a criminal out of prison, produce state of the art weaponry, but he lacks the ability to locate a darn parrot in Russia! I know it is just a movie.
Jon Favreau, the producer, puts in a few iconic pieces in the hopes that the audience will recognize them as symbols of wealth and distinction. Jon Favreau would be more true to the eccentricities of the character of Tony Stark by placing more obscure furniture in the film, however the immediate recognition of wealth and distinction seen through the furniture may be lost.
There is a great deal of art references and artwork seen in the movie ‘Titanic”. There has already been some blogged discussion on why James Cameron chose to include several Picasso’s on the ship, which obviously were not on the original Titanic because these paintings currently reside in National Galleries (and one particular painting wasn’t painted until 1916, after the Titanic sank). This is not my concern.
My concern is that the paintings were meant to show that Kate Winslet’s Character, Rose, is a person of distinction with an understanding of art, and not just art, but familiar with the current Parisian Avant-Garde Art scene. But somehow she is intrigued by the art of her boy toy, Jack, (Leonardo Decaprio). Jack’s sketches are definitely not avant-garde, his work is in fact traditional and elementary for what Rose would be used to seeing.
When Rose first sees Jack’s Sketches, she makes several comments regarding the sexuality and the eroticism of the subjects. If Rose was indeed as scholarly as the movie makes her out to be then she would be familiar with the work of the Austrian, Egon Shiele, whose work is incredibly erotic but also Avant-Garde.
The appreciation of Jack’s work by Rose is therefore either due to her being infatuated by Jack and therefore faking her appreciation for his work, or, more likely, a device used by the film team to necessitate the audience’s need for a common bond to the art. Placing the familiar Picasso paintings in the room with Rose gives the audience an understanding that Rose is an Elite Scholar. But also to appease the audience in the understanding of the work of Jack, the film team decided to keep Jack’s work traditional so that the majority of the audience can understand and relate to Jack’s work . In other words, the mass audience wouldn’t be an able to relate Jack’s work if it was modern because the majority of the movie audience only can relate to known modern works, so if the film depicted Jack’s work as a unique modern style foreign to the audience then the audience would lose interest because they would not be able to relate to Jack.
Hollywood has to compromise on a realistic film through the use of tactical devices in order to enable the majority of the movie audience the ablitly to relate to the characters