January 12, 2015 / 5:59 PM / 3 years ago

Film series brings major art exhibitions to U.S. theaters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Filmmakers are bringing major art exhibitions featuring the works of Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh and Rembrandt from museums around the globe to U.S. theaters with a series of movies that will take audiences on a guided tour of the shows.

An employee poses with paper cut outs from the "Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs" exhibition at the Tate Modern gallery in London, in this file photo taken April 14, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/Files

The first film, “Matisse from MoMA and Tate Modern,” will be screened up to 350 selected theaters across the United States on Tuesday. It details the acclaimed “Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs,” exhibition, which attracted more than 560,000 visitors to London’s Tate Modern, making it the museum’s most popular show ever.

With 100 works from private and public collections, drawings, textiles and stained glass made during the final years of Matisse’s life, the exhibition transferred to New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), where it will run through early February

Like performances by New York’s Metropolitan Opera broadcast live to movie theaters, the art films are designed to bring the exhibitions to a larger audience.

“For the 95 percent of our audience that can’t get to the exhibition, we want to give them the next best thing,” said Phil Grabsky of UK-based Seventh Art Productions, the producer of the “Exhibition on Screen” series.

“We also want to show them, behind the scenes, how these things are put together. It is fascinating to be with the curators when they are deciding how to hang the works, what color the walls should be,” he added in an interview.

The 80-minute film, directed by Grabsky, includes a tour of the exhibition, biographical information, commentary and interviews with the curators and a former assistant to Matisse.

It will be followed in the series by “Rembrandt from the National Gallery, London, & Rijksmuseum Amsterdam,” which will be screened on Feb. 24, and “Vincent van Gogh - A New Way of Seeing from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam,” on April 14.

Other films will focus on Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” and treasures from the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague as well as Impressionist works from the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris, National Gallery in London and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Both of those films will be screened during the summer.

“We want to encourage people to go to the exhibition if they can. More to the point, we want to encourage people to go to their local gallery, no matter how big or small, and to look at any artwork,” Grabsky added.

Reporting by Patricia Reaney, editing by G Crosse

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