The art-book "Bruegel. The Mill and the Cross" documents a joint venture of the American art historian Michael F. Gibson and Polish film director Lech Majewski.
The art-book "Bruegel. The Mill and the Cross" documents a joint venture of the American art historian Michael F. Gibson and Polish director Lech Majewski. Thanks to their joint effort the 16th century painting "The Way of the Cross" by Pieter Bruegel becomes as present today as it has never been before
The Mill and the Cross is a marriage of high art and contemporary blockbuster, a synthesis of painting, literature and film, exploring the Bruegel's world of symbols, and bringing closer the restless spirit of the sixteenth-century Netherlands and the exceptional philosophical vision of the unique painter-philosopher. A critical analysis of the image, a photo documentation from the film-set and original storyboards make a great first read before watching the movie.The book Bruegel. The Mill and the Cross begins with the title essay by an American art historian Michael F. Gibson, whose book became the inspiration for Lech Majewski's screenplay. Gibson's perceptive study of the painting is richly illustrated with fragments of Bruegel's masterpiece.
Careful contemplation of the painting brings up details which in the mythological logic of the depicted events contribute greatly to the overall sense of the painting. Gibson reaches into the hidden meaning of the world painted by Bruegel, discovering in the painting concentric planes and Bruegel's secret sources of inspiration.Gibson's essay allows us to understand the irrational presence of the mill in the painting (which according to a popular interpretation represents the erring church), perched on the top of an isolated rock, grinding the spiritual flour for the faithful. With an in-depth knowledge and passion Gibson tracks interesting details, like the meaning of the figure of the bread vendor, seated at the bottom of the canvas with his back to the viewer. According to Gibson, the figure is not just another element of the crowd eager to join the bloody spectacle, Gibson goes on to offer a different, intriguing interpretation. Majewski retains the iconic significance of Bruegel's symbols, endowing each character of this 500-years old living painting with great importance.
The contemporary part of the album consists of a photo-reportage from the film set and the original storyboard. The author of the reportage, Dagmara Drzazga, documents the working conditions in which the painterly image was translated into the 21st century film work, she succeeds in capturing the atmosphere of the film's 'making-of'. In front of the reader the still images from Way of the Cross are brought to life creating a multitude of planes and perspectives and sparkling with the intensity of the real characters. We see Majewski at work, we can hear his actors speak (Rutger Hauer - Bruegel, Michael York - Jonghelinck, Charlotte Rampling - Maria) and join the crowd of extras. The reportage gives answers to such questions as 'why New Zealand's clouds could 'play' the Brueglian sky', 'in what country were the peasant characters recruited', 'how to get today the colours found in the centuries-old painting', and finally, 'how digital technology makes the impossible possible'. The digital tapestry of Majewski's film brings the viewers closer to the immanent Absolute of the world of Bruegel, making us all contemplate anew the powerful vision of this canvas.
Lech Majewski - poet, painter, writer and director. Working in the United States, Brazil, England, Poland, Germany, France, Italy and Lithuania, Majewski brings his artistic vision into whatever medium he works in, including painting, film, installation, novel, theater and opera. Initially he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, but graduated from the Łódź Film School. He directed such films as Rycerz" / "The Knight, Więzień Rio" / "The Prisoner of Rio, Lot świerkowej gęsi" / "The Flight of the Spruce Goose, Pokój saren" / "The Room of Roes, The Gospel According to Harry, Wojaczek, Angelus, The Garden of Earthly Delights and Glass Lips. He is the co-writer and co-producer of Julian Schnabel's Basquiat. His videos, photographs and sculptures have been shown by museums and galleries around the world, including Paris Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, London's Whitechapel Art, Tokyo Image Forum, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Pittsburgh's Center for the Arts, Warsaw's Zachęta, Washington's National Gallery, National Museum in Gdańsk, Berkeley Art Museum and many other. In 2006, Museum of Modern Art in New York honoured Majewski with an individual retrospective entitled "Lech Majewski - The Magic of Moving Images." For more information about the artist please see www.lechmajewski.art.pl.
Michael Francis Gibson is an American writer, art historian and art critic. For over thirty years he has worked for the International Herald Tribune, running a column on art in this magazine. He also published in The New York Times, Art in America, Art News, Connaissance des Arts. He was the author of numerous radio programmes (on Radio Canada, France-Culture) concerning the topics of arts, culture and philosophy. Monographs written by Gibson include both whole artistic movements (like Symbolism, Dadaism) and idividual artists, including: Pieter Bruegel, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Gauguin, Odilon Redon. His nterest in cultural anthropology is reflected in the study Ces lois inconnues and the fantasy trilogy Chronicles of the Greater Dream, which was published under the pseudonym of Miguel Errazu.
The Mill and the Cross opens in Polish cinemas on March 18, 2011.
The album is available in Polish- and English-language editions.
Source: press release
- Michael Francis Gibson, Lech Majewski
Bruegel. The Mill and the Cross
Bosz Publishing House, Olszanica 2010
245 x 305, 222 ss., hard cover