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Surrealist Films & the Villa Noailles

Following our post on 20th century art patrons Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, a visit to the Villa Noailles itself this weekend allowed for an up-close-and-personal look at this seminal couple’s summer living quarters, a smattering of personal ephemera and a screening of their aforementioned 1928 film, “Biceps et Bijoux,” a commission by surrealist filmmaker Jacques Manuel.  Intended for home viewing, the informal film provides an amusing glimpse into daily summer life at the villa in the late 20s, featuring the couple and their group of friends exercising together– very forward thinking for its time– and frolicking about the pool in matching outfits; a team of surrealist-loving misfits on summer vacation.

Later that same year, Man Ray was commissioned to create an entirely different kind of film, “Les Mystères du Château de Dé,” which also starred the Villa Noailles, albeit with a jittery, constantly moving camera that sought to capture the villa’s architecture, interspersed with existential questions like “Don’t the minutes we live leave tangible traces in the air and on the earth?”

Traces were left, indeed, as Charles and Marie-Laure de Noaille’s indelible support of Surrealist film and art in the 20th century created a body of work that is at times seductive, witty, charming and ahead of its time– whether it was their own piece or the works of others that they helped to create.

Below, a series of still images shot during a screening of Biceps et Bijoux.

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