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Inside Move: Fine art projects cross over to pix

Viola sees a constant dance between popular culture, high art

Fine art may seem removed from Hollywood’s pop culture precincts, but the divisions are blurring.

Oscars followed “Pollock” and “Frida,” films that depicted tortured but influential artists.

Critics also liked 1996’s “Basquiat,” about another tortured painter. It was even directed by an artist, Julian Schnabel.

More recently, Matthew Barney‘s “Cremaster” film cycle was picked up by Palm Pictures, screened in arthouses and now is headed to DVD.

“La Casa Azul,” a stage work directed by Robert Lepage, also depicts Frida Kahlo’s final minutes; its text, by Sophie Faucher, is based on Kahlo’s own writings. It’s in the midst of a national tour and just wrapped a stand at UCLA’s Freud Playhouse in Westwood, Calif.

And then there’s video art pioneer Bill Viola, whose exhibit “The Passions” just closed at the Getty Museum. (It’s headed to London’s National Gallery next.)

Viola uses some of Hollywood’s hottest technologies, including high-def video and super-speed film cameras whose output is then slowed to glacial speeds.

Influenced by the Renaissance era’s equivalent of Hollywood blockbusters — massive paintings of religious and mythological scenes — Viola’s work looks at once very old and very new.

“There’s been a constant dance between popular culture and high art,” Viola says. “You can see tons of directors and cinematographers who have deeply studied paintings.”

As for his own work, Viola says, “It’s all connected to thinking of technology as a tool that gives us truly new ways to see things.”

It all brings new meaning to the term “arthouse.”

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