Former MP's film memorabilia a work of art

METROPOLIS: ROTWANG’S ROBOT, REVOLUTION AND REDEMPTION

November 30 – February 3

Wollongong City Gallery

The objects in the exhibition Metropolis: Rotwang's Robot, Revolution and Redemption started out as marketing material for the landmark 1927 film Metropolis, by German director Fritz Lang.

In the intervening years they have evolved from commercial products into memorabilia and collectables - the works in this exhibition all come from the private collection of former Greens MP Michael Organ.

They are now being displayed in an art gallery, but can they be legitimately classified as art?

In the case of Metropolis at least, Organ has no doubt that film memorabilia belongs in the gallery.

"Definitely," Organ says. Memorabilia is "being used for exhibitions because it does reflect the art of the time. Metropolis reflects the German Expressionist and the Dada art of the 1920s.

"When you combine the artistic quality with the rarity - they never made it to art galleries and museums but they are cultural artefacts - they reflect a lot of the culture of the time.

"People are now looking at these posters, and what we might consider ephemera today might in 50 or so years be seen as real works of art.

"The link between commercial and non-commercial art is blurring."

Many artists worked on Metropolis.

Lang, the director, was influenced by art movements, particularly the Bauhaus school, which he drew on for the lighting, staging, set design and cinematography.

"So many artists in Berlin and Germany worked on the set design, so there is a lot of German Expressionist art reflected in the film as well," Organ says.

When the film was released, many of the posters and other marketing material were designed by well-known artists.

"A lot of major artists in the '20s and '30s in Germany and Europe earned a living producing artwork for movie posters," Organ says.

"The posters for the French release by [Russian-born artist] Boris Bilinsky had incredible design."

If Metropolis drew on the art of its day, it in turn has gone on to influence generations of artists.

"It's been a very influential film," Organ says. "An example of that is Ridley Scott's movie Blade Runner, also the robot out of Metropolis was used by George Lucas in producing the C3PO robot in Star Wars.

"In Blade Runner [Scott] has actually used some of the buildings from Metropolis and dropped them straight into his movie.

"In Japan Astroboy was derived from the original Metropolis robot, and a lot of anime goes back to that first showing of Metropolis.

"Various artists over the years have interpreted the film and used its graphics.

"Lady Gaga recently used the Metropolis theme as a background to a photo shoot.

"I think it will continue to have an influence. As a movie it is flawed, but it's also one of the most significant movies ever made."

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