1970s film collage

Stills from (alphabetically) “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Chinatown,” “The Conversation,” “Five Easy Pieces,” and “Nashville.”

Moving Art Imitating Life

Robert Slifkin, associate professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, teaches the seminar The Slow Decade: Hollywood in the 1970s. While most of the films do fall within the Me Decade—Chinatown (1974), Five Easy Pieces (1970), Nashville (1975), and The Conversation (1974)—a couple of gems came a bit earlier: Bonnie and Clyde and 2001: A Space Odyssey date to 1967 and 1968, respectively; here, the 1970s is more a creative attitude than a time frame. “These are the first movies to match the artistic importance of other forms of visual fine arts,” Slifkin says. In addition to the storytelling featuring a nonlinear format set at a relatively leisurely pace, another hallmark was their celluloid antiheroes: white male protagonists who often suffered bodily harm. “I think it has to do with a sense of guilt on the part of white liberals that the reforms and revolutionary politics some fought for in the previous decade never came to pass,” Slifkin notes, “as well as the sense that white males represented the dominating class that was in large part responsible for the oppression of others.”
—Dulcy Israel





“I am completely operational, and all my circuits are functioning perfectly.” —HAL 9000, 2001: A Space Odyssey

Photos: MGM/Photofest (2001: A Space Odyssey); Warner Brothers/Seven Arts/Photofest (Bonnie and Clyde); Columbia Pictures/Photofest (Five Easy Pieces); Paramount Pictures/Photofest (Chinatown, Nashville, The Conversation)

Archeology photo collage

The image of an auroch—a wild cow—is engraved on limestone discovered in a partially collapsed rock shelter of Abri Blanchard in southwest France. (Photo: Jugie)

Points in Time

About 38,000 years before Georges Seurat was applying tiny brushstrokes of paint to canvas, the technique known as pointillism was already all the rage. “Connecting dots to form a conceptual line is a pretty major development in evolution,” says Arts and Science anthropology professor Randall White, whose unearthing of 16 engraved and painted limestone blocks in France’s Vézère Valley confirmed the practice by Europe’s earliest human culture, the Aurignacian. The imagery on the slabs is particularly notable because people were beginning then to construct group identity. “The more convincing your illusion becomes, the more credible the work is in terms of convincing people around you that it represents that animal and things about that animal,” White says. “Pointillism is one way of achieving that.” Splashes of dots may also have been intended to communicate abstractions that couldn’t be conveyed with a squiggly line. “You can imagine the kerfuffle that would surround the movement of [a big male auroch, now extinct] weighing 3,000 pounds in the context of humans hunting,” says White. “It could be anything from dust to noise to danger.”
—Dulcy Israel




“Connecting dots to form a conceptual line is a pretty major development in evolution,” says Arts and Science anthropology professor Randall White.

Mudd Slinger

One recent night at the Fales Library, a packed room including designer Marc Jacobs and actress Debi Mazer had the opportunity to experience—or, for some, relive—the heady action that swirled around the most storied proto-punk venue in late-1970s Manhattan. Artist Richard Boch, then an NYU graduate student and doorman at the TriBeCa celebrity mecca for nearly two years, was reading from his memoir, The Mudd Club. The converted White Street warehouse officially opened on Halloween 1978 with a $2.52 admission charge (“We had to make a lot of change that night,” Boch recalls). The B-52s headlined, and, Boch says, “everyone remembers being there, whether they really were there or not.” 
—Dulcy Israel (Reporting by Simons Finnerty)

Richard Boch

Richard Boch works the door

Photos: Allan Tannenbaum/Getty Images (Boch); courtesy of Feral House Publishing (book); courtesy of the Haring Foundation (ID card)

The Mudd Club book cover

Keith Haring's ID card

Keith Haring's ID card