Jean Painlevé preparing to film underwater in 1935 (© Archives Jean Painlevé, Paris, courtesy of Ikon Gallery, Birmingham)
Films of seahorses giving birth, close-ups of sea urchin spines, and footage of Alexander Calder making a toy horse gallop in circles are three of the highlights in a major exhibition dedicated to the film-maker Jean Painlevé (1902-89), opening this month at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham (15 March-4 June). Painlevé’s work influenced Surrealists including Luis Buñuel and Man Ray and writers like Georges Bataille. His films are undergoing something of a renaissance “impinging on the consciousness” of contemporary artists like Pierre Huyghe, says the Ikon Gallery’s director, Jonathan Watkins. The films, along with photographs and jewellery, come from the Archives Jean Painlevé in Paris, which are—like his films—“another world”, Watkins says. The show is accompanied by a catalogue that includes essays by Watkins and Marie Jager.