Editorial

Drama in Detroit

Although in times of financial stringency cuts score into every aspect of daily life, the arts are an especially vulnerable target because they are often perceived as being of no use. They are the decoration of life, sources of pleasure and entertainment lightly attached to the hard surface of daily realities. They are not easy to defend in the face of the imperatives of Education, Health, Welfare, Transport etc, all of which have universal, practical visibility. Governments often only attend to the arts if they can be factored into plans for the regeneration of particular areas or harnessed to broader educational needs. 

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Patrick Caulfield. London

Wedged between two lamps, a corpulent and sweaty Orson Welles addresses Marlene Dietrich (the rather unlikely madam of a brothel) in Patrick Caulfield’s favourite film Touch of Evil. These lamps are not illuminating anything; the light source is low, frontal, throwing strong shadows, and the contrast between bright and dark areas of the set obscures parts of the scene. This is classic use of film noir ‘key lighting’ – a recognised lighting style wherein the key light (the frontal illumination) is much more intense than the fill light, creating artificially strong shadows. Key lighting was also used by Alfred Hitchcock, another Caulfield favourite, who employed wall or table lamps in many of his films, not as direct light sources but as dumb protagonists witnessing an interior drama. Caulfield’s love of film noir and his understanding of this use of contemporary chiaroscuro underpinned much of the sophisticated picture-making that was to inform and drive his later work.

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