864 Portraits from the Film „Grimace“, 1967


Erró – Grimaces
864 Portraits from the Film „Grimace“, 1967

Edited by Axel Heil and Julien Martial, with an interview with Erró, texts by Margrit Brehm and Jean-Jacques Lebel, and a chronology by Danielle Kvaran, published by Ernest Rathenau Verlag, Karlsruhe 2018

translated by Zoë Claire Miller
288 pages, text English, hardcover
304 × 143 × 28 mm, 1020 gr., duotone/color

ISBN 978-3-946476-07-8

€ 36,00 (plus domestic shipping costs: € 5.50 / 1 copy, as of 1.12.2023)

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Between 1964 and 1967, Erró asked artists, musicians, poets, gallery owners, critics and curators to make faces for him spontaneously. Today some of these figures count among the heroes of 20th century art, while others are hardly known anymore. Celebrity culture and rankings did not yet exist in the art world of that day, and even if they had, success or fame were not relevant for Erró’s choice of protagonists. He shot the people he was friends with, he knew, or he happened to run into, for instance at the Biennale in Venice or at an opening somewhere between Paris and New York. Just as there was no script there was also no setting, he shot wherever he happened to be if the light seemed sufficient for recording with his hand-held camera. In comparison to today, the art scene was a microcosm with just a few locations, known only to insiders. Nevertheless, just how international it was is revealed by the long list of participants, which also hints at the connections between generations. Erró collected the individual “portraits” over the course of years; some sequences last only a few seconds, other up to two minutes—until the hand holding the camera is consumed by laughter and the picture starts to wobble. Finally in 1967, Denise de Casabianca mounted 173 recordings with expertise and sensitivity, resulting in a 40-minute film, with a congenial soundtrack by François Dufrêne. The result is Grimace, an experi­mental film that is as anarchistic as it is conceptual.

The desire to make a book of and about this film has been around for many years. It is now to be fulfilled on a special anniversary: 50 years after the screening of Grimace in the Museum of Modern Art in New York in February 1968, the book Erró—Grimaces is now available, presenting 133 sequences from the film, selected with Erró and Lebel. It provides a closer look at the individual shots, the presentation and actors and so offers a new approach to an unusual experiment in the multifarious oeuvre of the inter­nationally acclaimed artist, a film which remains of interest today due to its spontaneity while also providing illuminating insight into the art scene of the ’60s as a historical document.