is a series that seeks to find an essence of cinema history in one single image of a movie.The Lubitsch throwaway, it’s fleeting, two seconds. A fugitive joke. Nicole (Claudette Colbert
), deco-tropique on the French Riviera laments these times to her pal, Albert (David Niven
): “Right in the middle of a manicure the proprietor came in and presented me with last month’s bill.” “Did you pay?” “What do you think?” In a gap of dialogue, her half-manicured hand. Flung into purely pictorial space, transported off the beach, the visual field flattens, figure abstracts. The punchline: an optical passage in rapport with contemporary Surrealists. Alongside the moody and erotic disembodiment of Dora Maar
’s Main-coquillage and Magritte’s playful paratext resides this destabilizing frame. The invisible hand of Lubitsch. A touché. A “This is not a —.” These artistic interrogations of language and reality responded to heady anxieties of the time.