European Exhibitions in Southampton Through Films

At the Southampton Arts Center
A scene from "Degas: Passion for Perfection," one of the films in a series to be shown by the Hamptons International Film Festival at the Southampton Arts Center

For art lovers who have missed important recent European museum exhibitions of works by Degas, Picasso, and Rembrandt, the Hamptons International Film Festival, as part of its Now Showing series, has turned to Exhibition on Screen, a pioneering producer of exhibition-based art films, for three movies focused on those masters. 

The mini-series, which is co-presented with the Southampton Arts Center, will launch Friday  with “Degas: Passion for Perfection.” The film’s director, David Bickerstaff, traveled from the streets of Paris, which provided so much subject matter for Degas, to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England, whose collection of the artist’s work is the most representative in Britain.

The filmmakers’ exclusive access to rare and diverse artworks is supplemented by written accounts by friends and commentators and letters written by Degas, all of which illuminate his experimentation with new techniques and obsessive study of past masters. 

While Pablo Picasso had a long and very public career, “Young Picasso” focuses on his early development, especially the work of his Blue and Rose periods, and the role the cities of Malaga, Barcelona, and Paris played in his formative years. 

The director Phil Grabsky, who worked closely with the Picasso museums in those three cities, concludes his film with the artist’s then-shocking 1907 painting “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” which he created when he was 25. “Young Picasso” will be shown Friday, May 10.

The series will conclude on May 17 with “Rembrandt,” featuring the exhibition that was held at the National Gallery in London and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Kat Mansoor, the filmmaker, was given access to behind-the-scenes preparations for the exhibition at both institutions as well as the artwork in the galleries. Commentary by art historians and curators elucidates Rembrandt’s life and the exhibition’s key works. 

All screenings are at 8 p.m. at the Southampton Arts Center. Tickets are $15, $10 for HIFF and SAC members.