'Velvet Curtains and Gilded Frames' by Professor Vito Adriaensens, Forthcoming from Edinburgh University Press

Joséphine Simonian
October 18, 2023

Velvet Curtains and Gilded Frames: The Art of Early European Cinema, a new book by Adjunct Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies, Vito Adriaensens, is set to be released by Edinburgh University Press next month.

This new publication focuses on early European cinema's appropriation of nineteenth-century theatrical and pictorial strategies. Adriaensens explores an era that saw the revival of genre painting in the art academies, the supremacy of the social melodrama on the stage, and the advent of Pictorialism in photography. What Adriaensens ultimately shows is that in their quest for artistic legitimacy, European filmmakers sought to win over middle-class audiences with films based on popular works of art, employing similar visual and narrative strategies. 

Previously, Adriaensens co-wrote Screening Statues: Sculpture and Cinema (with Steven Jacobs, Susan Felleman and Lisa Colpaert), which deals with sculptural motifs from Georges Méliès's animation of statues to experiments in expanded cinema. He is also working on a book for the University of Washington Press that contextualizes the forgotten Finnish genre of the lumberjack film against the backdrop of the country’s socio-political evolutions. 

As a filmmaker, Adriaensens works primarily on celluloid. His feature scripts have advanced through programs such as the Sundance Development Track, and his award-winning experimental films have toured festivals internationally. Vito's first feature is the 35mm anthology film Ovid, New York. 

Velvet Curtains and Gilded Frames is available for preorder here.