Conception, dates

Henry Valensi considered it essential in the evolution of painting to introduce real movement in the space of the canvas: this became “cinepainting”, a term of his invention. The artist worked entirely alone to produce his first 30 minute work using 64 000 coloured sketches on transparent celluloid frames based on the Spring Symphony canvas he painted in 1932. This was one of the first animations of abstraction.

Correspondence with the Disney Studios suggests that Walt Disney was inspired by these concepts in the making of his film “Fantasia” in 1940.

Sring Symphony. 1932. Oil on canvas.


First and subsequent presentations

In 1959, one year before he died, Valensi presents his film at the Gran Premio Bergamo Festival. His presentation during the conference in Bergamo (link to extracts) remains the most complete description (overall and each sequence) to date.

The film was shown on a loop in a dedicated space in the context of the collection hang entitled “Plural Modernities” at the Centre Pompidou in Paris from October 2013 to January 2015. > Here is the introduction by curator Michel Gauthier.

It was shown in the monographic exhibition at the Galerie Le Minotaure in Paris (October/ November 2014) and screened in the FIAC film programme in that same context. It was the central motivation for the eponymous exhibition at the Galerie Hors-Les-Murs in Marseille during the Printemps de l’Art Contemporain 2014 curated by Caroline Hancock.


Convex form

Curvilinear form

This experimental film was made with various processes ranging from Kodacolor, to Gevacolor and Eastmancolor. Technically, Valensi painted each celluloid which he then filmed, one image after another, on 35 mm film stock. Most of these celluloids are now preserved at the CNC (Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée, in Bois d’Arcy) where the film was restored and digitised.

celluloïds of the cinepainting Spring symphony