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The Arts Intel Report

A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler
A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler

Before Technicolor: Early Color on Film

A frame from L’antre Infernal, 1905.

May 20 – July 21, 2024
11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019, United States

It is said that we all perceive color differently, as color is not hard and fast but a reflection of light hitting the eye. In the early 1900s, the medium of motion pictures was still evolving, and as early as 1895, color was a fascinating special effect. Some viewed it as an unnecessary effect, while others saw it as the future of film. Before Technicolor’s “Process 3” and “Process 4” techniques took over Hollywood, filmmakers used color playfully. For example, 1905’s The Infernal Cave utilized Pathé’s stencil-coloring process, in which each film slide had colors manually applied to the black-and-white image. The exhibition “Before Technicolor” pulls hand-colored, stencil-colored, and Prizma-colored films, along with other experiments, from MoMA’s archives. —Zack Hauptman

Photo: © The Museum of Modern Art, New York

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