Fotograf Magazine

Frederick Kiesler

Film in the Architecture of the Cinema

On February 1, 1929, the Film Guild Cinema opened at 52 W. 8th St. in Greenwich Village, New York City. In the promotion materials, invitation and short press releases published on the occasion of its inauguration, it was billed as The First 100% Cinema in the United States. The exterior of the plain dark two-storey building with a raised ground floor was structured merely by windows and plastic geometric phasing. The latter was achieved by means of light prisms which formed the decorative construction of the facade. The opening of the cinema was attended by New York’s artistic and social elite of the period, including film director David W. Griffith, writer Theodore Dreiser and composer George Gershwin. With its hall seating 500 spectators, which was rather small for period conditions, the new building was commissioned by the Film Arts Guild. The Guild specialized in importing art films and experimental films from abroad, presenting them through American distribution. The investment in the new space was not linked to the vision of the transformation of the cinematographic system but rather to the increase of the number of cinemas in the city’s downtown and to the promotion of European modernism.

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Film Guild Cinema, New York, 1929, Screen-o-scope s vertikálním obdélníkem, © 2012 Rakouská soukromá nadace Fredericka a Lillian Kiesler, Vídeň
Film Guild Cinema, New York, 1929, Screen-o-scope kočičí oko, Fotografie: Ruth Bernhard © 2012 Rakouská soukromá nadace Fredericka a Lillian Kiesler, Vídeň