The films of Jean-Luc Godard have been written about perhaps more than any other cinematic works, often through the lens of cultural theory, but not nearly enough attention has been paid to the role of designed objects in his films. Collages of art, literature, language, objects, and words, Godard’s films have an instant, impactful, graphic quality, but are far from simple pop artifacts. The thesis this presentation derives from, “Objects to be Read, Words to be Seen: Design and Visual Language in the Films of Jean-Luc Godard 1959–1967,” explores and interprets the role of visual language within the films—title sequences, intertitles, handwritten utterances, and printed matter in the form of newspapers, magazines, and posters.
By examining le graphisme within the cultural context of Paris during the 1960s, this thesis seeks to amplify the significance of graphic design in Godard’s first fifteen films, beginning with 1960’s À Bout de Souffle (Breathless) and ending with 1967’s Weekend. While Godard was not a practicing graphic designer in the traditional sense, he was an amateur de design, an autodidact whose obsession with designed objects, graphic language and print media resulted in the most iconic body of work in 1960s France.
The School of Visual Arts MFA Design Criticism Department presented “Crossing the Line: The 2010 D-Crit Conference" organized by graduating D-Crit students at the SVA Theatre in New York City on Friday, April 30 2010.