08/12/2022
Discussions
Adam Wells
What can the Sight and Sound poll tell us about the evolution of the artistic canon?
We take a look into how the recent poll represents the shift in cultural discussion...

Arguably one of the most respected film polls of all time, Sight and Sound this week released their decennial list of the greatest films of all time, as voted for by 1,639 critics, programmers, curators, archivists and academics. In this latest iteration, previous winners Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) and Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) were usurped by Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), marking the first time a film directed by a woman has featured in the top 10, let alone in first place. With films from Claire Denis, Agnès Varda and Maya Deren appearing elsewhere in the top twenty and marking an influx of previously-overlooked films directed by women, the poll suggests a re-evaluation of the cinematic canon over the last decade, bringing to mind several questions; what even is the ‘canon’? Who decides what is included? Just how definitive can it be?

Previous winner Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)

The results of of the poll suggest an understanding of the canon as something continually changing and evolving rather than steadfastly fixed, as demonstrated by the addition of four films from the last five years (Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2016), Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, 2019), Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016) and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, 2019)), as well as Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) - the winner of the top spot in the inaugural 1952 poll - slipping down to 41st. Sight and Sound themselves have noted evolving cultural attitudes as a potential catalyst for change - notable for their absence in the latest poll are such controversial directors as Roman Polanski and D.W. Griffith - although the concerted efforts to diversify the voting pool begun in 2012 and continued this year may also account for the wider breadth of stories being told in the films selected; of the four films from the past decade mentioned previously, it is notable that both Moonlight and Portrait of a Lady on Fire are centered around queer romances.

The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000)

Meanwhile, the nature of the pool taking place once per decade allows greater opportunity for considered reflection of a film’s technical importance and contributions to the art form; Daziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera (1929), for instance, has long been a mainstay for its early formal experimentation, but the addition of the comparatively recent The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000) as what Sukhdev Sandhu describes as “The first great digital film” frames cinema as a still-evolving art form, suggesting that the ‘canon’ should be equally ever-changing.

Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943)

This is not to say that all of the new additions to the poll are recent developments; as a new generation of critics and cultural commentators are included each decade, older films still strike a chord, from the surrealist and anarchic feminism of Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943) and Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966) respectively to interrogations of class and race in Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970) and Black Girl (Ousmane Sembène, 1965). From this it becomes clear that changes to the canon don’t just come about from the addition of new works, but also from shifting cultural conversation and re-evaluation of existing works.

Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966)

The questions discussed here naturally extend beyond the film world and into the wider artistic community; just looking back over the past twelve months, high-profile galleries have been replete with exhibitions seeking to expand the canon; the Tate Modern’s Surrealism Beyond Borders, for instance, presented an alternative view of the movement beyond its typical pigeonholing in 1920s Paris, instead spotlighting the women, non-Western artists and later contributors to surrealism. Meanwhile, Hayward Gallery’s Strange Clay sought to canonise ceramics as a medium beyond the typical functionality usually associated with it, giving space for artists to demonstrate their use of clay as a means of artistic expression within a contemporary context. Indeed, the most celebrated art book of the year, Katy Hessel’s The Story of Art Without Men has been widely praised for its bold reimagining of the canon, a direct response to E. H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art, which in its original 1950 edition featured no female artists.

Detail from Bélial, Emperor of the Flies (Wifredo Lam, 1948), displayed as part of Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern

Considering all of this, it is worth remembering that the Sight and Sound poll - and indeed any collection of great artworks - does not claim to be any kind of definitive canon. While the site describes it as ‘a major bellwether of critical opinion on cinema’ simply for its breadth of participants, its publication of individual critic and director submissions makes it clear that the personal artistic canon is just as important as any amalgamate. The publication of the poll ushered in a wave of social media posts in which people outlined their own personal top ten, decried the lack of inclusion for their own personal favourites, and celebrated the wider championing of underseen works. The role of the canon, then, is not to create an unchanging, monolithic list of ‘great works’, but instead to encourage readers to do the same, to engage with art forms on their own terms and consider what they value and how it is reflected in their choices.

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
08/12/2022
Discussions
Adam Wells
What can the Sight and Sound poll tell us about the evolution of the artistic canon?
We take a look into how the recent poll represents the shift in cultural discussion...

Arguably one of the most respected film polls of all time, Sight and Sound this week released their decennial list of the greatest films of all time, as voted for by 1,639 critics, programmers, curators, archivists and academics. In this latest iteration, previous winners Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) and Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) were usurped by Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), marking the first time a film directed by a woman has featured in the top 10, let alone in first place. With films from Claire Denis, Agnès Varda and Maya Deren appearing elsewhere in the top twenty and marking an influx of previously-overlooked films directed by women, the poll suggests a re-evaluation of the cinematic canon over the last decade, bringing to mind several questions; what even is the ‘canon’? Who decides what is included? Just how definitive can it be?

Previous winner Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)

The results of of the poll suggest an understanding of the canon as something continually changing and evolving rather than steadfastly fixed, as demonstrated by the addition of four films from the last five years (Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2016), Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, 2019), Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016) and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, 2019)), as well as Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) - the winner of the top spot in the inaugural 1952 poll - slipping down to 41st. Sight and Sound themselves have noted evolving cultural attitudes as a potential catalyst for change - notable for their absence in the latest poll are such controversial directors as Roman Polanski and D.W. Griffith - although the concerted efforts to diversify the voting pool begun in 2012 and continued this year may also account for the wider breadth of stories being told in the films selected; of the four films from the past decade mentioned previously, it is notable that both Moonlight and Portrait of a Lady on Fire are centered around queer romances.

The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000)

Meanwhile, the nature of the pool taking place once per decade allows greater opportunity for considered reflection of a film’s technical importance and contributions to the art form; Daziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera (1929), for instance, has long been a mainstay for its early formal experimentation, but the addition of the comparatively recent The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000) as what Sukhdev Sandhu describes as “The first great digital film” frames cinema as a still-evolving art form, suggesting that the ‘canon’ should be equally ever-changing.

Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943)

This is not to say that all of the new additions to the poll are recent developments; as a new generation of critics and cultural commentators are included each decade, older films still strike a chord, from the surrealist and anarchic feminism of Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943) and Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966) respectively to interrogations of class and race in Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970) and Black Girl (Ousmane Sembène, 1965). From this it becomes clear that changes to the canon don’t just come about from the addition of new works, but also from shifting cultural conversation and re-evaluation of existing works.

Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966)

The questions discussed here naturally extend beyond the film world and into the wider artistic community; just looking back over the past twelve months, high-profile galleries have been replete with exhibitions seeking to expand the canon; the Tate Modern’s Surrealism Beyond Borders, for instance, presented an alternative view of the movement beyond its typical pigeonholing in 1920s Paris, instead spotlighting the women, non-Western artists and later contributors to surrealism. Meanwhile, Hayward Gallery’s Strange Clay sought to canonise ceramics as a medium beyond the typical functionality usually associated with it, giving space for artists to demonstrate their use of clay as a means of artistic expression within a contemporary context. Indeed, the most celebrated art book of the year, Katy Hessel’s The Story of Art Without Men has been widely praised for its bold reimagining of the canon, a direct response to E. H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art, which in its original 1950 edition featured no female artists.

Detail from Bélial, Emperor of the Flies (Wifredo Lam, 1948), displayed as part of Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern

Considering all of this, it is worth remembering that the Sight and Sound poll - and indeed any collection of great artworks - does not claim to be any kind of definitive canon. While the site describes it as ‘a major bellwether of critical opinion on cinema’ simply for its breadth of participants, its publication of individual critic and director submissions makes it clear that the personal artistic canon is just as important as any amalgamate. The publication of the poll ushered in a wave of social media posts in which people outlined their own personal top ten, decried the lack of inclusion for their own personal favourites, and celebrated the wider championing of underseen works. The role of the canon, then, is not to create an unchanging, monolithic list of ‘great works’, but instead to encourage readers to do the same, to engage with art forms on their own terms and consider what they value and how it is reflected in their choices.

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
08/12/2022
Discussions
Adam Wells
What can the Sight and Sound poll tell us about the evolution of the artistic canon?
We take a look into how the recent poll represents the shift in cultural discussion...

Arguably one of the most respected film polls of all time, Sight and Sound this week released their decennial list of the greatest films of all time, as voted for by 1,639 critics, programmers, curators, archivists and academics. In this latest iteration, previous winners Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) and Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) were usurped by Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), marking the first time a film directed by a woman has featured in the top 10, let alone in first place. With films from Claire Denis, Agnès Varda and Maya Deren appearing elsewhere in the top twenty and marking an influx of previously-overlooked films directed by women, the poll suggests a re-evaluation of the cinematic canon over the last decade, bringing to mind several questions; what even is the ‘canon’? Who decides what is included? Just how definitive can it be?

Previous winner Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)

The results of of the poll suggest an understanding of the canon as something continually changing and evolving rather than steadfastly fixed, as demonstrated by the addition of four films from the last five years (Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2016), Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, 2019), Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016) and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, 2019)), as well as Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) - the winner of the top spot in the inaugural 1952 poll - slipping down to 41st. Sight and Sound themselves have noted evolving cultural attitudes as a potential catalyst for change - notable for their absence in the latest poll are such controversial directors as Roman Polanski and D.W. Griffith - although the concerted efforts to diversify the voting pool begun in 2012 and continued this year may also account for the wider breadth of stories being told in the films selected; of the four films from the past decade mentioned previously, it is notable that both Moonlight and Portrait of a Lady on Fire are centered around queer romances.

The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000)

Meanwhile, the nature of the pool taking place once per decade allows greater opportunity for considered reflection of a film’s technical importance and contributions to the art form; Daziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera (1929), for instance, has long been a mainstay for its early formal experimentation, but the addition of the comparatively recent The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000) as what Sukhdev Sandhu describes as “The first great digital film” frames cinema as a still-evolving art form, suggesting that the ‘canon’ should be equally ever-changing.

Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943)

This is not to say that all of the new additions to the poll are recent developments; as a new generation of critics and cultural commentators are included each decade, older films still strike a chord, from the surrealist and anarchic feminism of Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943) and Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966) respectively to interrogations of class and race in Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970) and Black Girl (Ousmane Sembène, 1965). From this it becomes clear that changes to the canon don’t just come about from the addition of new works, but also from shifting cultural conversation and re-evaluation of existing works.

Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966)

The questions discussed here naturally extend beyond the film world and into the wider artistic community; just looking back over the past twelve months, high-profile galleries have been replete with exhibitions seeking to expand the canon; the Tate Modern’s Surrealism Beyond Borders, for instance, presented an alternative view of the movement beyond its typical pigeonholing in 1920s Paris, instead spotlighting the women, non-Western artists and later contributors to surrealism. Meanwhile, Hayward Gallery’s Strange Clay sought to canonise ceramics as a medium beyond the typical functionality usually associated with it, giving space for artists to demonstrate their use of clay as a means of artistic expression within a contemporary context. Indeed, the most celebrated art book of the year, Katy Hessel’s The Story of Art Without Men has been widely praised for its bold reimagining of the canon, a direct response to E. H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art, which in its original 1950 edition featured no female artists.

Detail from Bélial, Emperor of the Flies (Wifredo Lam, 1948), displayed as part of Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern

Considering all of this, it is worth remembering that the Sight and Sound poll - and indeed any collection of great artworks - does not claim to be any kind of definitive canon. While the site describes it as ‘a major bellwether of critical opinion on cinema’ simply for its breadth of participants, its publication of individual critic and director submissions makes it clear that the personal artistic canon is just as important as any amalgamate. The publication of the poll ushered in a wave of social media posts in which people outlined their own personal top ten, decried the lack of inclusion for their own personal favourites, and celebrated the wider championing of underseen works. The role of the canon, then, is not to create an unchanging, monolithic list of ‘great works’, but instead to encourage readers to do the same, to engage with art forms on their own terms and consider what they value and how it is reflected in their choices.

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
08/12/2022
Discussions
Adam Wells
What can the Sight and Sound poll tell us about the evolution of the artistic canon?
We take a look into how the recent poll represents the shift in cultural discussion...

Arguably one of the most respected film polls of all time, Sight and Sound this week released their decennial list of the greatest films of all time, as voted for by 1,639 critics, programmers, curators, archivists and academics. In this latest iteration, previous winners Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) and Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) were usurped by Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), marking the first time a film directed by a woman has featured in the top 10, let alone in first place. With films from Claire Denis, Agnès Varda and Maya Deren appearing elsewhere in the top twenty and marking an influx of previously-overlooked films directed by women, the poll suggests a re-evaluation of the cinematic canon over the last decade, bringing to mind several questions; what even is the ‘canon’? Who decides what is included? Just how definitive can it be?

Previous winner Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)

The results of of the poll suggest an understanding of the canon as something continually changing and evolving rather than steadfastly fixed, as demonstrated by the addition of four films from the last five years (Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2016), Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, 2019), Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016) and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, 2019)), as well as Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) - the winner of the top spot in the inaugural 1952 poll - slipping down to 41st. Sight and Sound themselves have noted evolving cultural attitudes as a potential catalyst for change - notable for their absence in the latest poll are such controversial directors as Roman Polanski and D.W. Griffith - although the concerted efforts to diversify the voting pool begun in 2012 and continued this year may also account for the wider breadth of stories being told in the films selected; of the four films from the past decade mentioned previously, it is notable that both Moonlight and Portrait of a Lady on Fire are centered around queer romances.

The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000)

Meanwhile, the nature of the pool taking place once per decade allows greater opportunity for considered reflection of a film’s technical importance and contributions to the art form; Daziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera (1929), for instance, has long been a mainstay for its early formal experimentation, but the addition of the comparatively recent The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000) as what Sukhdev Sandhu describes as “The first great digital film” frames cinema as a still-evolving art form, suggesting that the ‘canon’ should be equally ever-changing.

Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943)

This is not to say that all of the new additions to the poll are recent developments; as a new generation of critics and cultural commentators are included each decade, older films still strike a chord, from the surrealist and anarchic feminism of Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943) and Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966) respectively to interrogations of class and race in Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970) and Black Girl (Ousmane Sembène, 1965). From this it becomes clear that changes to the canon don’t just come about from the addition of new works, but also from shifting cultural conversation and re-evaluation of existing works.

Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966)

The questions discussed here naturally extend beyond the film world and into the wider artistic community; just looking back over the past twelve months, high-profile galleries have been replete with exhibitions seeking to expand the canon; the Tate Modern’s Surrealism Beyond Borders, for instance, presented an alternative view of the movement beyond its typical pigeonholing in 1920s Paris, instead spotlighting the women, non-Western artists and later contributors to surrealism. Meanwhile, Hayward Gallery’s Strange Clay sought to canonise ceramics as a medium beyond the typical functionality usually associated with it, giving space for artists to demonstrate their use of clay as a means of artistic expression within a contemporary context. Indeed, the most celebrated art book of the year, Katy Hessel’s The Story of Art Without Men has been widely praised for its bold reimagining of the canon, a direct response to E. H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art, which in its original 1950 edition featured no female artists.

Detail from Bélial, Emperor of the Flies (Wifredo Lam, 1948), displayed as part of Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern

Considering all of this, it is worth remembering that the Sight and Sound poll - and indeed any collection of great artworks - does not claim to be any kind of definitive canon. While the site describes it as ‘a major bellwether of critical opinion on cinema’ simply for its breadth of participants, its publication of individual critic and director submissions makes it clear that the personal artistic canon is just as important as any amalgamate. The publication of the poll ushered in a wave of social media posts in which people outlined their own personal top ten, decried the lack of inclusion for their own personal favourites, and celebrated the wider championing of underseen works. The role of the canon, then, is not to create an unchanging, monolithic list of ‘great works’, but instead to encourage readers to do the same, to engage with art forms on their own terms and consider what they value and how it is reflected in their choices.

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
08/12/2022
Discussions
Adam Wells
What can the Sight and Sound poll tell us about the evolution of the artistic canon?
We take a look into how the recent poll represents the shift in cultural discussion...

Arguably one of the most respected film polls of all time, Sight and Sound this week released their decennial list of the greatest films of all time, as voted for by 1,639 critics, programmers, curators, archivists and academics. In this latest iteration, previous winners Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) and Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) were usurped by Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), marking the first time a film directed by a woman has featured in the top 10, let alone in first place. With films from Claire Denis, Agnès Varda and Maya Deren appearing elsewhere in the top twenty and marking an influx of previously-overlooked films directed by women, the poll suggests a re-evaluation of the cinematic canon over the last decade, bringing to mind several questions; what even is the ‘canon’? Who decides what is included? Just how definitive can it be?

Previous winner Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)

The results of of the poll suggest an understanding of the canon as something continually changing and evolving rather than steadfastly fixed, as demonstrated by the addition of four films from the last five years (Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2016), Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, 2019), Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016) and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, 2019)), as well as Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) - the winner of the top spot in the inaugural 1952 poll - slipping down to 41st. Sight and Sound themselves have noted evolving cultural attitudes as a potential catalyst for change - notable for their absence in the latest poll are such controversial directors as Roman Polanski and D.W. Griffith - although the concerted efforts to diversify the voting pool begun in 2012 and continued this year may also account for the wider breadth of stories being told in the films selected; of the four films from the past decade mentioned previously, it is notable that both Moonlight and Portrait of a Lady on Fire are centered around queer romances.

The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000)

Meanwhile, the nature of the pool taking place once per decade allows greater opportunity for considered reflection of a film’s technical importance and contributions to the art form; Daziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera (1929), for instance, has long been a mainstay for its early formal experimentation, but the addition of the comparatively recent The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000) as what Sukhdev Sandhu describes as “The first great digital film” frames cinema as a still-evolving art form, suggesting that the ‘canon’ should be equally ever-changing.

Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943)

This is not to say that all of the new additions to the poll are recent developments; as a new generation of critics and cultural commentators are included each decade, older films still strike a chord, from the surrealist and anarchic feminism of Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943) and Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966) respectively to interrogations of class and race in Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970) and Black Girl (Ousmane Sembène, 1965). From this it becomes clear that changes to the canon don’t just come about from the addition of new works, but also from shifting cultural conversation and re-evaluation of existing works.

Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966)

The questions discussed here naturally extend beyond the film world and into the wider artistic community; just looking back over the past twelve months, high-profile galleries have been replete with exhibitions seeking to expand the canon; the Tate Modern’s Surrealism Beyond Borders, for instance, presented an alternative view of the movement beyond its typical pigeonholing in 1920s Paris, instead spotlighting the women, non-Western artists and later contributors to surrealism. Meanwhile, Hayward Gallery’s Strange Clay sought to canonise ceramics as a medium beyond the typical functionality usually associated with it, giving space for artists to demonstrate their use of clay as a means of artistic expression within a contemporary context. Indeed, the most celebrated art book of the year, Katy Hessel’s The Story of Art Without Men has been widely praised for its bold reimagining of the canon, a direct response to E. H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art, which in its original 1950 edition featured no female artists.

Detail from Bélial, Emperor of the Flies (Wifredo Lam, 1948), displayed as part of Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern

Considering all of this, it is worth remembering that the Sight and Sound poll - and indeed any collection of great artworks - does not claim to be any kind of definitive canon. While the site describes it as ‘a major bellwether of critical opinion on cinema’ simply for its breadth of participants, its publication of individual critic and director submissions makes it clear that the personal artistic canon is just as important as any amalgamate. The publication of the poll ushered in a wave of social media posts in which people outlined their own personal top ten, decried the lack of inclusion for their own personal favourites, and celebrated the wider championing of underseen works. The role of the canon, then, is not to create an unchanging, monolithic list of ‘great works’, but instead to encourage readers to do the same, to engage with art forms on their own terms and consider what they value and how it is reflected in their choices.

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
08/12/2022
Discussions
Adam Wells
What can the Sight and Sound poll tell us about the evolution of the artistic canon?

Arguably one of the most respected film polls of all time, Sight and Sound this week released their decennial list of the greatest films of all time, as voted for by 1,639 critics, programmers, curators, archivists and academics. In this latest iteration, previous winners Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) and Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) were usurped by Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), marking the first time a film directed by a woman has featured in the top 10, let alone in first place. With films from Claire Denis, Agnès Varda and Maya Deren appearing elsewhere in the top twenty and marking an influx of previously-overlooked films directed by women, the poll suggests a re-evaluation of the cinematic canon over the last decade, bringing to mind several questions; what even is the ‘canon’? Who decides what is included? Just how definitive can it be?

Previous winner Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)

The results of of the poll suggest an understanding of the canon as something continually changing and evolving rather than steadfastly fixed, as demonstrated by the addition of four films from the last five years (Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2016), Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, 2019), Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016) and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, 2019)), as well as Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) - the winner of the top spot in the inaugural 1952 poll - slipping down to 41st. Sight and Sound themselves have noted evolving cultural attitudes as a potential catalyst for change - notable for their absence in the latest poll are such controversial directors as Roman Polanski and D.W. Griffith - although the concerted efforts to diversify the voting pool begun in 2012 and continued this year may also account for the wider breadth of stories being told in the films selected; of the four films from the past decade mentioned previously, it is notable that both Moonlight and Portrait of a Lady on Fire are centered around queer romances.

The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000)

Meanwhile, the nature of the pool taking place once per decade allows greater opportunity for considered reflection of a film’s technical importance and contributions to the art form; Daziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera (1929), for instance, has long been a mainstay for its early formal experimentation, but the addition of the comparatively recent The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000) as what Sukhdev Sandhu describes as “The first great digital film” frames cinema as a still-evolving art form, suggesting that the ‘canon’ should be equally ever-changing.

Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943)

This is not to say that all of the new additions to the poll are recent developments; as a new generation of critics and cultural commentators are included each decade, older films still strike a chord, from the surrealist and anarchic feminism of Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943) and Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966) respectively to interrogations of class and race in Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970) and Black Girl (Ousmane Sembène, 1965). From this it becomes clear that changes to the canon don’t just come about from the addition of new works, but also from shifting cultural conversation and re-evaluation of existing works.

Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966)

The questions discussed here naturally extend beyond the film world and into the wider artistic community; just looking back over the past twelve months, high-profile galleries have been replete with exhibitions seeking to expand the canon; the Tate Modern’s Surrealism Beyond Borders, for instance, presented an alternative view of the movement beyond its typical pigeonholing in 1920s Paris, instead spotlighting the women, non-Western artists and later contributors to surrealism. Meanwhile, Hayward Gallery’s Strange Clay sought to canonise ceramics as a medium beyond the typical functionality usually associated with it, giving space for artists to demonstrate their use of clay as a means of artistic expression within a contemporary context. Indeed, the most celebrated art book of the year, Katy Hessel’s The Story of Art Without Men has been widely praised for its bold reimagining of the canon, a direct response to E. H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art, which in its original 1950 edition featured no female artists.

Detail from Bélial, Emperor of the Flies (Wifredo Lam, 1948), displayed as part of Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern

Considering all of this, it is worth remembering that the Sight and Sound poll - and indeed any collection of great artworks - does not claim to be any kind of definitive canon. While the site describes it as ‘a major bellwether of critical opinion on cinema’ simply for its breadth of participants, its publication of individual critic and director submissions makes it clear that the personal artistic canon is just as important as any amalgamate. The publication of the poll ushered in a wave of social media posts in which people outlined their own personal top ten, decried the lack of inclusion for their own personal favourites, and celebrated the wider championing of underseen works. The role of the canon, then, is not to create an unchanging, monolithic list of ‘great works’, but instead to encourage readers to do the same, to engage with art forms on their own terms and consider what they value and how it is reflected in their choices.

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
08/12/2022
Discussions
Adam Wells
What can the Sight and Sound poll tell us about the evolution of the artistic canon?
We take a look into how the recent poll represents the shift in cultural discussion...

Arguably one of the most respected film polls of all time, Sight and Sound this week released their decennial list of the greatest films of all time, as voted for by 1,639 critics, programmers, curators, archivists and academics. In this latest iteration, previous winners Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) and Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) were usurped by Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), marking the first time a film directed by a woman has featured in the top 10, let alone in first place. With films from Claire Denis, Agnès Varda and Maya Deren appearing elsewhere in the top twenty and marking an influx of previously-overlooked films directed by women, the poll suggests a re-evaluation of the cinematic canon over the last decade, bringing to mind several questions; what even is the ‘canon’? Who decides what is included? Just how definitive can it be?

Previous winner Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)

The results of of the poll suggest an understanding of the canon as something continually changing and evolving rather than steadfastly fixed, as demonstrated by the addition of four films from the last five years (Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2016), Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, 2019), Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016) and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, 2019)), as well as Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) - the winner of the top spot in the inaugural 1952 poll - slipping down to 41st. Sight and Sound themselves have noted evolving cultural attitudes as a potential catalyst for change - notable for their absence in the latest poll are such controversial directors as Roman Polanski and D.W. Griffith - although the concerted efforts to diversify the voting pool begun in 2012 and continued this year may also account for the wider breadth of stories being told in the films selected; of the four films from the past decade mentioned previously, it is notable that both Moonlight and Portrait of a Lady on Fire are centered around queer romances.

The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000)

Meanwhile, the nature of the pool taking place once per decade allows greater opportunity for considered reflection of a film’s technical importance and contributions to the art form; Daziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera (1929), for instance, has long been a mainstay for its early formal experimentation, but the addition of the comparatively recent The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000) as what Sukhdev Sandhu describes as “The first great digital film” frames cinema as a still-evolving art form, suggesting that the ‘canon’ should be equally ever-changing.

Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943)

This is not to say that all of the new additions to the poll are recent developments; as a new generation of critics and cultural commentators are included each decade, older films still strike a chord, from the surrealist and anarchic feminism of Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943) and Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966) respectively to interrogations of class and race in Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970) and Black Girl (Ousmane Sembène, 1965). From this it becomes clear that changes to the canon don’t just come about from the addition of new works, but also from shifting cultural conversation and re-evaluation of existing works.

Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966)

The questions discussed here naturally extend beyond the film world and into the wider artistic community; just looking back over the past twelve months, high-profile galleries have been replete with exhibitions seeking to expand the canon; the Tate Modern’s Surrealism Beyond Borders, for instance, presented an alternative view of the movement beyond its typical pigeonholing in 1920s Paris, instead spotlighting the women, non-Western artists and later contributors to surrealism. Meanwhile, Hayward Gallery’s Strange Clay sought to canonise ceramics as a medium beyond the typical functionality usually associated with it, giving space for artists to demonstrate their use of clay as a means of artistic expression within a contemporary context. Indeed, the most celebrated art book of the year, Katy Hessel’s The Story of Art Without Men has been widely praised for its bold reimagining of the canon, a direct response to E. H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art, which in its original 1950 edition featured no female artists.

Detail from Bélial, Emperor of the Flies (Wifredo Lam, 1948), displayed as part of Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern

Considering all of this, it is worth remembering that the Sight and Sound poll - and indeed any collection of great artworks - does not claim to be any kind of definitive canon. While the site describes it as ‘a major bellwether of critical opinion on cinema’ simply for its breadth of participants, its publication of individual critic and director submissions makes it clear that the personal artistic canon is just as important as any amalgamate. The publication of the poll ushered in a wave of social media posts in which people outlined their own personal top ten, decried the lack of inclusion for their own personal favourites, and celebrated the wider championing of underseen works. The role of the canon, then, is not to create an unchanging, monolithic list of ‘great works’, but instead to encourage readers to do the same, to engage with art forms on their own terms and consider what they value and how it is reflected in their choices.

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
08/12/2022
Discussions
Adam Wells
What can the Sight and Sound poll tell us about the evolution of the artistic canon?
We take a look into how the recent poll represents the shift in cultural discussion...

Arguably one of the most respected film polls of all time, Sight and Sound this week released their decennial list of the greatest films of all time, as voted for by 1,639 critics, programmers, curators, archivists and academics. In this latest iteration, previous winners Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) and Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) were usurped by Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), marking the first time a film directed by a woman has featured in the top 10, let alone in first place. With films from Claire Denis, Agnès Varda and Maya Deren appearing elsewhere in the top twenty and marking an influx of previously-overlooked films directed by women, the poll suggests a re-evaluation of the cinematic canon over the last decade, bringing to mind several questions; what even is the ‘canon’? Who decides what is included? Just how definitive can it be?

Previous winner Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)

The results of of the poll suggest an understanding of the canon as something continually changing and evolving rather than steadfastly fixed, as demonstrated by the addition of four films from the last five years (Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2016), Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, 2019), Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016) and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, 2019)), as well as Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) - the winner of the top spot in the inaugural 1952 poll - slipping down to 41st. Sight and Sound themselves have noted evolving cultural attitudes as a potential catalyst for change - notable for their absence in the latest poll are such controversial directors as Roman Polanski and D.W. Griffith - although the concerted efforts to diversify the voting pool begun in 2012 and continued this year may also account for the wider breadth of stories being told in the films selected; of the four films from the past decade mentioned previously, it is notable that both Moonlight and Portrait of a Lady on Fire are centered around queer romances.

The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000)

Meanwhile, the nature of the pool taking place once per decade allows greater opportunity for considered reflection of a film’s technical importance and contributions to the art form; Daziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera (1929), for instance, has long been a mainstay for its early formal experimentation, but the addition of the comparatively recent The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000) as what Sukhdev Sandhu describes as “The first great digital film” frames cinema as a still-evolving art form, suggesting that the ‘canon’ should be equally ever-changing.

Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943)

This is not to say that all of the new additions to the poll are recent developments; as a new generation of critics and cultural commentators are included each decade, older films still strike a chord, from the surrealist and anarchic feminism of Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943) and Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966) respectively to interrogations of class and race in Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970) and Black Girl (Ousmane Sembène, 1965). From this it becomes clear that changes to the canon don’t just come about from the addition of new works, but also from shifting cultural conversation and re-evaluation of existing works.

Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966)

The questions discussed here naturally extend beyond the film world and into the wider artistic community; just looking back over the past twelve months, high-profile galleries have been replete with exhibitions seeking to expand the canon; the Tate Modern’s Surrealism Beyond Borders, for instance, presented an alternative view of the movement beyond its typical pigeonholing in 1920s Paris, instead spotlighting the women, non-Western artists and later contributors to surrealism. Meanwhile, Hayward Gallery’s Strange Clay sought to canonise ceramics as a medium beyond the typical functionality usually associated with it, giving space for artists to demonstrate their use of clay as a means of artistic expression within a contemporary context. Indeed, the most celebrated art book of the year, Katy Hessel’s The Story of Art Without Men has been widely praised for its bold reimagining of the canon, a direct response to E. H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art, which in its original 1950 edition featured no female artists.

Detail from Bélial, Emperor of the Flies (Wifredo Lam, 1948), displayed as part of Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern

Considering all of this, it is worth remembering that the Sight and Sound poll - and indeed any collection of great artworks - does not claim to be any kind of definitive canon. While the site describes it as ‘a major bellwether of critical opinion on cinema’ simply for its breadth of participants, its publication of individual critic and director submissions makes it clear that the personal artistic canon is just as important as any amalgamate. The publication of the poll ushered in a wave of social media posts in which people outlined their own personal top ten, decried the lack of inclusion for their own personal favourites, and celebrated the wider championing of underseen works. The role of the canon, then, is not to create an unchanging, monolithic list of ‘great works’, but instead to encourage readers to do the same, to engage with art forms on their own terms and consider what they value and how it is reflected in their choices.

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
08/12/2022
Discussions
Adam Wells
What can the Sight and Sound poll tell us about the evolution of the artistic canon?
We take a look into how the recent poll represents the shift in cultural discussion...

Arguably one of the most respected film polls of all time, Sight and Sound this week released their decennial list of the greatest films of all time, as voted for by 1,639 critics, programmers, curators, archivists and academics. In this latest iteration, previous winners Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) and Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) were usurped by Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), marking the first time a film directed by a woman has featured in the top 10, let alone in first place. With films from Claire Denis, Agnès Varda and Maya Deren appearing elsewhere in the top twenty and marking an influx of previously-overlooked films directed by women, the poll suggests a re-evaluation of the cinematic canon over the last decade, bringing to mind several questions; what even is the ‘canon’? Who decides what is included? Just how definitive can it be?

Previous winner Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)

The results of of the poll suggest an understanding of the canon as something continually changing and evolving rather than steadfastly fixed, as demonstrated by the addition of four films from the last five years (Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2016), Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, 2019), Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016) and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, 2019)), as well as Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) - the winner of the top spot in the inaugural 1952 poll - slipping down to 41st. Sight and Sound themselves have noted evolving cultural attitudes as a potential catalyst for change - notable for their absence in the latest poll are such controversial directors as Roman Polanski and D.W. Griffith - although the concerted efforts to diversify the voting pool begun in 2012 and continued this year may also account for the wider breadth of stories being told in the films selected; of the four films from the past decade mentioned previously, it is notable that both Moonlight and Portrait of a Lady on Fire are centered around queer romances.

The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000)

Meanwhile, the nature of the pool taking place once per decade allows greater opportunity for considered reflection of a film’s technical importance and contributions to the art form; Daziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera (1929), for instance, has long been a mainstay for its early formal experimentation, but the addition of the comparatively recent The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000) as what Sukhdev Sandhu describes as “The first great digital film” frames cinema as a still-evolving art form, suggesting that the ‘canon’ should be equally ever-changing.

Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943)

This is not to say that all of the new additions to the poll are recent developments; as a new generation of critics and cultural commentators are included each decade, older films still strike a chord, from the surrealist and anarchic feminism of Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943) and Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966) respectively to interrogations of class and race in Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970) and Black Girl (Ousmane Sembène, 1965). From this it becomes clear that changes to the canon don’t just come about from the addition of new works, but also from shifting cultural conversation and re-evaluation of existing works.

Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966)

The questions discussed here naturally extend beyond the film world and into the wider artistic community; just looking back over the past twelve months, high-profile galleries have been replete with exhibitions seeking to expand the canon; the Tate Modern’s Surrealism Beyond Borders, for instance, presented an alternative view of the movement beyond its typical pigeonholing in 1920s Paris, instead spotlighting the women, non-Western artists and later contributors to surrealism. Meanwhile, Hayward Gallery’s Strange Clay sought to canonise ceramics as a medium beyond the typical functionality usually associated with it, giving space for artists to demonstrate their use of clay as a means of artistic expression within a contemporary context. Indeed, the most celebrated art book of the year, Katy Hessel’s The Story of Art Without Men has been widely praised for its bold reimagining of the canon, a direct response to E. H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art, which in its original 1950 edition featured no female artists.

Detail from Bélial, Emperor of the Flies (Wifredo Lam, 1948), displayed as part of Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern

Considering all of this, it is worth remembering that the Sight and Sound poll - and indeed any collection of great artworks - does not claim to be any kind of definitive canon. While the site describes it as ‘a major bellwether of critical opinion on cinema’ simply for its breadth of participants, its publication of individual critic and director submissions makes it clear that the personal artistic canon is just as important as any amalgamate. The publication of the poll ushered in a wave of social media posts in which people outlined their own personal top ten, decried the lack of inclusion for their own personal favourites, and celebrated the wider championing of underseen works. The role of the canon, then, is not to create an unchanging, monolithic list of ‘great works’, but instead to encourage readers to do the same, to engage with art forms on their own terms and consider what they value and how it is reflected in their choices.

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
08/12/2022
Discussions
Adam Wells
What can the Sight and Sound poll tell us about the evolution of the artistic canon?
We take a look into how the recent poll represents the shift in cultural discussion...

Arguably one of the most respected film polls of all time, Sight and Sound this week released their decennial list of the greatest films of all time, as voted for by 1,639 critics, programmers, curators, archivists and academics. In this latest iteration, previous winners Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) and Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) were usurped by Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), marking the first time a film directed by a woman has featured in the top 10, let alone in first place. With films from Claire Denis, Agnès Varda and Maya Deren appearing elsewhere in the top twenty and marking an influx of previously-overlooked films directed by women, the poll suggests a re-evaluation of the cinematic canon over the last decade, bringing to mind several questions; what even is the ‘canon’? Who decides what is included? Just how definitive can it be?

Previous winner Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948)

The results of of the poll suggest an understanding of the canon as something continually changing and evolving rather than steadfastly fixed, as demonstrated by the addition of four films from the last five years (Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2016), Parasite (Bong Joon-ho, 2019), Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016) and Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, 2019)), as well as Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) - the winner of the top spot in the inaugural 1952 poll - slipping down to 41st. Sight and Sound themselves have noted evolving cultural attitudes as a potential catalyst for change - notable for their absence in the latest poll are such controversial directors as Roman Polanski and D.W. Griffith - although the concerted efforts to diversify the voting pool begun in 2012 and continued this year may also account for the wider breadth of stories being told in the films selected; of the four films from the past decade mentioned previously, it is notable that both Moonlight and Portrait of a Lady on Fire are centered around queer romances.

The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000)

Meanwhile, the nature of the pool taking place once per decade allows greater opportunity for considered reflection of a film’s technical importance and contributions to the art form; Daziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera (1929), for instance, has long been a mainstay for its early formal experimentation, but the addition of the comparatively recent The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000) as what Sukhdev Sandhu describes as “The first great digital film” frames cinema as a still-evolving art form, suggesting that the ‘canon’ should be equally ever-changing.

Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943)

This is not to say that all of the new additions to the poll are recent developments; as a new generation of critics and cultural commentators are included each decade, older films still strike a chord, from the surrealist and anarchic feminism of Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943) and Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966) respectively to interrogations of class and race in Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970) and Black Girl (Ousmane Sembène, 1965). From this it becomes clear that changes to the canon don’t just come about from the addition of new works, but also from shifting cultural conversation and re-evaluation of existing works.

Daisies (Věra Chytilová, 1966)

The questions discussed here naturally extend beyond the film world and into the wider artistic community; just looking back over the past twelve months, high-profile galleries have been replete with exhibitions seeking to expand the canon; the Tate Modern’s Surrealism Beyond Borders, for instance, presented an alternative view of the movement beyond its typical pigeonholing in 1920s Paris, instead spotlighting the women, non-Western artists and later contributors to surrealism. Meanwhile, Hayward Gallery’s Strange Clay sought to canonise ceramics as a medium beyond the typical functionality usually associated with it, giving space for artists to demonstrate their use of clay as a means of artistic expression within a contemporary context. Indeed, the most celebrated art book of the year, Katy Hessel’s The Story of Art Without Men has been widely praised for its bold reimagining of the canon, a direct response to E. H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art, which in its original 1950 edition featured no female artists.

Detail from Bélial, Emperor of the Flies (Wifredo Lam, 1948), displayed as part of Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern

Considering all of this, it is worth remembering that the Sight and Sound poll - and indeed any collection of great artworks - does not claim to be any kind of definitive canon. While the site describes it as ‘a major bellwether of critical opinion on cinema’ simply for its breadth of participants, its publication of individual critic and director submissions makes it clear that the personal artistic canon is just as important as any amalgamate. The publication of the poll ushered in a wave of social media posts in which people outlined their own personal top ten, decried the lack of inclusion for their own personal favourites, and celebrated the wider championing of underseen works. The role of the canon, then, is not to create an unchanging, monolithic list of ‘great works’, but instead to encourage readers to do the same, to engage with art forms on their own terms and consider what they value and how it is reflected in their choices.

Thanks for reading
Collect your 5 yamos below
REDEEM YAMOS
Thanks For Reading
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.