A new gallery installation at D. Thomas Fine Miniatures in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY features Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window in Miniature, a special work created in 1/12th scale by professor of anthropology and artist, Louise Krasniewicz.
Louise writes extensively about miniatures and discusses why miniatures are so prevalent in modern culture. In her work she suggests that, when carefully constructed and scaled, miniatures are like stage or movie sets that invite the viewer to visit an alternative place and experience a different world. Her works portray miniatures as imaginative productions, true marvels and wonders of art.
Krasniewicz created this intricate miniature setting, a replica of the main movie set from Hitchcock’s 1954 classic film, for inclusion in ‘Celebrating the Movies,’ part of the miniature settings category displayed at the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show earlier this year. Her creation achieved first place and best of show.
When Alfred Hitchcock planned the set for Rear Window, he made the windows that looked into the Greenwich Village apartments appear to be miniature movie screens, showing the drama within each cramped space. The love stories played out in the windows of the abstractly named characters—Miss Torso, Miss Lonelyhearts, the Songwriter, The Newlyweds—who depicted a possible version of the life of Jeff Jeffries, the wheelchair-bound photographer, watching his neighbors. When Jeffries suspects one of his neighbors of murder, the parallel stories framed in the apartment windows all contribute to the mystery.
‘Cramming all of that, along with the details of the apartment of the murderer Lars Thorwald, into a scale-model replica of the Rear Window set was the challenge,’ says Ms. Krasniewicz. ‘It demonstrates numerous scratch building, painting, design, lighting, and construction techniques as well as providing the perfect demonstration of the notion of ‘world-building’ that is defining the newest approaches to miniatures.’ Louise believes that when seeing miniatures as built worlds rather than just play things ‘we have the possibility of entering that world and experiencing its wonders.’
By viewing a scaled replica of an enormous Hollywood stage set, the viewer can take in evidence from all the scenes at the same time and enjoy the connections between the stories played out in the windows.
Louise Krasniewicz, PhD, is an adjunct in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania where she teaches courses on anthropology, popular culture, and film. She is also affiliated with the Cinema Studies Program and is a fellow at the Penn Cultural Heritage Center. Her academic training in media studies and anthropology make her an expert on pop and geek culture phenomena and the theoretical frontiers of digital media.
Krasniewicz is the author of numerous books including biographies of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Johnny Depp, and Walt Disney, and a study of the California recall election. Krasniewicz’s passion for miniatures includes the study of ancient miniatures across time and culture, miniatures in film, and miniatures at World’s Fairs. Krasniewicz’s insights may be found in her blog The Wonder of Miniature Worlds…past & present, in theory and practice.
Hitchcock’s Rear Window was released by Paramount Pictures on September 1, 1954 and relates the story of fictional photographer L.B. ‘Jeff’ Jeffries (played by James Stewart) who passes time by watching the private lives of his neighbors through their open windows when confined to wheelchair in his Greenwich Village apartment while recuperating from an accident during a summer heat wave. The film explores man’s fascination with voyeurism and the attraction of being watched and observed. Rear Window received four Academy Award nominations and in 1997 the film was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as being culturally, historically and aesthetically significant.
D. Thomas Fine Miniatures is a retail and gallery destination featuring fine-scale collectibles. The shop also offers workshops and classes taught by master artisans on making miniatures. It’s located in the historical lower Hudson River Valley in the Moviehouse Mews, once The Hastings Theater (opened in 1920) and attended by local resident Billie Burke – who played Glinda, the Good Witch, in the 1939 classic, The Wizard of Oz and Flo Ziegfeld, of the Ziegfeld Follies.
Gallery and shop hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from noon to 5:00 PM. Evening hours are available by appointment.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window in Miniature will be on display in the Gallery at D. Thomas Fine Miniatures until November 25, 2015.