James Sanders’ “Celluloid Skyline” Takes Over Grand Central Station


It’s always a treat when we get a message in from someone doing something really incredible and get to peek behind the scenes at the process of putting it together. Today we heard from artist/author, James Sanders, who is working on assembling gigantic screens in NY’s Grand Central Station as part of a project/exhibit, to help celebrate both his book and New York films. Here’s the whole story from James:

Basically, after many years of dreaming, I am finally mounting a big public exhibit based on my book, “Celluloid Skyline: New York and the Movies,” thanks to the good folks at Turner Classic Movies and Time Warner Cable. The show, also called “Celluloid Skyline,” will occupy Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central from May 25 to June 22, during which time it will be open to the public free of charge, seven days a week, from 10am to 7pm. TCM will be airing an associated “New York and the Movies” film festival for the month of June on their network.

In an actual space and at incredible scale, the mythic “New York of the movies,” I tried to evoke in words and pictures in my book. Though we call it an “exhibit,” it is actually more of a vast multimedia installation that will attempt to whisk visitors off into a kind of cinematic city, created through a series of amazing images and artifacts.

There will be large-scale rear projections of extraordinary images from never-before-seen “process” footage from Hollywood, and there will be four actual “scenic backing” paintings from the studio era of the 1940s and 50s, recreating views of New York. These are truly gigantic things, literally three stories tall, showing (among other things) the U.N. interior from North by Northwest — the actual painting Cary Grant ran in front of — and a huge piece of old Pennsylvania Station (from Vincente Minnelli’s 1945 movie The Clock). These have been in storage for decades at the old MGM studios in Culver City, and have never been seen before in public — and will probably never be seen again.

As in the book, these extraordinary filmmaking elements will support a core of urbanistic and architectural themes: display panels in the center of the room will explore different elements of the city — streets, interiors, rooftops, the waterfront, skyscrapers, urban renewal, preservation etc. — through more than 200 images culled from my book and elsewhere.