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Dreamy Colors from the Earliest Years of Cinema

Dreaming in Color: The Davide Turconi Collection of Early Cinema is currently on display at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY. The images in the exhibitoin are chosen from a collection of more than 23,000 original nitrate frames of 35mm films from the early years of cinema (1897 – 1915). The frames were gathered by Italian film historian Davide Turconi in the 1960s from a collection of films acquired by Jesuit priest Josef-Alexis Joye (1852 – 1919).

In the early 1900s, Joye began to collect films and incorporate them into his lectures at the Borromäum, an educational institution in Basel, Switzerland. When Joye left Basel in 1911, the films remained at the Borromäum until the 1950s and were then moved to Zurich, where Turconi rediscovered them. The films were in various stages of decay. Fearing that eventually no trace would remain of them, Turconi clipped 2 to 3 frames from each, thus preserving a documentation of early 20th century color techniques.

“It is extremely difficult to exhibit and preserve early color film images accurately, which is what makes the Turconi collection so unique,” says Joshua Yumibe, exhibition curator. “Because of the way Turconi made and stored his clippings, the images have maintained most of their original color.”

Approximately 600 frames from the collection are digitally reproduced in Dreaming in Color.

The George Eastman Museum acquired the Turconi collection in the 1990s. After twelve years of a massive digitization undertaking, many more images can now be found online at the Davide Turconi Project.

Dreaming in Color: The Davide Turconi Collection of Early Cinema
curated by Joshua Yumibe
George Eastman Museum
January 13 – June 24, 2018

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