The exhibition is organized mainly by movie and contains enough material to satisfy the most obsessive Kubrick-phile.

A random sampling: a call sheet for the filming of "Paths of Glory"; a letter from a church minister decrying the "degenerate" nature of "Lolita"; props from "A Clockwork Orange"; an elaborate card catalog containing research for his abandoned biopic "Napoleon"; an ax from "The Shining"; a treatment for his abandoned Holocaust movie, "The Aryan Papers"; the orgy masks from "Eyes Wide Shut."

LACMA hired film and TV production designer Patti Podesta to design the exhibition. "Kubrick's work is defined by the fact that each film is very different from the others," she said, adding that she designed the show with the intention of intensifying isolated moments from his movies.

Throughout the display, the museum has placed works of art that have close thematic ties to Kubrick's movies. The "2001: A Space Odyssey" section features a John McCracken plank that closely resembles the rectangular monoliths in the movie. (Despite popular belief, the late artist did not work on "2001.")

A Cold War-themed screen print by Robert Rauschenberg, "Stoned Moon Series: Sky Garden," is juxtaposed with items from "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."

"I think the exhibition shows that artists do not work in a bubble. Filmmakers are looking at visual artists, and artists are looking at filmmakers," said Jarrett Gregory, a curator at LACMA who is overseeing the show.

Kubrick's perfectionism is the stuff of movie legend -- the obsession with technology, the numerous takes, the absolute control over all aspects of a movie. "Stanley was such an incredible perfectionist that he believed every frame of film should be sharp," said Douglas Trumbull, the visual effects artist who worked on "2001."

Many of those who knew Kubrick recalled a warmer, less intimidating man away from the set.

Matthew Modine, who played Pvt. Joker in "Full Metal Jacket," said Kubrick welcomed him into his home to watch films. "He wasn't more than a man who loved making movies, loved his family, his pets, and his friends. Kind of in that order," said the actor via e-mail. (Some of Modine's photographs from the "Full Metal Jacket" shoot are featured in the exhibition.)

"We watched movies one reel at a time and would discuss the film, digest them, while we spooled up the next reel," Modine said. "His theater wasn't fancy. Some old sofas, easy chairs, and his dogs farted a lot (he said it was the dogs...)." 

Keir Dullea, who played astronaut David Bowman in "2001," said he never found Kubrick to be cold. "Yes, he was a perfectionist," the actor said by phone from Minneapolis, where he was working at the Guthrie Theater. "He was very quiet and he never raised his voice. He had a quiet sense of humor."

Semel, who has donated some of his personal photographs of Kubrick to the show, recalled that he developed a routine to accommodate the director's dislike of flying.

"He would call and say, 'I'm ready for you to come to London,'" said Semel, who ran Warner Bros. for more than 20 years with Robert Daly.

"It would usually be a day or two later that I arrived. It was usually the same hotel room. Stanley would call to make sure I was going to sleep early. Jan would show up early the next day and give me the script to read. I would read it and make notes, and then call Stanley to say I'm ready. And then we would spend as much time as it took at his house."

Those who knew Kubrick say that despite the cold nature of his movies, there was also a strain of wit throughout his body of work.

The exhibition features a quote from Kubrick -- the quote is in the show's main video montage -- that encapsulates that duality: "A satirist is someone who has a very skeptical view of human nature, but who still has the optimism to make some sort of a joke out of it. However brutal that joke might be."

david.ng@latimes.com

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