German artist Philipp Humm announces The Last Faust, starring legendary British actor Steven Berkoff. Co-written and produced by Humm, the film marks the artist’s directorial debut. The film is a re-telling of Faust, the classic German legend that has inspired artists, musicians and writers for more than half a century, including Goethe’s two-part epic which has become known as one of the greatest works ever written.
Image: The Bet with God and Mephisto
German artist Philipp Humm announces The Last Faust, starring legendary British actor Steven Berkoff. Co-written and produced by Humm, the film marks the artist’s directorial debut.
The film is a re-telling of Faust, the classic German legend that has inspired artists, musicians and writers for more than half a century, including Goethe’s two-part epic which has become known as one of the greatest works ever written.
Portrait of Philipp Humm, photograph by Mah Parnell
The Last Faust is the first film ever to adapt Goethe’s theatre play in the entirety – fusing parts one and two – and is based on Martin Greenberg’s masterful translation. The music is based on Richard Wagner’s piano compositions, intermitted by dance scenes on Yello tunes.
An accomplished artist with a string of critically acclaimed exhibitions in the US, Italy, Germany, and UK, including solo exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery, Riflemaker and Hix Galleries, the feature-length film is just one aspect of a monumental project by Humm devoted to the subject of The Last Faust. In a process he describes as Gesamtkunstwerk – or total work of art – Humm has also created an illustrated book as well as 150 artworks of drawings, paintings, photographs and bronze sculptures.Humm’s masterful, colour-saturated world of history, mythology, literature and art is not just a ‘total work of art’ but a vivid and surreal imagining of a world just beyond our horizon.
The Bet with God and Mephisto
Humm’s Faust (Martin Hancock) is a protagonist for the digital epoch. Seeking infinite knowledge andgod-like power, Faust has made a pact with the devil in the guise of Mephisto (Glyn Dilly) to give him infinite access to technological progress. Mephisto distracts Faust by making him lust for the young Gretchen, a love story ending tragically. Mephisto then helps him in find sublime love with Helena of Troyes. After Faust’s death, his successor Dr Goodfellow picks up the bet with the devil. This will allow him to build a powerful digital neural AI-network. Yet one day, the network decides it does not need anymore its creators.
Humm takes us through the decline of humanity, brought to the brink by greed, untrammelled ambition and desire – as narrated by Faust’s successor, Dr Goodfellow (Berkoff), CEO of the world’sbiggest tech company Winestone. Through the final testament of Goodfellow, we witness the dying hours of humanity before it is extinguished by the technology Faust has unleashed upon the world.
For Humm, Faust provides a dazzling and uniquely rich canvas on which to explore our contemporary obsession with youth, sex and love, as well as infinite scope for the complexity of his rich artistic visionto run with. Of Goethe’s Faust he comments:
It’s the most important piece of literature in German culture. It is relevant to our society because the pact with the devil is something we are constantly pursuing,.... Goethe’s story is quite bonkers, complex and multi-layered, so it is an amazing source for inspiration and creativity.
Creating a feature artfilm is a very unique undertaking. With cinematic wide angle takes, strong art visuals, dance and an almost operatic theatricality, The Last Faust is darkly poetic tightrope of contradictions; at once expansive and claustrophobic, painterly - but with a muscular narrative, tragic - whilst catching us off guard with moments of comedy. The Last Faust is Humm’s bold vision of amoving work of art, created to make accessible one of the great eternal stories to new audiences.
Whilst the influences for Humm are many and varied, ranging from German Expressionism to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the initial inspiration came from seeing an exhibition of Salvador Dali’s work illustrating key scenes from Dante’s Inferno. Humm says ‘I thought I could do for Goethe what Dali does for Dante’.
Philipp Humm, Trojan Horse, (2019) oil on canvas 92x61cm
Humm has also created a surreal canvas on which to explore our tortuous relationship with technology: a world with which he is intimately acquainted having previously been CEO for major techcompanies, including Vodafone and Amazon. He says, ‘The story of Faust has more significance todaythan possibly any other time in history. Our voracious thirst for technology means we’re sleepwalkinginto a dystopian future where artificial intelligence, unfettered by human concepts of empathy,reshapes the planet in its image. The fact that we’re complicit in our demise makes this tragedy all themore apposite. Before the Devil steals your soul, he’ll first steal your password.’
ArtDependence Magazine is an international magazine covering all spheres of contemporary art, as well as modern and classical art.
ArtDependence features the latest art news, highlighting interviews with today’s most influential artists, galleries, curators, collectors, fair directors and individuals at the axis of the arts.
The magazine also covers series of articles and reviews on critical art events, new publications and other foremost happenings in the art world.
If you would like to submit events or editorial content to ArtDependence Magazine, please feel free to reach the magazine via the contact page.