Ricciotto Canudo (1879 – 1923) was an early Italian film theoretician who lived primarily in France. He saw cinema as “plastic art in motion”. He gave cinema the label “the Seventh Art”, which is still current in French.

In his manifesto The Birth of the Sixth Art, published in 1911, he argued that cinema was a new art, “a superb conciliation of the Rhythms of Space (the Plastic Arts) and the Rhythms of Time (Music and Poetry)”, a synthesis of the five ancient arts: architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and poetry (cf. Hegel’s Lectures on Aesthetics).

Canudo later added dance as a sixth precursor, a third rhythmic art with music and poetry, making cinema the seventh art.[1] In Paris he established an avant-garde magazine Le Gazette de sept arts in 1920, and a film club, CASA (Club des amis du septieme art), in 1921.[2] His best-known essay Reflections on the Seventh Art was published in 1923 after a number of earlier drafts, all published in Italy or France.

It has been documented that Canudo sympathised with the early Nazi Party, although to what extent is debatable.