Alchemical Dreams: The Short Films of Harry Smith
"The hand-painted films with which [Smith] began his career are the most remarkable ever achieved in that technique; and his subsequent stature as one of the central filmmakers of the avant-garde tradition.” films, both animated and photographed from actuality, sustain his." P. Adams Sitney
“You shouldn't be looking at this as a continuity. Film frames are hieroglyphs, even when they look like actuality. You should think of the individual frame, always, as a glyph, and then you'll understand what cinema is about.” – Harry Smith
Harry Smith (1923–91) was a unique visionary whose art and interests moved freely between music (most notably, with the seminal Anthology of American Folk Music), film, painting and the occult. Smith’s ground-breaking experimental films are rarely shown, and this screening includes several of his hand-painted Early Abstractions (1941–57, assembled ca. 1964, 23 mins., b/w and color, 16mm)), featuring live musical accompaniment; Film No. 17: Mirror Animations (Extended Version) (1979, 11 min., 16mm), collage-animation laden with Smith’s symbology and mythic imagination; Film No. 14: Late Superimpositions (1964, 28 min., 16mm), a quasi-autobiographical account of Anadarko, Oklahoma; Film No. 15 (1965–66, 10 min., silent, 16mm), Smith’s animation of Seminole patchwork; and Film No. 16: Oz, The Tin Woodman’s Dream (1967, 15 min., silent, 35mm CinemaScope).Curated by Rani Singh, director of the Harry Smith Archives and senior research associate at the Getty Research Institute. This program concludes a three-part survey of Smith’s work that features screenings at Los Angeles Filmforum, on Nov 4, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, on Nov 10. See lafilmforum.org and lacma.org for more information.