Marie Menken

Marie
Menken

“There is no why for my making films. I just liked the twitters of the machine, and since it was an extension of painting for me, I tried it and loved it. In painting I never liked the staid and static, always looked for what would change the source of light and stance, using glitters, glass beads, luminous paint, so the camera was a natural for me to try but how expensive!”

Marie Menken (1910-1970) is the unsung heroine of the American avant-garde cinema. A mentor, muse and major influence for such key experimental filmmakers as Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas and Andy Warhol, Menken created an extraordinary body of exuberant and stunningly beautiful films shaped, above all, by her intuitive understanding of handheld cinematography.

Films

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    Visual Variations On Noguchi
    Experimental

    Visual Variations On Noguchi

    Marie Menken

    16mm, black and white, sound, 4 min
    Rental format: 16mm
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    Glimpse of the Garden
    Experimental

    Glimpse of the Garden

    Marie Menken

    16mm, color, sound, 5 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • Environment / Nature
    • Landscape / Architecture
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    Hurry! Hurry!
    Experimental

    Hurry! Hurry!

    Marie Menken

    16mm, color, sound, 3 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • Dance
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    Dwightiana
    Experimental

    Dwightiana

    Marie Menken

    16mm, color, sound, 3.5 min
    Rental format: 16mm
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    Arabesque for Kenneth Anger
    Experimental

    Arabesque for Kenneth Anger

    Marie Menken

    16mm, color, sound, 4 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • Landscape / Architecture
    • Arts / Artists
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    Bagatelle for Willard Maas
    Experimental

    Bagatelle for Willard Maas

    Marie Menken

    16mm, color, sound, 5 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • Arts / Artists
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    Eye Music in Red Major
    Experimental

    Eye Music in Red Major

    Marie Menken

    16mm, color, silent, 5.5 min
    Rental format: 16mm
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    Drips In Strips
    Experimental

    Drips In Strips

    Marie Menken

    16mm, color, silent, 2.5 min
    Rental format: 16mm
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    Notebook
    Experimental

    Notebook

    Marie Menken

    16mm, color and b/w, silent, 10 min
    Rental format: 16mm
    • Personal / Diary / Journal

Biography

Marie Menken (1910-1970) is the unsung heroine of the American avant-garde cinema. A mentor, muse and major influence for such key experimental filmmakers as Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas and Andy Warhol, Menken created an extraordinary body of exuberant and stunningly beautiful films shaped, above all, by her intuitive understanding of handheld cinematography. Beginning with her celebrated first film, Visual Variations on Noguchi (1945), Menken used the hand-cranked Bolex camerafavored by avant-garde filmmakers to introduce a new agility, grace and spontaneity into experimental cinema, a lightness of camera and form hitherto unseen in American film. With Noguchi, Menken also began a spirited dialogue between cinema and the plastic and painterly arts that extends across her films in a witty yet deeply insightful exploration of the formal language and methodology specific to those schools and painters with whom Menken was close – from the Abstract Expressionist drip painting humorously critiqued in Drips in Strips (1963), to the factory production of Pop art in the revelatory Andy Warhol (1964) and the Fluxus practice of Robert Watts in Watts with Eggs (1967).

The longtime creative and marital partner of poet-filmmaker Willard Maas, Menken began as an accomplished painter whose eccentrically textured and effulgent canvases incorporate all manner of reflective media – phosphorescent paint, crushed glass, sequins – in a playful challenge to the traditional boundaries of the painted canvas. Light remained a major focus of Menken's films, most notably in major works such as Notebook (1940-62) and Lights (1964-66) which transform her Bolex into an instrument for painting marvelous sculptural forms from neon and city lights. Like the painters-turned-filmmakers Robert Breer and Carmen D'Avino, Menken (who animated the chess sequence in Maya Deren's At Land) embraced various animation techniques – collage, stop-motion cinematography – as a direct extension of her painting. Yet for Menken, animation also became a way of radically transforming the world around her, reimagining postwar New York City, for example, in her masterpiece of single frame cinematography Go! Go! Go! (1962-64), a work that condenses two years of patient documentary filmmaking into a delirious and exhilarating vision of a hyperactive city.