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American Cinema 1940 -1950

7pm: The American Avant-Garde, 1940-1950

Since several Dadaists, including Marcel Duchamp, immigrated to the USA, the production of small experimental films has continued in the United States.
The appearance on the West Coast intellectual scene of Maya Deren and several of her contemporaries would lead to the emergence of a new school of cinematography.
Classed by some historians as "American Surrealists", these filmmakers considered themselves more in the tradition of Cocteau than of Breton – their films more experimental than avant-garde.

The Pursuit of Happiness by Rudy Burckhardt (1940)
Duration: 8'34

Moods of the sea by John Hofmann et Slavko Vorkapich (1940-1942)
Duration: 9’56

Sredni Vashtar by Saki by David Bradley (1940-1943)
Duration: 11’02

Meshes of the Afternoon by Maya Deren (1943)
Duration: 14’27

In the street by Helen levitt, James Agee et Janice Loeb (1952)
Duration: 17’09


Maya Deren, Meshes of the Afternoon


8.15: Abstract Art in American Cinema of the 1940s

In contrast to pictorial abstraction, abstract cinema has never emerged as a genre in its own right. In the U.S.A., from the 40s and 50s, film abstraction developed in a radical way, influenced by the German precursors (Fishinger, Eggeling). But it is difficult to classify abstract cinema, often assimilated to experimental cinema or animated cinema.
Strong and unknown experiences that still resonate in contemporary creation.

Tarentella by Mary de Ellen Bute and Ted Nemeth (1940)
Duration: 4’23

1941 by Francis Lee (1941)
Duration: 4’09

Abstronic by Mary Ellen Bute and Ted Nemeth (1952)
Duration: 5’36

Bells of Atlantis by Ian Ugo, Anaïs Nin and Len Lye (1952-1953)
Duration: 9’13

Gyromorphosis by Hy Hirsch (1954)
Duration: 7’00

Evolution by Jim Davis (1954-1957)
Duration: 8’30

Hurry! Hurry! by Marie Menken (1957)
Duration: 4’51

N.Y., N.Y. by Francis Thomson (1958)
Duration: 15’25


Jim Davis, Evolution