• film

Independent Frames: American Experimental Animation in the 1970s and 1980s


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Friday 1/19
7:00 pm
$10 General Public
$8 Students & Seniors
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From morphing bodies engaged in rapturous copulation (Desire Pie) to disembodied parts (The Club, Seed Reel), artists respond to the waning sexual revolution and the women’s movement, expressing agency and stimulation while at the same time depicting complex forms of desire. With the remove from photorealism affording artists the freedom to craft shocking imagery, films like Flesh Flows and Asparagus depict impossible anatomy and unusual couplings, opening the possibilities of sex as allegorical representation of creation, regeneration and the transferal of energy.

Whitney Commercial

Suzan Pitt, 1973, 16mm, 3 min.
Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive

Pesca Pisca

Irene Duga, 1968, 16mm, 3 min.

Bust Bag

Don Duga, 1964, 16mm, 6 min.

Tub Film

Mary Beams, 1972, digital, 2 min.

Seed Reel

Mary Beams, 1975, 16mm, 4 min.

The Club

George Griffin, 1975, digital, 4 min.


Maureen Selwood, 1980, digital, 12 min.

Desire Pie        

Lisa Crafts, 1976, 16mm, 5 min.


Suzan Pitt, 1971, 16mm, 7 min.

Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive

Flesh Flows

Adam Beckett, 1974, 16mm, 6 min.


Suzan Pitt, 1979, 35mm, 20 min
Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive

Independent Frames is supported by the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation and the Cinema Studies Department at the University of Pennsylvania

Independent Frames: American Experimental Animation in the 1970s + 1980s


This series examines the work of a group of American artists who approached film through independently-produced, frame-by-frame animations in the 1970s and 80s. Made primarily by artists with no formal animation training, the selection of films in this programme incorporates autobiography, visual fantasy, abstraction, medium specificity and biting satire. Several works were broadcast at the time and others distributed on home video, affording these artists a level of success and reach beyond that which other artist-filmmakers of their era could attain. Building on the work of earlier generations of experimental animators such as Mary Ellen Bute, Standish Lawder, Harry Smith and Stan Vanderbeek – some of whose works are included in these screenings – this new generation of filmmakers elaborated on inherited techniques and proceeded to pioneer their own. Some artists explored cel and hand-drawn animation (Sally Cruikshank, Suzan Pitt, Mary Beams) while others explored new directions in kinetic collage (Frank Mouris, Paul Glabicki). Some used flicker and abstraction (Robert Russett, Adam Beckett, Barry Spinello) and others explored the affective potential of film through psychedelic fantasy (Sky David, Lisa Crafts). Through five screening programmes, Independent Frames: American Experimental Animation in the 1970s + 1980s highlights themes of the body and sexuality, abstraction and psychedelia, structure and composition, autobiographical reflection and the influence of commercial animation. Lending historical context to recent developments in both animation studies and the role of animation in contemporary art, the series is a timely investigation of this era of invention and energy in experimental animation, suggesting a landscape of artists whose work needs to be considered anew.

Independent Frames is curated by Herb Shellenberger.