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

Underground Cartoons

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Saturday 1/20
8:00 pm
$10 General Public
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Artist-animators working within, outside of and in response to the commercial cartoon industry found a variety of different types of expression, creating humorous, strange, philosophical or just plainly crude works as an extension of a larger counterculture.


Post-screening discussion with James Duesing.

Total running time approx. 78 mins.

Academy Leader Variations

Various artists, 1987, 16mm, 6 min, color, sound


New Fangled

George Griffin, 1990, digital, 2 min, color, sound


Bambi Meets Godzilla,

Marv Newland, 1969, 16mm, 1 min, color, sound



Standish Lawder, 1969, 16 mm, 6 min, color, sound


Make Me Psychic

Sally Cruikshank, 1978, 35mm, 8 min, color, sound


Filet of Soul

Victor Faccinto, 1972, 16mm, 16 min, color, sound


Curious Alice

United States Information Agency, 1971, digital, 13 min, color, sound


Tugging the Worm

James Duesing, 1987, 16mm, 9 min, color, sound


Puttin’ on the Fur

George Griffin, 1981/2016, digital, 7 min, color, sound


Quasi at the Quackadero

Sally Cruikshank, 1975, 35mm, 10 min, color, sound


James Duesing is an animator and professor at Carnegie Mellon School of Art. After making his early hand-drawn films Imepetigo (1983) and Tugging the Worm (1987), Duesing subsequently has explored a digital animation practice, from now-primitive technologies of early 1990s desktop computers to 3D and motion capture projects. He has explored animation individually and collaboratively in film and digital forms along with its integration into installation, web eBook and print. Often creating narratives that involve dark and complicated interactions between quasi-human characters, Duesing’s work is not simply repulsive, but contains an alluring and engrossing charm. 

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.