• film

Subversive Elements

Harry Smith: New Restorations

Presented by John Klacsmann & Andrew Lampert

An unparalleled animator, gifted painter, and notable musicologist, Harry Smith (1923–1991) was an underground renaissance figure bar none. Smith’s kaleidoscopic experimental films have influenced generations of wide-eyed enthusiasts, and his landmark six LP compilation The Anthology of American Folk Music (1952) laid the foundation for the folk music revival of the late ‘50s and ‘60s. Today, Smith is renowned not only for his dazzlingly ecstatic and eccentric works but also for the vast assortments of curious objects that he voraciously collected throughout his colorful life. Anthology Film Archives and J&L Books recently joined together to issue two new publications focused on Smith’s most unusual collections, Paper Airplanes: The Collections of Harry Smith, Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. 2 and String Figures: The Collections of Harry Smith, Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. 2. Each book features new essays and richly detailed photographic documentation of Smith’s decidedly eclectic assembling and research obsessions. To celebrate the release of these publications we present a program of newly preserved films alongside some very rare Harry Smith audio-visual surprises.


Both volumes will be available for sale at this screening.


Film Nos. 1-5, 7, 10 (Early Abstractions)

US, 1946-57/assembled ca. 1964, 16mm-to-35mm, 23 min.


Restored by Anthology Film Archives and The Film Foundation with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation.


A premiere of a brand new 35mm print of Smith’s landmark compilation Early Abstractions. This brilliant new print was made by doing an optical blow-up from Smith’s original 16mm master. You have never seen this classic work with such vivid color and detail.


Film No. 6,

US, 1950, 16mm, silent, anaglyph 3-D 1.5 minutes

New print by Anthology Film Archives.

Smith’s shortest film abstraction is also his only known attempt to work in 3-D.


Film No. 15

US, 1965-66, 16mm, silent 10 minutes

Preserved by Anthology Film Archives.

In this film, Smith animates his extensive collection of Seminole patchwork.


Film No. 19

US, 1980, 35mm, 12.5 min.


Completed over 15 years after the footage was shot and almost never publicly presented, Film No. 19 contains further outtakes from Smith’s abandoned Wizard of Oz adaptation. Made directly from Smith’s workprint, these captivating fragments offer a small taste of the masterpiece that Smith never finished.


John Klacsmann is Archivist at Anthology Film Archives in New York City where he preserves artist cinema. Before joining Anthology in 2012, he worked as a preservation specialist and optical printing technician at Colorlab, a film laboratory in Maryland. He is a contributing editor to INCITE: Journal of Experimental Media.


Andrew Lampert is an artist, archivist, teacher and former Curator of Collections at Anthology Film Archives. 

Photo Courtesy of Anthology Film Archives