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Harry Smith was a great American archivist, painter, and film maker who made serious contributions during the 20th century. In 1952 he released the multi-volume Anthology of American Folk Music that is arguably one of the greatest collections of traditional American music. Over the years he took interest in other American art forms collaborating with folks like Thelonious Monk, Peter Orlovsky, Alan Ginsburg, and Gregory Corso.

Following in the footsteps of Len Lye and other “direct animators.” His Early Abstractions were a Dadaist experiment in film in which he painted his effects or manipulated images by hand on celluloid. The soundtracks to the films constantly changed among various contemporary albums, by artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Phillip Glass, DJ Spooky, and the Beatles.

Early Abstractions

For more information on Harry Smith, visit the Harry Smith Archives.


Avant-garde artist in post-WWII London and New York, Len Lye created a new form of animation called ‘direct animation’ that asked the viewer not only to consider time and space but colour, pattern, action, rhythm and beat via drawing and manipulations applied directly on film strips. The quality and color of Lye’s films lent themselves nicely to the jazz scene of the 40s and 50s and his films include artists like Fats Waller, Django Reinhardt and Benny Goodman. In his later years Lye focused mainly on building kinetic sculptures.

To see a complete list of Lye’s films: Filmography