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Paola Egliori - Harry Smith: American Magus

Originally published in 1996, this revised and expanded edition was prepared by Hedi El Kholti and Peter Valente.

A privileged look into the life and artistic practice of the experimental filmmaker, music anthologist, and enigmatic polymath Harry Smith.

Best known during his lifetime as an experimental filmmaker and Folkways Records music anthologist, Harry Smith (1923–1991) was a spiritual outsider and one of the most original, influential artists of the mid-century American avant-garde. An avid, inspired collector of old blues and hillbilly recordings during his youth, he became a fan of such bebop jazz as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and began making avant-garde film animations featuring patterns painted directly onto the negatives as visual accompaniments to jazz performances. Smith crossed paths with nearly everyone central to the cultural avant-garde; he lived for art and gnosis with little thought for practical consequences. In 1991, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammy Awards in New York.

Five years after Smith’s death, poet and close friend Paola Igliori began conducting intimate interviews with the filmmakers, musicians, poets, and artists who knew him best. William Breeze, Rani Singh, Jordan Belson, Lionel Ziprin, Debbie Freeman, Jonas Mekas, Allen Ginsberg, Kasoundra Kasoundra and many more. The book allows a thorough look into Smith’s era and the informal economy of influence that operated during that time. It provides invaluable insight into the mind of one of the twentieth century’s most enigmatic polymaths. This expanded edition includes photos of Smith and many other color images.

Paperback, published in 2022. 328 pages, 21 illustrations in colour, 115 i black & white.


Publisher: Semiotext(e) / ISBN: 9781635901641
Medium: Book


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