Jonas Mekas

Lithuanian , 1922 - 2019

Jonas Mekas was born in 1922 in the farming village of Semeniškiai, Lithuania. He currently lives and works in New York City. In 1944, he and his brother Adolfas were taken by the Nazis to a forced labor camp in Elmshorn, Germany. After the War he studied philosophy at the University of Mainz. At the end of 1949 the UN Refugee Organization brought both brothers to New York City, where they settled down in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Two weeks after his arrival in New York, Jonas bought a Bolex camera and began to record brief moments of his life. He soon became deeply involved in the American Avant Garde film movement. Mekas is considered today "the godfather of American avant-garde cinema." He founded the Anthology Film Archives, on the Lower East Side, NYC, in 1969 with Jerome Hill, Adams Sitney, Peter Kubelka and Stan Brakhage. The Archive, in its original conception, was a showcase for the Essential Cinema Repertory collection. The creation of this collection was an ambitious attempt to define the art of cinema by means of a selection of films which would screen continuously to encourage the study of the medium's masterworks as works of art rather than disposable entertainment. It is the first film museum exclusively devoted to the film as an art. Mekas is also a highly acclaimed Lithuanian language poet. He has a long exhibition history, the most recent notable solo exhibition - a survey of his work in its entirety - was presented at the Serpentine Gallery, London, from December 5 2011- January 27, 2012. For more biographical and exhibition information on Jonas Mekas:
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Film Still from To New York with Love, a portfolio of 21 prints


LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies at Columbia University

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