Jonas Mekas
1922–2019

Introduction

Jonas Mekas (Lithuanian: [ˈjonɐs ˈmækɐs]; December 24, 1922 – January 23, 2019) was a Lithuanian-American filmmaker, poet, and artist who has been called "the godfather of American avant-garde cinema". Mekas' work has been exhibited in museums and at festivals worldwide. Mekas was active in New York City, where he co-founded Anthology Film Archives, The Film-Makers' Cooperative, and the journal Film Culture. He was also the first film critic for The Village Voice.

In the 1960s, Mekas launched anti-censorship campaigns in defense of the LGBTQ-themed films of Jean Genet and Jack Smith, garnering support from cultural figures including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Norman Mailer, and Susan Sontag. Mekas mentored and supported many prominent artists and filmmakers, including Ken Jacobs, Peter Bogdanovich, Chantal Akerman, Richard Foreman, John Waters, Barbara Rubin, Yoko Ono, and Martin Scorsese. He helped launch the writing careers of the critics Andrew Sarris, Amy Taubin, and J. Hoberman. During World War II, Mekas edited and contributed to two far-right, collaborationist newspapers under the Nazi occupation of Lithuania, the significance of which has been debated by historians.

Wikidata identifier

Q699702

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Introduction

Filmmaker, curator, archivist, critic and spokesperson for films variously known as experimental, underground, or avant-garde. Beginning in 1958, he wrote a column, Movie Journal, for The Village Voice. He founded the magazine Film Culture with his brother Adolfas Mekas, published quarterly from 1955 to 1996. He co-founded and both the Film-Maker's Cooperative and the Anthology Film Archive. He was active almost entirely in New York City from 1949.

Country of birth

Lithuania

Roles

Artist, author, cinematographer, photographer, poet

ULAN identifier

500094053

Names

Jonas Mekas

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Information from the Getty Research Institute's Union List of Artist Names ® (ULAN), made available under the ODC Attribution License. Accessed May 12, 2024.