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Jonas Mekas,”the godfather of American avant-garde cinema”, dies at home age 96

9 months ago

Jonas Mekas, “the godfather of American avant-garde cinema”, has died age 96. His death was announced on his Facebook page on the 23rd of January 2019, the post read: “Jonas passed away quietly and peacefully early this morning. He was at home with family. He will be greatly missed but his light shines on.”

He was a wartime refugee, New York cinephile, a forward thinking exhibitor, revolutionary critic, filmmaker, poet, musician, wine connoisseur and partyman.

The Lithuanian born director fled the Nazis and found himself amongst the New York 1960s avant garde, including Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. His apartment in New York became the breeding ground for artistic experimentation, The Velvet Underground rehearsed there Warhol a regular, Salvador Dalí came to visit.

The director made over 60 films throughout the course of his career, influencing generations of film-makers.

Mekas’ film The Brig was awarded the Grand Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1963. Other films include Walden (1969), Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (1972), Lost Lost Lost (1975), Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol (1990), Scenes from the Life of George Maciunas (1992), As I was Moving Ahead I saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty (2000), Letter from Greenpoint (2005), Sleepless Nights Stories (2011) and Out-takes from the Life of a Happy Man. In 2007, he completed a series of 365 short films released on the internet — one film every day — and then continued to share new work on his website.

Mekas expanded his work into the area of film installations, exhibiting at the Serpentine Gallery, the Centre Pompidou, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Moderna Museet (Stockholm), PS1 Contemporary Art Center MoMA, Documenta of Kassel, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and the Venice Biennale.

Lara Morrell

  • Jonas Mekas (1922 — 2019) Jonas Mekas (1922 — 2019)