Gregory Markopoulos: Galaxie
Gregory J. Markopoulos, Galaxie, 1966, 82 min
Introduces by Mark Webber
In 1966, Gregory Markopoulos filmed portraits of notable figures in the New York art world, including painters, poets, critics, filmmakers, and choreographers. Markopoulos populated his Galaxie with a remarkable constellation of personalities, ranging from those in his immediate circle of filmmakers (Jonas Mekas, Storm de Hirsch, the Kuchar Brothers) to luminaries from other art forms (Jasper Johns, W. H. Auden, Allen Ginsberg). Each is shot with a single roll of 16mm film and, though edited entirely in-camera in the moment of filming, comprises many layers of dense superimpositions that build a complex portrait of the sitter. The subjects were invited to pose in their home or studio, together with personal objects of their choice: Parker Tyler is a seen with a drawing by Tchelitchew, Susan Sontag with photographs of Garbo and Dietrich, Shirley Clarke and Maurice Sendak both with children’s toys, Gregory Battcock with a Christmas card and zebra rug. The film is silent except for the sound of a Hindu bell, its number of rings increasing incrementally until 30 chimes accompany the final portrait.
With this new form of portraiture, Markopoulos developed a detached but empathetic middle ground between the cool objectivity of Warhol’s Screen Tests and the informal portrayals of friends seen in the diary films of Mekas. The portrait would subsequently become a prevalent aspect of Markopoulos’ filmmaking for works such as Through a Lens Brightly: Mark Turbyfill, Political Portraits, Index: Hans Richter and Saint Actaeon. Portraits of individuals such as Giorgio de Chirico, Alberto Moravia, Mark Tobey, Eugène Ionesco, Patricia Highsmith, Lucebert, Peggy Guggenheim, Anton Bruckner and Barbara Hepworth populate his monumental, final work Eniaios, which was conceived to only be shown at a site specifically chosen by Markopoulos in the Greek province of Arcadia.
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