Exhibition celebrates the 90th birthday of Ken Jacobs

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Exhibition celebrates the 90th birthday of Ken Jacobs
In an image provided by Carter Seddon, Broadway Windows Gallery in Manhattan, which is showing a panoramic selection of Ken Jacobs’ nearly 70 years of pioneering films and digital videos. “Ken Jacobs: Up the Illusion” explores how the artist has kept New York City at the heart of even his most esoteric work. (Carter Seddon/80 Washington Square East, NYU via The New York Times)

NEW YORK, NY.- 80WSE is presenting Up The Illusion, a momentous survey exhibition celebrating the 90th birthday of Ken Jacobs, one of our most iconic and indefatigable moving image artists. Curated by Andrew Lampert, this street level exhibition features a panoramic selection of Jacobs’ nearly 70 years of pioneering films and digital videos in the Broadway Windows gallery located on the corner of Broadway and E. 10th Street.

Dating from the mid-1950s through today, and unfolding over the course of seven months, the thematically organized works displayed in each window will evolve over the course of the exhibition, spotlighting the wildly divergent aspects of the artist’s prolific output. This is the first exhibition to feature Jacobs’ largely unseen drawings alongside his critically acclaimed moving image works. Experienced side-by-side, the painterly concerns and qualities at the heart of Jacobs’ distinctive multimedia approach are brought firmly into the foreground.

Called “one of the most extraordinary unknown personalities in the history of American movies” by critic J. Hoberman, Ken Jacobs (b.1933) is a key figure in the history of experimental cinema.

A native New Yorker, Jacobs studied painting with Hans Hofman in the early 1950s before embracing filmmaking and performance as his primary mediums. A central figure in the underground film movement of the 1960s, Jacobs’ decades of restless output includes more than forty motion pictures and dozens of live performance pieces made with both his self-invented double 16mm “Nervous System” projection apparatus and his nearly indescribable, almost intergalactic “Nervous Magic Lantern.” Since embracing video in 1999, he has produced well over 150 space, time and perception bending pieces that transpose his formal and 3D explorations into the digital dimension.

Broadway Windows is a series of five street-level windows located at the corner of Broadway and East 10th Street. The installations can be viewed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Ken Jacobs is the recipient of multiple awards from the National Society of Film Critics, numerous major grants (NEA, Rockefeller, Guggenheim, Creative Capital, NYSCA), and other prizes. His 1970 film Tom, Tom, The Piper’s Son was selected by the Library of Congress for inclusion on the National Film Registry. His innovative works are regularly screened around the world and he has been the subject of multiple retrospectives over the decades. Jacobs has films and videos in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Anthology Film Archives, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Centre Pompidou and in many more museums around the world. A Distinguished Professor of Cinema Emeritus at S.U.N.Y. Binghamton, where he taught for over 30 years, Jacobs’ influence has deeply impacted several generations of moving image artists. Often written about in the area of cinema studies, his work has been analyzed in the 2011 book Optic Antics: The Cinema Of Ken Jacobs (Oxford University Press) and he is the author of a major forthcoming volume of collected writings from The Visible Press in England.

Andrew Lampert is an artist, writer and archivist whose extensive body of film, video and performance works have been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Centre Pompidou, Getty Museum, PS1, New York Film Festival, British Film Institute, Toronto International Film Festival and the International Film Festival of Rotterdam among many other international venues. The former Curator of Collections at Anthology Film Archives, Lampert has preserved hundreds of films by many of cinema’s most esteemed artists, including Ken Jacobs. He has edited books on Tony Conrad, George Kuchar, Harry Smith, Manuel DeLanda and most recently Willliam Wegman. Lampert is a primary in the firm Chen & Lampert, and the co-author of the monthly advice column Hard Truths for Art in America. His most recent curated exhibition was Attention Line in 2022 at Artists Space, NY. Lampert’s videos are distributed by Electronic Arts Intermix and he has released two albums, Lush Valley and A Mood Supreme.

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