Silent-era slapstick dealt with social, cultural, political, and aesthetic themes that continue to be central concerns around the world today. Issues of Race, ethnicity, gender, and public order have traditionally been among the most vital sources for rude forms of comedy. Drawing on MoMA’s holdings of silent comedy, acquired largely in the 1970s and 1980s by curator Eileen Bowser, these programs present this otherwise little-seen body of work to contemporary audiences from an engaging perspective. These highlights from the first two installments in the series (in 2009 and 2010) feature comedy on the subjects of sexual identity, surrealism, and child care. All films are silent with piano accompaniment by Ben Model.

Organized by Ron Magliozzi, Associate Curator, with Steve Massa, film historian, and Ben Model, film historian and accompanist.

Yamaha Modus H1 piano generously provided through Yamaha Artist Services, New York.

Licensing of MoMA images and videos is handled by Art Resource (North America) and Scala Archives (all other geographic locations). All requests should be addressed directly to those agencies, which supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.