Filmmaker and artist Jack Smith (American, 1932-1989) embraced the Golden Age of Hollywood and underground culture in equal measure, and became a notorious icon for later generations. Normal Love, Smith's 1963 feature-length film, is loosely based on horror movies, particularly from the 1930s and 40s, as well as the work of Dominican-born B-movie star Maria Montez. Made following Smith's infamous feature, Flaming Creatures (1962-63), which caught the unfavorable attention of American censors, Normal Love includes a cast of fantastical characters ranging from a mermaid, played by Mario Montez—whose stage name was conceived in homage to the famous actress—and a mummy, enacted by Angus MacLise, the original drummer for the New York band the Velvet Underground. Shot in color and using elaborate sets, including a giant cake designed by Claes Oldenburg, Normal Love is a riotous combination of Edenic coupling, Dionysian debauchery, and horror kitsch. The presentation of the film is accompanied by a selection of Smith's photographs and works on paper that demonstrate the artist's inventive use of collage and drawing and further showcase his exuberant visual sensibility.
Jack Smith: Normal Love is organized by MoMA PS1 Assistant Curator Christopher Y. Lew.