Neelon Crawford

The Geometry of Abstraction

Feb 18–20, 2022


Rays. 1969. USA. Directed by Neelon Crawford. The Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • MoMA, Floor T2/T1 The Debra and Leon Black Family Film Center

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Multimedia artist Neelon Crawford (American, b. 1946) was a member of the experimental filmmaking scenes in Ohio, San Francisco, and New York from the late 1960s through the early ’80s. Describing his work at the time as “experiments in the geometry of abstraction made possible by the movie camera,” Crawford uses 16mm films to reflect his interests in light, landscape, and movement. His work was twice presented in the Museum’s prestigious Cineprobe series in the 1970s, before he retired from film and withdrew his work from circulation to pursue a successful career as a photographer and painter (like his father, Ralston Crawford). MoMA acquired his complete collection of original elements and viewing prints in 2016.

Following a June 2021 run on MoMA’s Virtual Cinema platform, and in conjunction with Crawford’s current gallery exhibition, this theatrical screening marks the first time his complete films have been shown in MoMA’s theaters since his 1970s Cineprobe programs, introducing him to a new generation of viewers and restoring his work to the American avant-garde cinema canon.

Crawford states, “The films in this exhibition are sequences of images in time juxtaposed with each other by my visual intuition. In the 1960s a spring-wound Bolex movie camera and 100 feet of 16mm film put the basics of cinematic production into my hands. The mechanical adjustment of the Bolex shutter, exposure, film transport speed, and image superimposition, allowed me direct access to the control of moving pictures.

Any tool I might employ, a pencil, a brush, a still camera, a movie camera, or, now, an iPhone, has its own particular strengths and weaknesses, which inevitably influences the work I do with it. The ongoing dialogues between the capacity of technical resources and the understanding of how to maximize their potential has always intrigued me.”

All film descriptions were written by Neelon Crawford.

Organized by Ron Magliozzi, Curator, and Brittany Shaw, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film.

Film at MoMA is made possible by CHANEL.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black and by Steven Tisch, with major contributions from The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Karen and Gary Winnick, and The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston.


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