Maysles Films: Five Decades

December 1–31, 2005


In 1955, Albert Maysles traveled by motorcycle throughout Russia. During this trip, he made his first film, Psychiatry in Russia, an unprecedented view into Soviet mental healthcare. This short film, along with Showman (1963), the first Albert and David Maysles collaboration, were catalysts for five decades of powerful and innovative documentary filmmaking. Over the years, the Maysles worked in partnership on more than a dozen films, pioneering the methodology of Direct Cinema—filmmaking without intervention. By making documentaries in an aleatory manner, the Maysles captured the unpredictability of life on film, providing audiences with the exhilaration of the Rolling Stones in Gimme Shelter (1970), the loss of the American dream in Salesman (1968), and the endearing eccentricities of Grey Gardens (1976). In 1987, David Maysles died; following his death, Maysles Films entered a second phase, in which Albert Maysles continued to make compelling films true to the brothers’ original intent, but with a variety of collaborators. This exhibition explores the career trajectory of these influential filmmakers, their substantial contribution to nonfiction film, and the “power of truth” that their cameras have captured for 50 years.

Organized by Anne Morra, Assistant Curator, Department of Film and Media


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA’s Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or, please email If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to


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