John Cassavetes was America’s midcentury pioneer of independent filmmaking. More than any other artist, he demonstrated that an American cinema made outside of Hollywood was not only possible, but, given his ferocious and generous spirit, could be exceptional. His cinema, at once spontaneous, intimate, and direct, established both the rough aesthetic and the psychological themes for a generation of filmmakers to follow, from Martin Scorsese to the proponents of the film movement Dogma 95. In 1980, The Museum of Modern Art prepared its first Cassavetes retrospective, John Cassavetes, Filmmaker and Actor, establishing a strong relationship with the artist. At the time of Cassavetes’s death—in 1989, at the age of 59—MoMA had collected most of his films, and the Department of Film and Media prepared a 10-work memorial exhibition, John Cassavetes: From the Archive. Acknowledging the classic status of these works and the filmmaker’s continuing influence, the Department presents a reworked version of that exhibition.
Organized by Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator, Department of Film and Media.