Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie’s 1959 short film
Pull My Daisy
—cited as one of the most influential works of independent film and as the beginning of the New American Cinema movement—is the third film to be screened in Gallery 2’s “active zone” in the Walker Art Center exhibition Event Horizon. On view May 4–October 10, the film is the latest piece from the Walker’s Ruben/Bentson Film and Video Study Collection to be screened in the exhibition’s designated space for moving-image works. Based on Jack Kerouac’s writings and featuring his voice-over narration, the seminal Pull My Daisy features poets Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, and Gregory Corso, as well as painters Alfred Leslie, Larry Rivers, and Alice Neel, in this Beat film about the relationship between everyday life, art, and poetry. Pull My Daisy was selected by the Library of Congress for the United States National Film Registry in 1996. (1959, 16mm transferred to video, 28 minutes.)
Born in Zürich, Switzerland, in 1924, Robert Frank is an internationally renowned photographer and filmmaker, and is considered the pioneer of the “snapshot aesthetic,” in which the documentary image is rendered bluntly and without conscious artistry. His best-known work is The Americans (1958), a composite portrait of U.S. culture made in terms of telling glimpses of clutter and trivia. These powerfully composed images were considered gross and shocking when they were first published, but soon they became an intrinsic part of American iconography, greatly influencing other artists in many media. In 1959, Frank turned to filmmaking as a method of capturing the narratives that he could not express in still images. Of this transition, Frank said, “I think I became more occupied with my own life, with my own situation, instead of traveling and looking at the cities and landscape. And I think that brought me to move away from the single image, and begin to film, where I had to tell a story.”
Born in the Bronx, New York, on October 20, 1927, multidisciplinary artist Alfred Leslie is an American artist and filmmaker. He first achieved success as an Abstract Expressionist painter, but changed course in the early 1960s and became a painter of realistic figurative paintings. Leslie is also known for his large-scale charcoal drawings, and for his work as a photographer and filmmaker. Together with Robert Frank, Leslie directed the short film Pull My Daisy in 1959. He also directed the film The Cedar Bar (2002).
Unfolding over a nearly three-year period, Event Horizon showcases the Walker’s holdings of postwar art in the context of the events that produced them, uniting painting, sculpture, and photography with film, performance, and video. Event Horizon runs through August 5, 2012.