Sunday, November 9, 2008

Allegory of a City (1921)

In 1927, the American painter Charles Sheeler (1883-1965) was first commissioned to visually document the Ford Motor Company's River Rouge plant, and thereby established his reputation as an architectural photographer. Seven years earlier, Sheeler had collaborated with photographer Paul Strand (1890-1976) to develop an homage to New York City, a short film called Manhatta. Their work, considered the first American avant-garde film, has recently been digitally restored with a new score by Donald Sosin. To watch the pre-restored film via the Metropolitan Museum of Art's portal, click here. To see the new restoration, you need to go to the Museum of Modern Art November 14th or 15th.

The creation of the restored version -- conducted by Lowry Digital Images of Burbank, California -- was dependent upon the use of the earliest extant copy, a 35-mm duplicate made in England in 1949. According to the Library of Congress, nearly 80% of the American silent era films have either been permanently lost or the extant copy is in unrestorable condition.

Image above: Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand. Film still from Manhatta (1921).

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