Jun 20, 2019 - Sale 2514

Sale 2514 - Lot 88

Price Realized: $ 5,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 5,000 - $ 7,500
JACK SMITH (1932-1989)

Suite of 12 stills from Jack Smith's experimental film entitled Flaming Creatures.

Silver prints, the images measuring 4 1/2x6 inches, 11.4x15.2 cm., the sheets slightly larger, one with Smith's credit, the movie information, and the Film-Makers Cooperative credit and address, in ink, on verso. 1963.

Additional Details

The cutting-edge film premiered in 1963 as part of a double feature at the Bleecker Street Cinema in New York. It garnered much acclaim within the underground arts and film scene, but not without controversy among the general public. In December of that year, Smith was awarded the Independent Film Award by Film Culture, an avant-garde cinema magazine (founded by Jonas Mekas and his brother, Adolfas).

In March '64 the NYPD raided a screening at the New Bowery Theater. The reels and projection equipment were seized, and Jonas Mekas, Florence Karpf, Jerry Sims, and Ken Jacobs were arrested. With the exception of Sims they were charged in violation of New York's obscenity laws. Members of the arts community such as Allen Ginsberg, Susan Sontag, and Willard Van Dyke came forward to testify in defense of the film's artistic merit, and the New York Supreme Court eventually reversed its convictions stating that "whatever view this Court might hold as to the obscenity of 'Flaming Creatures,' it is manifest that the appellants herein believe in good faith that the film is not obscene." Subsequently, a number of screenings around the country were canceled or raided causing widespread controversy about the censorship of the film.