Marie Menken (1909-1970) was an American experimental filmmaker and avant-garde artist. She is best known for her pioneering work in the independent film movement of the 1940s and 1950s.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Menken was a child prodigy who was proficient in music, art, and writing at an early age. She studied painting at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and later at the Hans Hoffmann School of Fine Art. In the late 1930s, she began making experimental film shorts, often in collaboration with her husband, the avant-garde painter Willard Maas.
Menken's films are often characterized by their use of unconventional camera techniques such as stop-motion, double exposure, and extreme close-ups. Her work also often explored themes of female identity and sexuality. Menken's most famous film, the 16-minute piece "Glimpse of the Garden," was released in 1957 and was hailed by critics as a brilliant and innovative work of art.
In addition to her filmmaking, Menken was also a prolific photographer. She was an early adopter of the Kodachrome color photography process, and her photographs were exhibited in numerous galleries and museums. Menken also wrote several books and articles on the art of filmmaking.
Menken was a fixture of the New York avant-garde art scene, and her work was celebrated by the likes of Jack Smith, Andy Warhol, Stan Brakhage, and Jonas Mekas. She was also a mentor to a number of up-and-coming filmmakers, including Shirley Clarke, Stan Vanderbeek, and Kenneth Anger.
In 1970, Menken died of a stroke at the age of 61. Her legacy as a groundbreaking filmmaker and influential artist lives on today. Her films continue to be screened and discussed, and her photographs continue to be exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. Menken is remembered as a fearless innovator who pushed the boundaries of art and film.