I’ve talked about him before and it certainly won’t be the last. Yes, Harry Smith was a genius. Aside from his Anthology of Folk Music, he was also a talented painter and filmmaker. In the late 40’s, Smith literally melded these two mediums together in animations he dubbed “Abstractions.” Smith was a resourceful man whose creativity knew no limits. Having done much photography and many short films, Smith was fascinated by visual expression. Upon being inspired to do animation but not having the necessary equipment to create it, he decided he’d just do it anyway. By hand-painting each frame of film himself.
It took him months, sometimes years, to finish an animation. It is impossible – and pointless – to try and classify these films or to try and describe their emotional impact. The beauty of Smith’s work is its ultimate paradoxes: joyous yet chaotic, effortless yet labored.