Underground Film Journal

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Video: A Studio Visit With Lewis Klahr

By Mike Everleth ⋅ July 15, 2011

Dear periodical collectors: Keep your stash away from filmmaker Lewis Klahr, who mines old magazines and comic books to re-purpose for his art. The Wexner Center for the Arts produced the above, embedded video visit to Klahr’s home studio where he discusses and shows off his methods of producing his acclaimed short films. However, part of that method includes digging through piles of reference material and cutting out the retro images to collage in his animation. The video also includes lengthy excerpts from films such as Pony Glass (starring Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen), Altair and more.

Personally, I’m always fascinated by collage filmmakers like Klahr and Craig Baldwin because it’s tough to wrap one’s head around the process of finding what material belongs in which film. Klahr gives us a brief glimpse of this, showing off several cut-outs that may or may not end up in whatever film he’s working on in the video.

It’s also very interesting to see Klahr working in this tiny cramped space that’s filled with reference sources, particularly old Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines inherited from his late grandparents.

Klahr also appropriates lots of comic book imagery, which somewhat puts him in the same arena as ’60s pop artists like Andy Warhol and, especially, Roy Lichtenstein. The Jimmy Olsen drawings in Pony Glass are unmistakeable, and I believe the Garden of Eden images used in False Aging are from the ’70s tabloid-sized DC comic Stories From the Bible, illustrated by Joe Kubert and Nestor Redondo. I don’t know what the little female heads on Klahr’s work table are from, but they look like they’re from classic Golden Age comics.

The last thing I really enjoy about this filmmaker profile is hearing Klahr discuss the narrative flow of his short films, which isn’t always apparent in watching the actual films. In that regard, I believe Klahr can fit into the “collage narrativist” category of filmmaker, which was coined by Craig Baldwin.

While the audio of this profile leaves something to be desired, this is a very nice piece done by the Wexner Center to commemorate an artist residency they awarded Klahr. Unfortunately, so far it’s the only one they’ve produced. They should think about doing more.

If you’re interested in viewing more of Lewis Klahr’s work, Other Cinema did release a DVD compilation of his films called Anxious Animation. You can buy it on Amazon or rent a DVD from Netflix.