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The Hollis Frampton Collection

Filmmaker, photographer, and critic Hollis Frampton (1936-1984) is considered one of the most brilliant and important figures of the American avant-garde. He was born in Ohio and attended Phillips Academy in Andover on a full scholarship, a nascent polymath whose studies—and friendships with Frank Stella and Carl Andre—foretold his future place in the midst of the vital New York City art scene of the 1960s. After Andover Frampton attended Western Reserve University, during which time he began a correspondence with Ezra Pound, moving to Washington, D.C. to study with the poet. In 1958, Frampton relocated to New York and began his career as a still photographer. He was exhibiting his films on a regular basis by the late 60s and in 1973 joined the faculty at SUNY Buffalo, where he helped develop the illustrious Center for Media Study. Throughout the 1970s Frampton wrote for Artforum and October; many of these articles are collected in his seminal book Circles of Confusion: Film, Photography, Video – Texts 1968 – 1980. After 1972, Frampton concentrated on his 36-hour-long calendrical film cycle, Magellan, which remained incomplete at the time of his death. During this time, Frampton also produced xerographic and photographic works and pursued his interest in computer science.

In 2003, photographer Marion Faller, with whom Frampton worked and lived the last 13 years of his life, donated significant material to the Harvard Film Archive. The holdings contain a variety of media such as original art in the form of Frampton’s photographic and xerographic images; papers that include letters written to Frampton and material corresponding to exhibitions of his work; videotapes with footage of and about Frampton; and many audio recordings. Highlights of the over one hundred audio items, most of which are unique, include Michael Snow’s reading of A Lecture; recordings from Frampton’s semester-long SUNY Buffalo seminar on the films of Stan Brakhage, including interviews with and lectures by Brakhage; Frampton speaking at screenings of his work, such as a 1972 discussion of Palindrome in Annette Michelson’s NYU classroom; and music produced by Frampton.

A finding aid for the Hollis Frampton Collection can be found here.

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