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Animator showcase engages children with art at Noguchi

Animator showcase engages children with art at Noguchi
A still from Robert Breer’s film “Bang!” (1986, 10 mins.), screening as part of a family program presented by Museum of the Moving Image and The Noguchi Museum. Photo courtesy Anthology Film Archives.
By Nathan Duke

Parents of creative children with short attention spans take note. The Museum of the Moving Image and the Noguchi Museum will collaborate this weekend on an hour−long retrospective of the works of avant garde animator Robert Breer that will include screenings of his short films and art activities.

Breer, who has been a key figure in the American avant garde movement since the 1960s, often combines home movie and live action footage with animation, focusing primarily on line, shape and abstract form.

David Schwartz, chief curator for Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image, said the free−of−charge event will be a rare chance for borough residents to view Breer’s work.

“I think it’s fairly rare to see these films,” he said. “And I think the selection gives a good overview of his career. All the films are pretty short and very concentrated. There’s so much happening in them. It’s a lot to absorb.”

The screenings will take place Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Noguchi Museum, which is located at 9−01 33rd Rd. in Long Island City. The seven films in the program were selected by Schwartz.

“They are very kinetic, changing from frame to frame, while most animation tries to give you a smooth, more realistic, scene,” he said. “His films are very free flowing. Breer works by free association.”

Schwartz said Breer’s earliest films were hand−drawn on index cards that he photographed one frame at a time.

“You really feel the hand of the artist and his personality,” he said. “It’s not computer−generated. He has footage of domestic scenes — airplanes, animals, balloons, flowers, telephones and frogs. He draws day−to−day life.”

Films in the program include “Homage to Jean Tinguely’s Homage to New York” (1968), “Fuji” (1973), “Swiss Army Knife with Rats and Pigeons” (1980), “Trial Balloons” (1982),“Bang” (1986),”ATOZ” (2000) and “What Goes Up” (2003).

The screening will incorporate art activities for children ages 2 to 12, said Heather Brady, head of education at the Noguchi Museum. Brady said visitors will be encouraged to draw shapes and designs inspired by Breer’s films as well as by the sculptures of Isamu Noguchi, the museum’s namesake, on the wall.

“Most of the objects on view in the museum are abstract works on paper, stone or metal,” Brady said. “Some of the shapes Breer explores are similar to the forms Noguchi explored. I think people will see that [Breer’s] patterns evoke and connect to the textures in Noguchi’s sculptures.”

She said the event will be free, but reservations are required. The event will likely be crowded and the museum is considering screening the films twice in the same day due to high interest in the program, she said.

To register, e−mail [email protected] and list the number of people in your party.

The Museum of the Moving Image will also host an upcoming triple movie feature of director Greg Mottola’s films on March 22 at the Directors Guild Theater, which is located at 110 W. 57th St. in Manhattan.

Mottola’s three films include critically acclaimed independent film “The Daytrippers” (1996), which stars Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, Parker Posey and Hope Davis as members of a suburban family driving to Manhattan to confront a philandering husband, and 2007 hit “Superbad.”

The day’s third screening will be of “Adventureland,” Mottola’s new film, which will be released March 27 nationwide. The film, which stars Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, follows a high−school graduate who had planned to move to New York City to study art history but instead winds up with a summer job at a seedy amusement park.

Tickets for “The Daytrippers,” which screens at 2 p.m., and “Superbad,” which screens at 4:30 p.m., are $15 for non−museum members. Tickets for “Adventureland,” which screens at 7:30 p.m., will be $12 for museum members and $18 for non−members. Schreiber will speak after the first screening, while the director will interact with the audience before and after all three films.

Tickets can be ordered online at www.movingimage.us.

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