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Stan Brakhage: Metaphors on Vision

February 10 – 11

“Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception. How many colors are there in a field of grass to the crawling baby unaware of ‘green’? How many rainbows can light create for the untutored eye? How aware of variations in heat waves can that eye be? Imagine a world alive with incomprehensible objects and shimmering with an endless variety of movement and innumerable gradations of color. Imagine a world before ‘in the beginning was the word.’” So begins Stan Brakhage’s classic Metaphors on Vision. First published in 1963 by Jonas Mekas as a special issue of Film Culture, it stands as the major theoretical statement by one of avant-garde cinema’s most influential figures, a treatise on mythopoeia and the nature of visual experience written in a style as idiosyncratic as Brakhage’s art. Long out of print, Metaphors on Vision has recently been republished by Anthology Film Archives and Light Industry. To celebrate this definitive new edition edited by scholar P. Adams Sitney, the National Gallery of Art presents a series of films central to the development of Brakhage’s work.  

Film Programs

The National Gallery of Art’s film program provides many opportunities throughout the year to view classic and contemporary cinema from around the world.

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