Jonas Mekas was born in 1922 in the farming village of Semeniškiai, Lithuania. He currently lives and works in New York City. In 1944, he and his brother Adolfas were taken by the Nazis to a forced labor camp in Elmshorn, Germany. After the War he studied philosophy at the University of Mainz. At the end of 1949 the UN Refugee Organization brought both brothers to New York City, where they settled down in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Two weeks after his arrival in New York he borrowed money to buy his first Bolex camera and began to record brief moments of his life. He soon got deeply involved in the American Avant-Garde film movement. In 1954, together with his brother, he started Film Culture magazine, which soon became the most important film publication in the US. In 1958 he began his legendary Movie Journal column in the Village Voice. In 1962 he founded the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, and in 1964 the Film-Makers’ Cinematheque, which eventually grew into Anthology Film Archives, one of the world’s largest and most important repositories of avante-garde cinema, and a screening venue.

During all this time he continued writing poetry and making films. To this date he has published more than 20 books of prose and poetry, which have been translated into over 12 languages. His Lithuanian poetry is now part of Lithuanian classic literature and his films can be found in leading museums around the world. He is largely credited for developing the diaristic forms of cinema. Since 2000, Mekas has expanded his work into the area of film installations, exhibiting at the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Moderna Museet (Stockholm), PS1 Contemporary Art Center MoMA, Documenta of Kassel, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, and the Venice Biennale. In 2007, the Jonas Mekas Center for the Visual Arts opened in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Selected Recent Solo Exhibitions

Jonas Mekas, Serpentine Gallery, London
Jonas Mekas/José Luis Guerin, Centre Pompidou, Paris
Jonas Mekas, BFI Southbank, London
Images Out of Darkness: Reminiscences of a Displaced Person, James Fuentes Gallery, New York

Solo exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, London

TO NEW YORK WITH LOVE, James Fuentes LLC, New York

Destruction Quartet, James Fuentes LLC, New York

Jonas Mekas, Museum Ludwig, Cologne

Jonas Mekas: The Beauty of Friends Being Together Quartet, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York
Recent Work, Maya Stendhal Gallery, New York

Brief Glimpses of Beauty, Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Center, Warwick
It all comes back now in glimpses, Sketch Gallery, London
He Stands in the Desert Counting the Seconds of His Life, Tamayo Contemporary Art Museum, Mexico City
Jonas Mekas, Baltic Art Center, Visby
The Diary Film, Göteborg Kunsthalle, Sweden

Always a Littler Further, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, 51st International Exhibition
Jonas Mekas—Celebration of the Small and the Personal in the Time of Bigness, Contemporary Art Center Vilnius
Fragments of Paradise, Maya Stendhal Gallery, New York
Farewell to Soho, Moderna Museet, Stocklholm

Frozen Films Frames, Maison Europòene de la Photographie, Paris
Frozen Film Frames, Sideshow Gallery, New York, with Rosas Valado
Jonas Mekas: A Camera for Jonas, Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Laboratorium, Antwerpen Open, Antwerp

Selected Recent Group Exhibitions

Jonas Mekas/Robert Polidori: Portraits, Edwynn Houk Gallery, NY

Bienal de São Paolo, São Paolo
Illegal Living, 80 Wooster, New York
Inaugural Show, Microscope, New York
Eve of Fluxus, The Emily Harvey Foundation
1989, Kunsthalle Wien
See this Sound, Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz

1968, Kunsthalle Bielefeld
A few things I want to share with you, My Paris Friends, galerie du jour agnès b., Paris

That Was Then… This is Now, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York
Self Portraits 1966 – 2008, James Fuentes LLC, New York

The Expanded Eye, Kusthaus Zurich
Onestar Stop, Galerie Erna Hòcy, Brussels

Balance and Power- Performance and Surveillance in Video Art, Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, IL
Thank You for the Music, Spruth Magers Projeckte, Munich
Repetitions, Maya Stendhal Gallery, New York

The Agnès B Collection, Les Abattoirs – Frac Midi-Pyrénées, Toulouse

Fables de L’Identitò, Centre National de la Photographie, Paris
La Biennale di Venezia, Installation at the Utopia Station Pavillion, Venice

Documenta 11, Kassel

Honors and Awards

Awards and grants from numerous sources including the New York State Council on the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Albright Knox Gallery, and the Long Wharf Theater Foundation

Commandeur de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres, awarded by the French Consulate of New York

“Lifetime Achievement Award” at Rob Pruitt’s 2010 Guggenheim Art Awards

Baltic Cultural Achievement Award
Austrian Decoration of Honor for Science and Art

Selection of the Library of Congress National Film Registry
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award
Directors Guild of America Award

Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Ministry of Culture, France

Pier Paolo Pasolini Award, Paris
International Documentary Film Association Award, Los Angeles
Governors Award, Skohegan School of Painting and Sculpture
Doctor of Fine Arts, Honoris Causa, Universitatis Vytauti Magni, Lituania

Doctor of Fine Arts, Honoris Causa, Kansas City Art Institute

Lithuanian National Award

Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Ministry of Culture, France
Mel Novikoff Award, San Francisco Film Festival

Creative Arts Award, Brandeis University

Guggenheim Fellowship

Gold Medal, Philadelphia College of Art, “For the devotion, passion, and selfless dedication to the rediscovery of the newest art”

Selected Bibliography
“A Few Things I Want to Share with You, My Paris Friends,” Galerie du Jour, Paris, 2009
Jonas Mekas,” Koenig Books, for the exhibition at the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 2008
“Jonas Mekas,” Fondazione Ragghianti, Lucca, Italy, 2008 [Italian]
“The Avante-Garde from Futurism to Fluxus,” Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center, Vilnius, 2007
“The Diary Film/Dagboksfilmen,” edited by Liutauras Psibilskis, Moderna Museet, Stockholm 2005
“Jonas Mekas: Converstations, Letters, Notes, Misc. Pieces,” edited by Liutauras Psibilskis, published by the Lithuanian Art Musuem on the occasion of the Venice Biennale, 2005
Chodorov, Pip, and Patrice Rollet, “Lost Lost Lost Book,” Editions Paris Experimental, 2000
“Jonas Mekas: This Side of Paradise,” Exhibition catalog, Galerie du Jour, Paris, 1999
“Sustabdytos Akimirkos,” Exhibition catalog, Contemporary Art Museum, Vilnius, 1997
“Jonas Mekas: Frozen Film Frames,” Photo-Planete, Tokyo, 1997
Chodorov, Pip, and Christian Lebrat, “Le Livre de Walden,” Editions Paris Experimental, Paris, 1997
“Jonas Mekas: Frozen Film Frames,” Exhibition catalog, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 1996 [Japanese]
“Jonas Mekas,” Catalog and texts, Galerie du Jour, Paris, 1996
“Jonas Mekas,” Catalog, Galerie Nationale Jeu de Paume, Paris, 1992
James, David, “To Free the Cinema: Jonas Mekas and the New York Underground,” Princeton University Press, 1992
“Jonas Mekas,” Exhibition catalog, Tokyo, 1983
Briggs, Judy, “Jonas Mekas,” Films in the Cities, St. Paul, 1980
Arbasino, Alberto, “Entre el ‘underground’ y el ‘off-off,’” Editorial Anagrama, Barcelona, 1970

Extended Essays and Interviews
Northover, Benn, “Jonas Mekas,” AnOther Man, Autum/Winter 2010
Lack, Hannah, “New York Stories,” Dazed and Confused, August 2010
Rose, Aaron, “Jonas Mekas,” ANP Quarterly, January 2010
Haden-Guest, Anthony, “Dispatches from the Inside,”  Art Newspaper, November 2009
Kley, Elisabeth, “Jonas Mekas at James Fuentes,” Artinfo, November 2009
Verwoert, Jan, “Who Loves the Sun?” Frieze, April 2006
Taubin, Amy, “Footage fetish: Amy Taubin on Jonas Mekas,” Artforum, 2005
Dargis,  Manohla, “The World through Blood-tinted Lenses,” New York Times, June 2005
Sans, Jerome, “An Interview with Jonas Mekas,” Steidl, 2000
MacDonald, Scott, “Interview with Jonas Mekas,” October, Summer 1984
Tomkins, Calvin, “All Pockets Open,” New Yorker profile, January 1973
Levy, Alan, “Voices of the Underground Cinema,” The New York Times Magazine, September 1965

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