četvrtak, 8. kolovoza 2013.

Marie Menken - Glimpse of the Garden (1957)


Marie Menken utjecala je na Warhola, Angera, Mekasa i Brakhagea a prema njoj je stvoren ženski lik u drami/filmu Tko se boji Virginie Woolf?

Marie Menken was born Marie Menkevicius in New York City on May 25, 1909, the daughter of Catholic Lithuanian immigrants. She grew up in Brooklyn with a brother and a sister, in a home used to frequent financial difficulties. Both she and her sister Adele later changed their surname to Menken. Marie Menken and Willard Maas had got married in 1937, moving into a Brooklyn penthouse at 62 Montague Street which they would inhabit until their deaths. She died on December 29, 1970. Four days after her death, on January 2, 1971, Willard Maas died. 

Go! Go! Go! (1962-64)

Marie Menken Notebook    

Martina Kudlácek, director of the critically acclaimed In the Mirror of Maya Deren, brings us the story of Marie Menken (1909-1970), one of New York’s outstanding underground filmmakers, who inspired and worked with renowned artists Andy Warhol, Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas, Kenneth Anger and Gerard Malanga, and became known as “the mother of the avant-garde.” Originally an abstract painter and collage artist, Menken produced nearly two dozen experimental shorts, gracefully using a hand-held Bolex camera to create rhythmic patterns of light, color, form and texture, and compose exquisite visual poems. Rich in excerpts of Menken’s work, the film also features the rare and fascinating footage of “The Duel of the Bolexes” she conducted with Andy Warhol on a New York rooftop.

We saw Kenneth Anger yesterday, kicking around the semi-ruin of Aleister Crowley’s Abbey of Thelema. He’s also been on my screen in Martina Kudláček’s brilliant 2006 documentary Notes on Marie Menken, which I’ve watched twice over the last few days. Kudláček, who made the definitive portrait of Maya Deren (In the Mirror of Maya Deren, 2002) here looks at an even less acknowledged US-based female experimental filmmaker of Eastern European origin. Marie Menken started as a painter and moved on to stunningly beautiful short films whose style and methods would influence Andy Warhol and Stan Brakhage. In her lifetime she was overshadowed by her husband Willard Maas, a poet and English literature professor (and also occasional filmmaker), a situation which led to considerable conflict.
From 1937 until their deaths a few days apart from each other in the early 1970s, the couple lived in a penthouse apartment at 62 Montague Street, Brooklyn Heights. Menken and Maas kept something like a salon, although “salon” may be the wrong term for the drunken parties which just happened to feature the likes of Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe and Truman Capote. Later there was considerable crossover with the Warhol Factory crowd, particularly in the form of Gerard Malanga. He regarded the filmmaker as something of a mother figure and the two were in Warhol’s Chelsea Girls together (above).
Anger lived with Menken and Maas in the early 1960s, and he, along with the couple’s guests, witnessed their titanic drinking jags which stretched from Friday evening to Monday morning. Anger recalls the couple out on the roof, drunkenly jousting over a sheer drop down to the street. Their ferocious mutual haranguing would assume the quality of piercing free jazz, often incorporating guests in its themes and variations.
If that scenario sounds somewhat familiar, it may interest you to know that another visitor to the penthouse was playwright Edward Albee, who borrowed much from the couple to create the characters of George and Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
And whaddya know? The penthouse apartment at 62 Montague Street, that important site of post-war American literature and film art, is currently for sale. And this all leads us neatly to tomorrow’s theme…
(Don’t you love it when things come together?) - strangeflowers.wordpress.com/
American filmmaker Marie Menken was born on this day in 1909. It was through Charles Henri Ford, as we have seen, that Menken first came into contact with Andy Warhol. Martina Kudláček’s 2006 documentary Notes on Marie Menken (which I can’t recommend highly enough) preserves an encounter between the two on the roof of Menken’s apartment building, in which they spar with cameras, circling each other, lunging and generally goofing off in a way we wouldn’t ordinarily associate with the inscrutable Pope of Pop.
In 1965 Menken produced a short film portrait of Warhol at the Factory. Warhol’s long-term assistant Gerard Malanga, for whom Menken was a kind of mother figure, also features prominently. The pair work with an industry which lives up to the Factory’s name, reminding us that Warhol’s studio wasn’t just a crèche for speed-crazed socialites.
Much of Andy Warhol (in two parts, below) is shot at the frenetic pace familiar from earlier Menken films such as Go! Go! Go!. There’s Warhol making silkscreen prints of Jackie Kennedy, Warhol walking past said images in a repeating loop like a cheap Hanna-Barbera cartoon backdrop, Warhol wrapping Brillo boxes for an exhibition. At the gallery opening, the social whirl speeds up to a blur. One of the few reflective moments in the film comes when Menken goes to an industrial facility where actual Brillo boxes are being loaded onto trucks. She seems to define the art world as a heedless rush of mass production and grinding routine compared to the more rarefied realm of manufacturing and dispatch.
Menken’s best-known cinematic association with Andy Warhol came the following year, with her role in his film Chelsea Girls. It’s unfortunate that her appearance preserves little of the ingenuity, warmth and generosity of spirit remarked upon by all who knew her. Instead she turned in the kind of drunken, cantankerous rant she would occasionally direct at her closeted husband Willard Maas, episodes which so inspired Edward Albee as he was writing Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

- strangeflowers.wordpress.com/

Lights (1966):

 Visual Variations on Noguchi (1945) 

"Poetry of natural sound" score by Lucia Dlugoszewski. 

"By use of hand-held, ambulating camera, unusual editing and a startling experimental score by Lucille Dlugozewski, the sculptures of the famous Japanese-American artist, Isamu Noguchi, are given audacious movement in a controversial art-film experiment." -- Cinema 16 

"Never before have I seen such purely dynamic treatment of sculpture in film. Marie Menken has successfully transformed Noguchi's sculpture into her own medium." -- Norman McLaren (The Film-Makers' Cooperative) 

 Glimpse of the Garden (1957) 

Filmed in a garden through a powerful magnifying glass, filmmaker Marie Menken's Glimpse of the Garden is a simple visual poem accompanied by the sound of birdsongs. When Glimpse of the Garden was shown at the Cinemathèque Française in 1963, Jonas Mekas reported that the French audience laughed at it, embarrassed by the film's benign simplicity. Suffice it to say that Glimpse of the Garden represents Menken's interest in pure visuals and essentially feminine point-of-view 

 Go! Go! Go! (1962-1964) 

Yet for Menken, animation also became a way of radically transforming the world around her, reimagining postwar New York City, for example, in her masterpiece of single frame cinematography Go! Go! Go! (1962-64), a work that condenses two years of patient documentary filmmaking into a delirious and exhilarating vision of a hyperactive city. 

 Notebook (1963)

Duration: 10' 37"

Regarding Notebook, filmmaker Marie Menken once stated that "these are too tiny or too obvious for comment, but one or two are my dearest children." Menken was being far too humble, as Notebook is considered by many aficionados of experimental cinema as being her greatest work. Notebook was assembled in 1962 and 1963 from bits and pieces of films Menken had shot over the years; some of these short takes date as far back as the late '40s. Individual segments are organized into brief chapters, which include such experiments as single-frame footage of neon signs at night, single-frame footage of the moon, a shot of a leaf collecting water in a light rainstorm, and others. Stan Brakhage stayed with Menken and her husband, Willard Maas, when he first settled in New York in the 1950s. Brakhage was shown many of the individual pieces that ultimately made up Notebook, and later gladly acknowledged his own stylistic debt to them, which is most readily apparent in Brakhage's Anticipation of the Night (1958). ~ David Lewis, All Movie Guide

In a remarkable series of disarmingly unpretentious films she demonstrated a rhythmic inventiveness perhaps previously unmatched in the cinema. In Notebook she stored fragments from all phases of her filmic career, from the mid-forties to the late sixties. There we can see how, at a time when most of her contemporaries were invoking the Dionysian imagination in their invented imagery, Menken was exploring the dynamics of the edge of the screen and playing with the opposition of immanent and imposed rhythm. The exquisite early Raindrops dramatizes the subtle wit of her vision of the perceptual model. As she waits behind the camera for a drop of rain on the tip of a leaf to gather sufficient mass to fall, we sense her impatience and even anxiety lest the film will run out on her; so an unseen hand taps the branch, forcing the drops to fall. Tampering this way with an otherwise straightforward observational film is characteristic of Menken, who cheerfully incorporates the extraneous reflection of herself and her camera, even her cigarette smoke, into an animated fragment and who makes the very nervous instability of the hand-held camera a part of the rhythmic structure of several films.

 Lights (1964-66)

Duration: 5' 52"

"Marie Menken's Lights is a film of such joy, such pure sensual beauty, that it is breathtaking and overwhelming. In just seven minutes, with a breakneck sequence of abstract, colorful images of lights floating in a black nighttime field, Menken delivers an intoxicating visual experience. It's an abstracted vision, like the work of Stan Brakhage, a celebration of light and color in which each frame is alive with furious scribbles of blurred light and tangled rainbow beams. It's as though Menken is drawing with light by shaking her camera, unleashing small hash marks of white light and amber curlicues that twist around each other. Through Menken's expressive stylization, the marks and lines of these lights become a form of handwriting, an abstract language inscribed in the twists and turns of motion-blurred neon, car brake lights and Christmas decorations. The film was assembled over the course of three years, during which Menken shot Christmas window displays and other seasonal decorations, working mostly late in the night, when she could be alone in the darkness with these vibrant beacons. "

"The resulting film is truly a visceral experience like no other, matched only by the best of Brakhage's light works. Menken molds and shapes light into alien structures, destabilizing the familiar into a blur of fleeting sensory impressions. The film opens with shots of multi-colored Christmas lanterns hanging in a tree. Menken's camera at first patiently pans across these lights, capturing their vibrant glow, their definite shapes: bell-like cups when viewed from the sides, becoming sun-shaped circles with white-hot centers when viewed from below. Then her camera begins to shake, to disrupt the stability of these images, transforming the concrete into the ephemeral. Little white dashes dance across the frame, moving parallel to the motion of the camera, sometimes darting sideways across the frame, sometimes falling like rain. Menken's moving camera creates designs by stretching out a single point of light into a line, as though tracing with a white pen across a black sheet of paper."

"From this dazzling abstraction, Menken steps back to reveal the source of these light patterns, as she twirls her camera around to make the giant Rockefeller Center Christmas tree do a 360-degree turn through the night, and then sets off on a whirlwind tour through the city's streets. Everywhere, there is light. A church is defined by the lights at its borders, the black foundation of the building seemingly a negative space surrounded by crisp rows of circular lights. Menken captures momentary hints of religious sentiment amidst all this bombast: a cross in lights, glowing palely in utter darkness, a rapid tracking shot across a nativity scene where Mary and the wise men are bathed in a gaudy Las Vegas neon aura emanating from somewhere nearby. These are ephemeral reminders of the origins of this celebration, the reason for all this festivity and brilliance. Blink, and you'll miss it: a recurring theme in Menken's fast-paced, sensually exciting work, of which this film is quite possibly the apex."

"From here, she's back out into the streets: images of cars, their brake lights glowing red, set off against blue dots the origins of which are more obscure. And then she shatters even this hint of the familiar, further blurring the speeding traffic into curving, bouncing lines, a trail of red lights tracing across one side of the frame with shaky white lines staggering across the other. As the pace picks up, Menken ventures further and further into abstraction, layering multiple exposures and reducing all the light and motion to cryptic calligraphic marks in the darkness, squiggles and check marks and amorphous suggestions of form. Tight clusters of these marks seem to dance across the frame, as though performing some arcane choreography, a Busby Berkeley number as performed by a chorus line of neutrons and electrons, a subatomic musical extravaganza taking place in a silent vacuum."

"Increasingly, Menken abstracts the imagery even as she incorporates more recognizably photographic exposures. A star field in which gray scratched lines hover like graphite scrapings or stalks of spiky grass. A skeletal outline of a metal globe, gray spirals, splotches of red like blood or paint, dots of light in the dark. A long view of the city skyline from across the water, with strange UFO-like bursts of light floating in the darkness. These images are haunting and beautiful, and Menken's approach makes Lights a kind of sensory fever dream. She makes these external phenomena — the properties of light as it is refracted and processed by her camera — internal and introspective, dream images dancing across the inside of the viewer's closed eyelids. It is a deeply subjective perspective, utilizing objective phenomena, like the way light behaves when it is photographed in certain ways, to create a complex inner landscape. And in its off-kilter beauty, it is a surprisingly moving film, discovering pathos and warmth in its brilliant abstractions.."



Marie Menken, If Earth in Earth Delight, 1951, oil, sand, glass, and thread on masonite, 11 ½ x 17 ½ inches. All images courtesy Douglas Crase and Frank Polach. 

Following last November's articles on Marie Menken, I've had a very enjoyable e-mail conversation with Douglas Crase. Crase, a poet and essayist based in New York, came to Menken when researching Both: A Portrait in Two Parts, his 2004 biography of Dwight Ripley and Rupert Barneby. 

It was Ripley and Barneby's Wappingers Falls garden that featured in Menken's film Glimpse of the Garden. Ripley also figured as patron and supporter of Menken and The Gryphon Group, founder of the Tibor de Nagy Gallery, small press publisher, and writer and artist in his own right. It is this last category that Crase has done much to promote, curating both Unlikely Angel: Dwight Ripley and the New York School (Poets House, New York, Feb 9-Mar 18 2005) and a recent portfolio of Ripley's botanical drawings in the excellent Esopus magazine. 

As the Tate Modern gathering made clear, there is much that remains unexplored about Menken's work and life, not least her painting. Crase included If Earth in Earth Delight in the Poets House show, and I'm grateful to him for supplying both the JPEG above and images of five further paintings that were part of Dwight Ripley's collection upon his death. 

How many other paintings exist? Crase knows of some with Menken's relatives and friends, whilst Menken was also commissioned by Lottie Rothbard to decorate a folding screen with one of her sand paintings. This was later donated to Anthology Film Archive.

Back at Tate Modern in October Melissa Ragona said in her presentation that she and P.Adams Sitney were in dispute over the relevance or not of Menken's paintings to her work. The art crit of the jpeg is a highly precarious foolishness, but, looking at IF EARTH IN EARTH DELIGHT, inparticular its application of string and sand, I couldn't but think of Menken's movements in front of Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie in Mood Mondrian.  
Marie Menken, Untitled, [1951], oil, sequins, shells, and phosphorescent paint on masonite, 12 x 18 inches. Not signed, not dated.
So what do we know of Menken the painter? As Crase summarises in Both: A Portrait in Two Parts:

In Menken, Dwight had spotted a companionable eccentric who shared his love of colour and expressed it, as did he, in unusual ways and with unorthodox media. Menken was known initially not for her films but for her paintings she made from sand and other nontraditional materials. Her first show opened at the Betty Parsons Gallery in November 1949 (the show that followed hers was Jackson Pollock's), and her paintings were described before the opening by F.Y.I, the employee newsletter of Time,Inc., where she worked as a night clerk on the overseas cable desk. According to F.Y.I., her paintings were made from "stone chips, stone powders, marble chips, marble dust, ground silicate, sand, cement dust, luminous paints, glass particles, glues and lacquers, occasionally string and fiber. " So Dwight was perhaps right to call these paintings desertipicti; the species epithet means "of the Painted Desert." Menken had a second show at Betty Parsons in February 1951, and her third, held at Tibor de Nagy the following month, featured Pollock-like swirls of phosphorescent paint that glowed in the dark. (182-3)
Crase notes Menken's show's received the usual, cursory mention in the New York art press (all shows received brief, paragraph long reviews in Art News or Art Digest), where it was deemed "decorative." Judging from last years Tate conference, the main value of the history Crase and the images here outline is to evidence something of the scope, presence and quantity of Menken's paintings. 

From the reproductions, I begin to discern a frame of reference: to the scrawl, ideograph and writing (Klee), the use of materials like sand (Masson), the role of gesture as it configured in abstract expressionism. Her use of found materials, the flat surface of the picture frame, and bright phosphorescent colour further confirms a sense of Menken's work as being both inside of outside tendencies we might now identify with Pop and Minimalism.  
Without the paintings themselves to examine, one key source is the titles - a full list of which, from the 1949 Betty Parsons show is reproduced here. Menken's titles for her paintings - often written on labels on the back - at the very least reveal something of her process, and examples of what grabbed her attention. 

Doctor Coon's Ghar Hotu, for example, derives from the report of Dr. Carleton "Cannonball" Coon's discovery of prehistoric hominid remains in North Iranian cave of Ghar Hotu in "Diggers," which appeared in Time, May 7, 1951. The full text of this article is online here

Marie Menken, Doctor Coon's Ghar Hotu, 1951, oil, sand, and thread on masonite, 11 ½ X 21 inches.
The meaning of IF EARTH IN EARTH DELIGHT is unpacked below. The following are an edited version of Douglas Crase's notes from our e-mail conversation Nov-Jan 2008-09:
Menken's paintings are . . . "idiosyncratic" is the word likely to be employed. She experimented with sand, string, glass--like a Julian Schnabel aforehand, though on a human scale.  The paintings are on masonite (board), not canvas.  Except for one, which is on brown paper that has been crumpled, rubbed with what appears to be colored pencil, and then stretched more-or-less flat again.  The masonite, at least in the case of IF EARTH, appears to have been trimmed by hand–which explains the irregular edges of the image I sent you. 

Marie Menken, God's in Her Heaven, 1948, ink and colored pencil on crumpled paper, 16 x 12 ½ inches.

The paintings on masonite, including IF EARTH IN EARTH DELIGHT, are stuccoed with sand, strings, beads, glass, etc. They are not all so brown as IF EARTH.  One is mostly green, as I remember, another reddish.  Another has Pollock-like swirls of phosphorescent paint studded with tiny shells. I did not know it was phosphorescent until one night I went into the dark basement where all the Ripley stuff was being unpacked . . . and got quite a start. 

It seems pretty clear Menken liked the play of light, just as she says somewhere. Because of the raised and encrusted surfaces of the paintings the light dances or changes patterns according to your angle of viewing–even in the work made from dull crumpled paper. 

While Martina [Kudlacek] was making her documentary of Menken, she preserved for Anthology Film Archives footage Menken shot in Guadix Spain [Gravediggers of Guadix]  during the same 1958 trip with Kenneth Anger which resulted in her Arabesque for him at the Alhambra. The Guadix footage is unforgettable. Spooky monks, who look like they will retire to their cells to flog themselves or each other, are repetitively spading, spading, spading the red Spanish earth . . . and Menken's camera goes to that earth as if it can't help itself.  

The effect, I remember, is exactly as you say about her camera: it's stop-start, momentum infused with the potential of interruption, lingering and delay. I even seem to remember that the earth hits the lens at some point....

The comparison to IF EARTH IN EARTH DELIGHT is dramatic. The painting was shown at Betty Parsons in 1951 and the film wasn't shot until 1958 but in each the texture, the color, the granularity–even in a way the non-translucent limits of the dull, unreflective medium of earth–are made to do a lot of esthetic work on our behalf. Put this similarity together with her George Herbert title (it's from the poem "The Priesthood") and one could work up a whole exegesis. Speculative, but then, she's the one that picked the title. 

The stanzas in the middle, where the title comes from, are so much to the point that she could not have been innocent of them.  "Yet have I often seen, by cunning hand / And force of fire, what curious things are made / Of wretched earth." And next:

But since those great ones, be they ne'er so great,
Come from the earth, from whence those vessels come;
So that at once both feeder, dish, and meat,
Have one beginning and one final sum:
I do not greatly wonder at the sight,
        If earth in earth delight.
Regarding Glimpse of the Garden, Crase observes: 
The garden where Glimpse of the Garden was made was, of course, an "English" rock garden in style, even if the plants were largely from the North American west. Menken, having met Ripley and Barneby in 1943, would have known that garden from the day it was first spaded to its apotheosis as a sanctuary of rare species. So there could be history as well as momentary perception in her camera's attention.

Marie Menken, (TOP:) A Green Dream, 1946, oil, sand, glass, and thread on masonite, 13 x 13 inches; (BELOW:) Ten Cents' Worth of Tears, 1954, oil, sand, beads, and thread on masonite, 9 3/4 x 13 3/8 inches. 
As for the the acknowledgment "with thanks to Dwight Ripley for the garden and romaine."  Ripley financed Menken's trip to Brussels (and perhaps he paid for the film and other supplies, as well).  If you think of "romaine" as "lettuce," which is slang for money, then suddenly the thanks are timely and not redundant.
Ripley and Barneby's library is full of books by and about English gardeners. Ripley's early influence, as you probably saw, was Reginald Farrer. Clearly, wherever Ripley went, he was trying to re-create the English country house of which present-day movie-makers can only dream. Menken's film is deeply indebted to the history and traditions of the English rock garden, was practically made in one, while the accents she heard at breakfast drinks and dinner in the house where she was staying were as posh English as they could be. POSTED BY 

Who’s Afraid of an Artist Who Loved Flowers?

“Notes on Marie Menken” shines a quavering if welcome ray of light on a largely forgotten figure in the American avant-garde film scene of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, a strange, unwieldy figure who, moreover, happened to be the inspiration for that harridan of all times: Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Until now, if you had wanted to know about Marie Menken, a Brooklyn-based exhibited painter turned experimental filmmaker, whose sphere of influence included not just Edward Albee but also Stan Brakhage and that ageless enfant terrible Kenneth Anger, your search would have been mostly relegated to the margins. She pops up a few times in P. Adams Sitney’s history of American avant-garde cinema, “Visionary Film,” and makes minor appearances in books about Andy Warhol, in part because of her gargoyle-like appearance in his 1966 dual-screen epic, “The Chelsea Girls.” Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and beaded necklace, her eyes nearly swallowed up by the puffy swells of her face, Ms. Menken strikes a singularly unglamorous, obstreperous note in the film: the Superstar as babushka.
She was in her mid-50s when she appeared in “The Chelsea Girls” and easily looked 20 years older. By then she had shot a number of ephemerally beautiful, short personal films, some of which she bundled together with deliberate casualness and called “Notebook.” Her nominal subjects in these and other films were seemingly straightforward and simple — a nodding flower, a droplet of rain on a leaf, showily patterned tiles, a gurgling fountain, pigeons tracing loops across the sky — but only in the way that everyday life is straightforward, simple and profound. You feel Ms. Menken’s presence in every gently trembling shot, which seems to quiver with the excitement of life, as if she were discovering the world anew in each image.
The joyfulness of those images feels at odds with that bloated figure presented by Warhol in “The Chelsea Girls.” Martina Kudlacek, the director of “Notes on Marie Menken,” isn’t all that big on the finer points of biography, so the viewer is left more or less alone to bridge the apparent divide between the filmmaker and her work. There are clues, including her husband’s homosexuality. Ms. Menken might have been happy in her marriage to the filmmaker and writer Willard Maas, but it’s hard not to think that there was some pain mixed in with all that bohemian free loving and living. Certainly the couple’s monumental boozing and arguing, which inspired Mr. Albee so memorably, suggests that there might have been some self-medication in the mix.
In his touching Village Voice obituary for Ms. Menken, who died in 1970 at 61 after a short illness, Jonas Mekas wrote: “There was a very lyrical soul behind that huge and very often sad bulk of a woman, and she put all that soul into her work. The bits of the songs that we used to sing together were about the flower garden, about a young girl tending her flower garden. Marie’s films were her flower garden. Whenever she was in her garden, she opened her soul, with all her secret wishes and dreams. They are all very colorful and sweet and perfect, and not too bulky, all made and tended with love, her little movies.”
What Mr. Mekas doesn’t mention is that the title subject in one of Ms. Menken’s earliest films, “Glimpse of the Garden,” belonged to one of her husband’s former male lovers. (This intimate connection might explain why the film is not titled “Glimpse of a Garden.”) There is something terribly moving about this biographical detail, which goes unmentioned in the documentary as well, because it suggests a generosity of soul — or, perhaps, more rightly, an insistence on life and self-affirmation — already evident in Ms. Menken’s images. Behind these delicate yet resilient, unmistakably feminized flowers, we intuit someone who could find beauty in the world, no matter how badly that world might have treated her. And not just find beauty, but also return it to the world, though on her own emphatic terms.
Ms. Kudlacek omits much: she never tells us whether Ms. Menken formally studied art (she did, including at the Art Students League); it’s even unclear if she and Mr. Maas had any children. The death of a child is mentioned almost in passing in the film, but in a published interview Mr. Anger, who lived with the couple for a short time, mentions visits from a son.
Still, salient details and observations emerge in the documentary, principally through interviews with the likes of the painter and filmmaker Alfred Leslie and especially the poet and photographer Gerard Malanga, who studied with Mr. Maas and whose tender recollections of Ms. Menken suggest that, while any biological children remain shrouded in mystery, there were loving surrogates nonetheless. Marie Menken’s garden bloomed, and not only on film.

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