Essay by Jaroslav Andel.
Published by Torst
Born in 1907, Alexandr Hackenschmied is one of the founders of modern Czech photography and film. He is better known here as Sasha Hammid, the name he took upon becoming a United States citizen in 1947, having fled Nazi persecution in his native Czechoslovakia in 1939. Since then he and his wife, Maya Deren, have played a key role in American avant-garde film. Both by himself and in collaboration with other artists, Hackenschmied made a number of important documentaries--including the 1964 film To Be Alive!, made with Francis Thompson, which was awarded an Oscar for Best Documentary in 1967. His photographic work, though less well known here, is equally worthy of praise. In it we see his dynamic conception of space--honed with years of experience as a cameraman and editor--and the combination of formal perfection with deep emotional resonance, the meeting of the artist's mind with the mind of the audience.
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