Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Finally “Farber on film: The Complete Film Writings of Manny Farber”, (edited by Robert Polito) was published by The Library of America, including all his film writings (he had general writings on art and painting, too) for The Nation, The New Leader, New Republic, Cavalier, etc.
Manny Farber, whom Jonathan Rosenbaum calls him "the greatest by far of all American film critics", was also a painter, teacher and carpenter. He was born in Douglas, Arizona, February 20, 1917 and died last year at the age of 91. He taught art classes in Washington, D.C. and California. Joined the New Republic as film and art critic, replacing film critic Otis Ferguson. Stayed at the New Republic until 1946, later (1949) joining The Nation, when his friend and long-time colleague, James Agee, departed for Hollywood. Also worked for Time for several months of 1949. Left The Nation in 1954; then, in 1957, went over to The New Leader, staying on until 1959. Wrote for Cavalier in 1966. Has contributed various essays and interviews to Art News; Commentary (which printed perhaps his most famous article, Underground Films); Commonweal; The American Mercury; Prospectus and Film Comment.
In 1970 Praeger published a larger collection of his film criticism, Negative Space. He married to another painter and occasionally film critic, Patricia Patterson, in 1976. Farber wrote his last piece in 1977 and then went into a long retirement.
I’ve posted nearly 11 Manny Farber articles from 1940s to 1960s (including a part of his famous “White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art”) in this blog. My main aim was filling the gap between the new generation of film readers and Farber’s works, that were completely absent from the public scene. Now that the book has been appeared it doesn’t seem necessary to continue posting his writings. I think now is the time to focus on another underrated film critic with a gigantic knowledge of art of filmmaking, Raymond Durgnat, whose writings are catastrophically unavailable on the web or in print.