The collection includes manuscripts and printed documents related to the development and programming of Vogel’s revolutionary Cinema 16 film club and the New York Film Festival, as well as thousands of notes, photo stills, and promotional materials for films viewed or screened by Vogel. The archive also features notes and slides from Vogel’s university lectures and his unorthodox film history, Film as a Subversive Art (1974), along with Vogel’s correspondence with notable film enthusiasts including John Cage, Elia Kazan, Dwight MacDonald, Arthur Miller, Nelson Rockefeller, and Upton Sinclair.
“It was only in the late 1940s and early 1950s that film began to be viewed in America as a medium for serious artistic practice,” said Richard Peña, Director of the New York Film Festival and a film studies professor at Columbia. “Amos Vogel was at the heart of this development; first with Cinema 16—America’s best and most influential film club—and later with the New York Film Festival. Vogel celebrated films and filmmakers that changed the way Americans thought about movies. His papers are a veritable treasure trove of insights, details and information charting this evolution, and they are also invaluable record of an important aspect of New York’s cultural life.”
Born in Vienna in 1921 to a left-wing Jewish family, Vogel was forced to flee with his parents to New York City in 1938, following the Nazi annexation of Austria. Vogel and his wife Marcia founded the non-profit film club Cinema 16 in 1947, frustrated by the dearth of New York theaters willing to screen experimental or avant-garde film. Cinema 16 went on to introduce American audiences to the work of Luis Buñuel, John Cassavetes, Roman Polanski, and Alain Resnais, and at its peak had a membership of over 6,000.
Vogel co-founded the New York Film Festival with Richard Roud in 1963 and served as its program director until 1968. In the years following the groundbreaking publication of Film as a Subversive Art, Vogel was awarded a chair for film studies at the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught for two decades and served as director of the Annenberg Cinematheque.
The Library can provide users with limited access to the Vogel papers while they are being processed. Patrons should make an appointment by calling the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at 212-854-5153.
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The Rare Book and Manuscript Library owns over 500,000 rare books in some 20 book collections and almost 28 million manuscripts in nearly 3,000 separate manuscript collections. It is particularly strong in English and American literature and history, classical authors, children’s literature, education, mathematics and astronomy, economics and banking, photography, the history of printing, New York City politics, librarianship, and the performing arts. Individual collections are as eclectic as they are extensive.