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Anthony McCall
Like many artists of the 1960s and 70s, Anthony McCall was drawn to film because it allowed him to document ephemeral performance work and extend his interest in time-based art and "art process" into a new domain.

Soon, however, he began to explore the possibilities of film itself, independent of the events he was using it to record. This interest in the nature of cinema distinguished him from scores of other artists who made films during the same period, and dovetailed with the aesthetic preoccupations of the avant-garde film world. He thus became part of the growing independent, experimental film culture whose approach to the medium was distinct in many ways from that of the gallery-based art world.

The differences between these two spheres of film art are suggested by a curious label that has often been used to describe McCall: "artist and filmmaker." Recent work on McCall has engaged the former more than the latter. Since the inclusion of his film Line Describing a Cone (1973) in the Whitney Museum's exhibition "Into the Light: The Projected Image in American Art, 1964-1977," his films have been the object of a new surge of critical attention from the art world. And his recent return to filmmaking after a thirty year absence has mainly occupied the gallery. Hence, current scholarship on his films emphasizes the broad art historical context in which they were made: the milieu of Minimalist and Conceptual Art, the expanded arts scene, and the art world's cinematic turn beginning in the 1960s.

The importance of this context for McCall's films is undeniable. But it becomes much more illuminating when focused "through the lens" of contemporaneous avant-garde film culture in Europe (especially England, where McCall lived until 1973) and the U.S. McCall's career as an "artist and filmmaker" reflects the complex interrelationship of the art world and the film world.

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Line Describing a Cone (1973, installation view) by Anthony McCall
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