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Daily Dose Pick: Harry Smith

Based on a 2001 symposium at the Getty Research Institute, Harry Smith: The Avant-Garde in the American Vernacular surveys the artist’s influence on American film, music, and the visual arts.

Featuring color reproductions of Smith’s images, as well as essays by scholars, friends, and colleagues, the book explores the life of the 20th-century Renaissance man best known for his definitive Anthology of American Folk Music — a six-record compilation of commercial songs from 1926-1932 that helped facilitate the folk revival of the ’60s. The multifaceted mystic also achieved cult-hero status in the world of cinema for his experimental films, and received critical praise for his rare, freeform abstract paintings.

Download a sampling of public-domain songs from the Anthology of American Folk Music, visit the Harry Smith Archives online, and buy a copy of the book.


Hy Hirsh (American, 1911-61), Harry Smith with his “brain drawings,” San Francisco, ca. 1950. © Harry Smith Archives. From Harry Smith, Getty Publications.


Harry Smith, Study for Film #9: Prelude and Fugue, ca. 1950. Whereabouts unknown. © Harry Smith Archives. From Harry Smith, Getty Publications.

Harry Smith, Still from Film #11: Mirror Animations, ca. 1957, 3 min. 35 sec., 16 mm, color, sound. ©Harry Smith Archives. From Harry Smith, Getty Publications.


Harry Smith, Still from Film #18: Mahagonny, 1970-1980 (restored 2002), 141 min., 35 mm, color, sound. © Harry Smith Archives. From Harry Smith, Getty Publications.


Harry Smith, Still from Film #18: Mahagonny, 1970-1980 (restored, 2002), 141 min. 35 mm, color, sound. © Harry Smith Archives. From Harry Smith, Getty Publications.


Harry Smith, Manteca, ca. 1948. Painting of “Manteca,” Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra, ca. 1947. Whereabouts unknown. © Harry Smith Archive. From Harry Smith, Getty Publications.


Harry Smith, Untitled, ca. 1950-51, mixed media on board, 59.7 x 60.3 cm (23 1/2 x 22 3/4 in.). Collection of Cherry Karou Hulsey. © Harry Smith Archive. From Harry Smith, Getty Publications.

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