Smith Unfinished

By

Published April 19, 2011

As a pioneer of film editing, experimental theater, drag, and the sartorial deployment of glitter, Jack Smith (1932–1989) was without parallel. While his films—especially the infamous Flaming Creatures (1963), which was denounced in Congress—are foundational to art-house cinema, his photographs are relatively unknown. This month, curator Neville Wakefield organizes a show of his work at Gladstone Gallery, which acquired Smith’s long-contested estate. “Preparing for the exhibition brought up all sorts of interesting challenges about how you preserve someone’s legacy almost against their will,” says Wakefield. He traces the provocateur’s ongoing influence by asking artists A.L. Steiner, Ryan McNamara, and T.J. Wilcox to interpret Smith’s unfinished scripts and memos.