Jon Gartenberg is President of Gartenberg Media Enterprises (GME). His company restores and distributes libraries of classic and avant-garde films, and archives of publishing and photographic assets.
For 18 years he worked as a curator in the film archive of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he acquired, catalogued, and preserved films for the permanent collection. His signature projects include restoring the films of Andy Warhol and editing the published catalog of MOMA’s archival film collection.
On an international level, Gartenberg has curated numerous film exhibitions, lectured extensively, and written many articles relating to film history and archiving, ranging in subject from D.W. Griffith to experimental cinema. Active in the International Federation of Film Archives, Gartenberg was a member of its Cataloguing Commission from 1982-1991.
Following his career in the cultural sector, Gartenberg entered the business world, working at Broadway Video Entertainment and then at Golden Books Family Entertainment. He refurbished libraries of “B” movies and classic American television shows such as Saturday Night Live, Underdog, Lassie, and the Lone Ranger, for both international home video distribution and television broadcast. He also assembled extensive accompanying libraries of production records, film stills, scripts, and merchandising memorabilia. At Golden Books, he developed a comprehensive plan for modernizing the storage and access to a unique archive of published books, original artwork, and prepress film.
Currently, Gartenberg’s own company, Gartenberg Media Enterprises (GME) identifies, recovers, and disseminates libraries of moving images for a variety of clients. These clients range from film archives to commercial entities, and from celebrity personalities to avant-garde filmmakers. Through this process, GME uniquely enhances the value of these intellectual property assets. Among other projects, GME has consulted with the Nederlands Filmmuseum on their vast collection of American film holdings and with Steeplechase Films on their vintage collection of footage of New York City. In addition, GME has rescued celluloid assets abandoned by corporate entities; after an extensive identification, inspection, and cataloguing process, these libraries of films have been sold to various cultural institutions, among them the Packard Humanities Institute and the Library of Congress in the United States, the National Film and Sound Archive (Australia), and the Cinemateca Portuguesa (Lisbon) as well as numerous other European institutions.
GME exclusively represents the Estates of photographers Hugh Bell and Raimondo Borea. The company organizes and catalogues their archives and then identifies cultural institutions to acquire these collections for long term preservation purposes. GME also organizes exhibitions and presentations of these artists’ works in the United States and abroad and licenses their photographs for an array of publications.
GME has also been involved in reviving the publishing assets of schools and educational institutions, including the Bank Street College of Education, which also resulted in the recovery of significant amounts of unpaid royalties. GME has also developed and implemented a project to catalogue and digitize the historic photo, document, and moving image archives of the Spence School. GME has consulted on the archiving of moving image works by an array of experimental artists, including the Trisha Brown Dance Company, Beryl Sokoloff, and Cathy Weis.
Gartenberg was the Program Director for the Film Preservation Project of the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS. In this capacity he produced the completion of the final film of experimental filmmaker Warren Sonbert, entitled Whiplash, which had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival in 1997. He guest curated a career retrospective exhibition of this filmmaker at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City (1999), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, (2000), the Beaubourg Museum in Paris (2002), and the Vienna Filmmuseum (2005). In 2010, he created a retrospective touring program of Sonbert’s films that has been shown at the Art Gallery of Ontario (2012), the Cinemateca Portuguesa (2012), International House, Philadelphia (2013), the Tate Modern (2013), the Belgian CINEMATEK (2015), and the Wexner Center for the Arts (2016). In 2013, GME sold Warren Sonbert’s 16mm work reels and extensive archive of writings to Harvard University.
Gartenberg was a juror on the Faces of Love film festival in Moscow (2000) and worked as a consultant on the Allan Dwan retrospective at the Locarno Film Festival (2002). He served as the experimental film programmer for the Tribeca Film Festival from 2003 - 2014, where he built a legacy of curating a strong representation of independent and experimental works, a number of which have garnered festival prizes. Gartenberg curated a centerpiece retrospective for the 50th anniversary of the Pesaro Festival of New Cinema in 2014, entitled “A Panorama of American Experimental Narratives in the New Millennium”, that has also traveled to the 8th Athens Avantgarde Film Festival in Greece, as well as the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
He also advises cutting-edge filmmakers on the economics of American experimental film production, distribution and exhibition, and has authored an article about this subject (“The Fragile Emotion”) for the book entitled Swimming Upstream (2008). His groundbreaking article, “The Fragile Emulsion”, about the preservation of experimental film, has been published in both the FIAF Journal of Film Preservation as well as the AMIA journal Moving Image, and is used in teaching curriculum for archival programs.
GME actively distributes an extensive curated collection of DVDs, comprising classic silent films, documentaries, and experimental works, to a wide range of universities all throughout North America. In a production capacity, Gartenberg has served as an archival consultant on various film projects, and GME has licensed avant-garde artists’ creations for television productions, including PBS documentaries on Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, and the history of New York, as well as broadcasts on Arte and other European broadcast channels. Gartenberg has also produced films by experimental filmmakers Ken Jacobs and Jeff Scher.
Send e-mail to: Jon Gartenberg