Framework 56.1 – Warren Sonbert: Selected Writings. Now Available from Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media

Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media has just released its latest issue devoted entirely to the writings of avant-garde artist Warren Sonbert. The journal features reproductions of Sonbert's original typed, handwritten and published documents. The issue is guest edited by Jon Gartenberg and is organized into sections related to Sonbert's interests in art, music, poetry, travel and film.

Below is an excerpt from Jon Gartenberg's introduction to the issue entitled A Delicate Balance: Warren Sonbert's Creative Legacy:

"For the very first time, a selection of writings by filmmaker Warren Sonbert is assembled together in this special edition of Framework. Although known primarily as an experimental filmmaker, Sonbert and his career extended deeply into other realms of the creative arts. He was an opera, music, and film critic; a kindred spirit to the Language poets; a screenplay author who adapted Strauss’s 1940–41 opera Capriccio; a collaborator on other filmmaker’s productions (Gerard Malanga’s In Search of the Miraculous [US, 1967] and Charles Henri Ford’s Johnny Minotaur [US, 1971]); an essayist on both the fine and performing arts; and a leading theoretician on cinematic montage. The objective of these collected writings, then, is to expand the narrow categorization of Sonbert as a now- deceased, marginalized experimental filmmaker into a broader reconsideration of his entire creative career. This endeavor should serve to reposition his legacy as a truly Renaissance thinker who articulated, in both profound and coherent fashion, how diverse forms of artistic expression can be so deeply connected to the human condition. 

Even for students of film history who are familiar with Sonbert’s cinematic output, the texts assembled in this publication are sure to be a revelation. “Film Syntax,” Sonbert’s most renowned essay, which so lucidly articulates his unique theory of montage, has been printed numerous times in various publications. Aside from this text, however, the other articles authored by Sonbert and reproduced herein are from more obscure publications or now defunct journals, including Shiny, Motion Picture, Tikkun, CinemaNews, Spiral, and the NY Film Bulletin. In addition, numerous unpublished notes, reflections, and essays that were authored by Sonbert—both handwritten and typed—have been gathered together to be published for the first time in this journal…

…We have organized Sonbert’s writings into the following broad classifications: art, travel, music, poetry, and film. These are not designed to be rigid categoriza- tions, but rather as points of departure to demonstrate Sonbert’s facility in his dialogue between all the art forms. Our inclusion of the travel category represents the central role Sonbert’s own journeys across time and space—both physical and creative—played in the development of the artist’s own practice of his craft.9 Only in considering Sonbert’s entire creative output as a coherent entity—filmed, written, and spoken, as well as his lived experiences through travel—can we truly appreciate his genius both as an artist and humanist."


GME is the exclusive representative of the estate of Warren Sonbert. For more information on the Warren Sonbert project see our programming page.