March 21, 2023

Annette Michelson, Film Studies Pioneer and Journal Founder, Dies at 95

Not everyone was a fan. The conservative social commentator Roger Kimball, writing in 1988 in The New Criterion about the newly published compilation “October: The First Decade,” called the journal a leading example of a phenomenon in which “arcane, pseudo-philosophical jargon and radical sentiment compete to forestall genuine engagement with aesthetic or intellectual issues.”

Detractors aside, the journal remains influential, and Ms. Michelson’s writings, Professor Liebman said, “became formative, ‘must’ reading for the first generation of film studies scholars.”

In 2015, when Ms. Michelson donated her papers to the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, Thomas W. Gaehtgens, its director, said she had “played a hugely significant role in the advancement of scholarship in avant-garde visual culture, especially film, around the world.”

She leaves no immediate survivors.

Ms. Michelson did not just write about films; in 1980 she acted in one, Yvonne Rainer’s “Journeys From Berlin/1971,” playing a woman undergoing psychoanalysis.

Professor Krauss recalled another time when Ms. Michelson displayed her exploratory side.

“Working closely with Annette has been a continual broadening of my own horizons,” she said. “At one point Annette became fascinated with the Structuralist paleontologist Leroi-Gourhan” — André Leroi-Gourhan, who studied cave paintings. “That summer Annette and I drove through southern France to many of the caves.”

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