Tate Modern Film

Shape and structure

​Paul Glabicki Object Conversation 1985, film still. Courtesy Canyon Cinema

Discover the work of avant-garde animators including Paul Glabicki, Robert Russett and Barry Spinello 

While structural film was the dominant form within the avant-garde tradition at the dawn of the 1970s, animators used shape and structure in a variety of ways that differentiated their works. Robert Russett composed geometric patterns and colour sequences in complex rhythms to create his pulsing, abstract films. Paul Glabicki created incisive, analytical works that explored objects through image, language, form and movement, drafting stunningly complicated sequences by hand. Barry Spinello’s films are also hand-drawn but more impressionistic, with blobs of colour flashing by to the rhythm of a primitive, handmade optical soundtrack. With Saugus Series, Pat O’Neill created several chapters of complex, layered imagery that was ‘animated’ through physical processes of composition such as optical printing, hand-drawn shapes and composites.

Please note that this programme contains stroboscopic images.


Bruce Conner, Ten Second Film, USA 1966, 16mm, black and white, silent, 1 min
Print courtesy the Conner Family Trust and Kohn Gallery, © Conner Family Trust

Peter Rose, Incantation, USA 1970, 16mm, colour, sound, 8 min
Print preserved by the Academy Film Archive, courtesy the artist

Paul Glabicki, Object Conversation, USA 1985, 16mm, colour, sound, 10 min
Print courtesy Canyon Cinema

Robert Russett, Primary Stimulus, USA 1980, 16mm, colour, sound, 8 min
Print preserved by the Academy Film Archive

Paul Glabicki, Diagram Film, USA 1978, 16mm, colour, sound, 14 min
Print courtesy Canyon Cinema

Robert Russett, Neuron, USA 1972, 16mm, colour, sound, 7 min
Print presered by the Academy Film Archive

Barry Spinello, Colored Relations, USA 1970, 16mm, colour, sound, 5 min
Print courtesy Canyon Cinema

Pat O’Neill, Saugus Series, USA 1974, 16mm, colour, sound, 18 min
Print courtesy Canyon Cinema

Tate Modern

Starr Cinema

London SE1 9TG
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Date & Time

18 February 2017 at 14.30–16.30