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Markopoulos, Gregory


Nationality: American. Born: Toledo, Ohio, 12 March 1928. Education: University of Southern California. Career: Completed first experimental films, 1948; lecturer on film at University of Athens, Greece, 1954–55; worked on Serenity, 1955–60; writer on film, from early 1960s. Died: 13 November 1992.

Films as Director:


Du sang de la volupté et de la mort (trilogy comprising Psyche, Lysis, and Charmides)


The Dead Ones


Flowers of Asphalt




Arbres aux champignons






Twice a Man


The Death of Hemingway


Galaxie; Through a Lens Brightly: Mark Turbyfill; MingGreen


Himself as Herself; Eros, O Basileus; The Iliac Passion; Bliss; The Divine Damnation; Gammelion




Index Hans Richter




Doldertal 7; Hagiographia; 35 Boulevard General Koenig



Quest for Serenity, New York, 1965.

A Bibliography Containing the Marvelous Distortions of My Films asReviewed in Books, Programs, Periodicals, and Newspapersduring Thirty-three Years: 1945–1978, St. Moritz, 1978.

By MARKOPOULOS: articles—

"On Serenity," in Film Culture (New York), Summer 1961.

"Toward a New Narrative Form in Motion Pictures," in FilmComment (New York), Fall 1963.

Interview with Robert Brown, in Film Culture (New York), Spring 1964.

"Random Notes during a Two-Week Lecture Tour of the United States," in Film Culture (New York), Fall 1964.

"The Driving Rhythm," in Film Culture (New York), Spring 1966.

"From 'Fanshawe' to 'Swain'," in Film Culture (New York), Summer 1966.

"'Galaxie' (Production and Critical Notes)," in Film Culture (New York), Fall 1966.

"The Film-maker as Physician of the Future," in Film Culture (New York), Spring 1967.

"Gregory Markopoulos: Free Association—Rough Transcription for Paper on Levels of Creative Consciousness," interview with David Brooks, in Film Culture (New York), Summer 1967.

"Correspondences of Smells and Visuals," in Film Culture (New York), Autumn 1967.

"Index to the Work of Gregory Markopoulos, Years 1967/70," with Jonas Mekas, in Film Culture (New York), Spring 1971.

"The Adamantine Bridge," in Film Culture (New York), Spring 1972.


Sitney, P. Adams, Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde1943–1978, New York, 1979.

Hanhardt, John G., Matthew Yobosky, Whitney Museum of American Art, and John G. Handhardt, The Films of Gregory J.Markopoulos, New York, 1996.

On MARKOPOULOS: articles—

Filmwise 3 & 4: Gregory Markopoulos, Spring 1963.

Kelman, K., "Portrait of the Young Man as Artist: From the Notebook of Robert Beavers," in Film Culture (New York), no. 67/69, 1979.

Ehrenstein, David, "The Markopoulos Affair," Film Comment (Los Angeles), July-August 1993.

Beavers, Robert, and Paul Smith, "Markopoulos in Passing," in FilmComment (New York), November-December 1993.

Beauvais, Yann, "Kenneth Anger, Gregory Markopoulos et Jean Genet," in Vertigo (Paris), January 1996.

Sitney, P.A., "Man of Myth," in Village Voice (New York), 12 March 1996.

Jones, K.M., "Gregory J. Markopoulos: Whitney Museum of American Art," in Artforum, Summer 1996.

* * *

Gregory J. Markopoulos made his first film (a version of A Christmas Carol) in 1940 with a borrowed 8-millimeter silent movie camera. By the time he left the University of Southern California in 1947, he completed a trilogy titled Du sang de la volupté et de la mort (comprising Psyche, Lysis, and Charmides). His first 35-millimeter film was The Dead Ones in 1948. With these beginnings, Markopoulos became one of the best-known of the avant-garde of the post-World War II period, although his output in the 1950s was limited to four films—Flowers of Asphalt, Arbres aux champignons, Eldora, and Serenity. Elements of homoeroticism pervade many of the Markopoulos experiments and they are as audacious and outrageous as the works of Adolfas and Jonas Mekas. In his trilogy, a battering ram becomes a phallic symbol. When the film was shown to a class at New York University in 1951, it caused Henry Hart, then the far-right editor of Films in Review magazine, to berate professor George Amberg for allowing it to be shown. Hart described some of the images included in the films—"a male nipple, a painted and coiffeured male head, a buttock . . . and quite a few suggestions that abnormal perceptions and moods are desirable." Markopoulos soon became a much talked-about and controversial filmmaker.

The first Markopoulos film of the 1960s was Serenity, a drama about the Greco-Turkish War of 1921–22, shot in Greece and released in 1962. This was followed by Twice a Man, a recreation of the Greek myths of Hippolytus, Phaedra, and Asclepius dealing openly for the first time (for Markopoulos) with male homosexuality.

Galaxie consisted of 30 three-minute 16-millimeter silent clips of his friends (Parker Tyler, Jonas Mekas, W. H. Auden, Allen Ginsberg, Shirley Clarke, Maurice Sendak, Susan Sontag, and Gian Carlo Menotti, among others) with an electronic "clang" ending each segment as the only sound on the film. Markopoulos's subsequent films are in 16-millimeter.

Single-frame editing and superimpositions were used in Himself as Herself, a strange film about a half man/half woman shot in and around Boston and released in 1967. In March of that year, Eros, O Basileus appeared, consisting of nine sequences involving a young man representing Eros. The Markopoulos Passion, a dramatic movie filmed over a three-year period, was finally released in 1968 as The Iliac Passion, a version of the Prometheus legend set in New York City.

Until 1981, he resided in St. Moritz, and there published a 1978 folio titled A Bibliography Containing the Marvelous Distortions of My Films as Reviewed in Books, Programs, Periodicals and Newspapers during Thirty-three Years: 1945–1978. He continued to be a presence in the avant-garde film movement until his death in 1992.

—James L. Limbacher

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