(Emma Allen’s article appeared in The New Yorker, 8/29.)

Jack Smith has been described as “the only person I would ever copy” (by Andy Warhol); “the only true underground filmmaker” (John Waters); and “the godfather of performance art” (Laurie Anderson). He appeared in Warhol movies and in Robert Wilson productions; his campy films and performances, with their mummies, mermaids, and harems of veiled drag queens, influenced the work of Matthew Barney, Cindy Sherman, and Ryan Trecartin, to name a few. So how come you likely haven’t heard of him?


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