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Profile: Jack Chambers
Affiliated Movements: Contemporary Art. Minimalism, Earth Art

Affiliated Artists:
Hollis Frampton
Stan Brakhage


* The placement of other artists in the same category is purely for didactic purposes - any number alternate criteria could result in a different choice. This list is chosen by suggesting other artists, mostly working at the same point in time and whose work might evoke similar questions in the viewer.

André Breton- condensation cube


Jack Chambers - Jack Chambers, Victoria Hospital, 1970Jack Chambers, Victoria Hospital, 1970

Jack Chambers (March 25, 1931–April 13, 1978) began his career as a painter and ended it as influential avant-garde filmmaker. Progressively shifting toward realism in his artwork, Chambers’ early paintings were heavily influenced by surrealism; he described his work as ‘perceptual realism,’ which combined memories and dreams with existentialist philosophy. After being diagnosed with leukemia in 1969, Chambers’ painting became increasingly more realistic.

In the 1960s, Chambers began working with both black and white and color film. His films are montages of his domestic life meshed with found imagery from his hometown of London, Ontario. His films point to the contrast between nature and society. Stan Brakhage called Chambers The Hart of London one of the greatest films ever made.”


Late Career Paintings
Jack Chambers - The 401 Towards London, 1968The 401 Towards London, 1968
Jack Chambers - Wharncliffe Bridge, 1970Wharncliffe Bridge, 1970
Jack Chambers - Lake Huron I, 1971 Lake Huron I, 1971
Jack Chambers - Lake Huron I, 1971 Lake Huron3, 1972 Jack Chambers - the Earth Room - Dia Foundation New YorkLombardo Avenue, 1972 Jack Chambers - the Earth Room - Dia Foundation New YorkSunday Morning 2, 1970
Jack Chambers - Lunch 1971Diego Reading, 1970 Jack Chambers - Lunch 1971Lunch, 1971 Jack Chambers - Lunch 1971Mums, 1970


Other Works

Jack Chambers - Diego Drawing, 1972Diego Drawing 1972
Jack Chambers - the Earth Room - Dia Foundation New YorkFigs 1970
Jack Chambers - the Earth Room - Dia Foundation New YorkGrass Box 1970











Experimental Film - Studies on Celluloid.

Jack Chambers: The Hart of London, Part 1 of 9
Jack Chambers: The Hart of London, Part 2 of 9
Jack Chambers: The Hart of London, Part 3 of 9
Jack Chambers: The Hart of London, Part 4 of 9
Jack Chambers: The Hart of London, Part 5 of 9
Jack Chambers: The Hart of London, Part 6 of 9

Like Circle, The Hart of London combines archival newsreels with original footage while adding an undercurrent of simmering violence to the mix. Superimposing found images of a deer being trapped and killed in downtown London with antiquated images of the city in industrial transition (trolleys and automobiles share the street with horse-drawn carriages), Chambers re-creates an urban history that is original, expansive, and severe. As a parallel to the thematic motif of the persecuted deer, Chambers introduces chilling colour footage of lambs being slaughtered (photographed on a return visit to Spain) at the film's midway point. Chambers writes, "In the second part of the film [these slaughterhouse] images become symbolic of the pursuit and death of the deer. This theme is repeated again and again in the real images of everyday life." (5) These "real images" include several staged, mechanical spectacles (a teenager diving into an icy river, crowds gathering to observe a brush fire), as well as repetitive, banal daily activities (a man trimming his hedges, Chambers cutting his lawn). The consistent tension generated and sustained over the course of its demanding length, without the aid of musical cues or voice-over exposition, demonstrates why The Hart of London is considered Chambers' greatest cinematic achievement. Fred Camper, for instance, identifies The Hart of London as "one of those rare films that succeeds precisely because of its sprawl." (6) Stan Brakhage, meanwhile, has described The Hart of London as one of "the few GREAT films of all cinema - 'great' in the meaning of the word which suggests the breadth and depth it contains within the length it supports." (7)


5. Jack Chambers, "Hart of London," London Film Co-op, distribution catalogue.

6. Fred Camper, "The Hart of London, a film by Jack Chambers," link below.

7. Stan Brakhage, from a letter reprinted in Tom Graff, ed., "Notebooks and Ideas," Jack Chambers' Films, ed. Tom Graff, The Capilano Review 33 (1984): p. 43. (His emphasis).

from Brett Kashmere's article Jack Chambers, published in Sense of Cinema's Great Directors








written and edited by JWD


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