Newspaper article International New York Times

Peter Hutton, Art Filmmaker, Dies at 71

Newspaper article International New York Times

Peter Hutton, Art Filmmaker, Dies at 71

Article excerpt

All of Mr. Hutton's films were silent. Generally devoid of camera movement and montage, they suggest sketchbooks or photographic albums.

Peter Hutton, an experimental filmmaker noted for contemplative, sensuous, masterfully photographed portraits of landscapes and cities, died on Saturday in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He was 71.

The cause was cancer, his wife, Carolina Gonzalez-Hutton, said.

Mr. Hutton, who made his first films in the early 1970s, spent over four decades bringing motion pictures back to the moment when the Lumiere brothers invented the medium in the 1890s.

All of his films were silent. Generally devoid of camera movement and montage, they suggest sketchbooks or photographic albums. Many are reveries in which the only animation in a precisely balanced composition might come from a wayward breeze or a slight shift in illumination. Most of his films were voluptuously monochromatic. (Mr. Hutton himself was mildly colorblind.)

In a 1978 interview with Sightlines magazine, Mr. Hutton described his films as "diaristic without being autobiographical." Beginning with "July '71 in San Francisco, Living at Beach Street, Working at Canyon Cinema, Swimming in the Valley of the Moon" (1971), shot when he was a student at the San Francisco Art Institute, his films were largely defined by place. Locations included Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, China and Iceland, as well as several American cities. The most elusive and melancholy of city symphonies, his three-part "New York Portrait," was shot mainly in the late '70s and early '80s but not completed until 1990.

"Budapest Portrait (Memories of a City)" (1984-86) epitomizes Mr. Hutton's austerely romantic worldview. It is a half-hour succession of moldering apartment houses and massive factories populated by lonely Stalinist monuments and revolutionary ghosts. …

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