Search the Collection


Hollis Frampton (American, 1936–1984)


Medium 16mm film; black-and-white, sound; 36 min. Measurements No Measurements Credit National Endowment for the Arts Purchase Grant for the Acquisition of Films by Living American Film Makers, and Director's Discretionary Fund with Monies Given by the Women's Committee Accession Number 77.24.26 Location Not on View


Nostalgia is a key work by a major figure in the history of American avant-garde filmmaking. Hollis Frampton was a precocious child, as ambitious as he was brilliant. In 1958 he moved to New York City, at first sharing an apartment with painter Frank Stella and sculptor Carl Andre, with whom he had attended Phillips Andover Academy in Massachusetts. Frampton worked briefly in painting and then turned to photography, which had interested him since childhood. By the early 1970s, he was working primarily in film. The images for Nostalgia were made by burning thirteen of Frampton's favorite photographs, including his portraits of Andre and Stella, on a primitive hotplate. On the screen each print comes gradually to life with a wisp of smoke; circular scorch marks appear, made by the burner as it eats into and obliterates the photograph; finally only ashes remain twisting on the hotplate. This destruction of a still image in order to make a moving image clearly demonstrates Frampton's shift from photography to filmmaking. Frampton wrote voice-overs for the thirteen photographs, the texts ranging from the theoretical to the personal and anecdotal, including references to friends and acquaintances. As one photograph burns, the voice-over for the next photograph—as yet unseen—is heard, and so each image is first established through the use of language. The distance and relationship between language and image is a major concern for Frampton, as is memory. Frampton evokes his own past in the film, while requiring the viewer to remember each text until its related image appears. Nostalgia is thus an essay on human consciousness as revealed in language and image, in desire and anxiety, in personal and cultural memory.

Artist Bio

December 16, 1971
Ernie Gehr
272 Degraw Street
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11231
Dear Ernie:
Many thanks for your good letter to me, and such a thorough information sheet. I’m very sorry to be so long in answering you, things have simply piled up here lately. Ernie, we are completely programmed for the rest of thi3 season so will not be able to consider having you here for a screening and lecture until after next September. However, what I mentioned to Michael was that as soon after the l3t of the year as possible we are planning to send out a letter from our newly established film makers workshop offering it as a teaching facility to any film maker who wishes to teach (workshop, seminar or whatever). You will write up course descriptions, fee, dates, etc. We will publicize, then if enough students sign up, you fly into town and teach, if not, nothing is lost - everyone stands to gain. Various members have spare beds and are willing to house those who come, so no expense there either. We see it as a really good thing. You teach what you like (your speciality) they take what they like etc., etc., etc. The workshop includes 2 still labs, 8, super 8 and l6mm editing equipment (a Somembeck horazontal editor), sound mixing stuff, a fandberg and an animation stand.
I haven’t seen "Serene Velocity” yet Ernie, but keep hearing from Hollis, Michael & Stan Brakhage how very beautiful it is - so I’m eagerly looking forward to it.
Have a lovely holiday and do please forgive the delay in hearing from me. Sincerely,
Sally F. Dixon (Mrs.) Film Coordinator