Suzan Pitt

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Suzan Lee Pitt (July 11, 1943 – June 16, 2019)[1][2] was an American film animator and painter, whose surreal, psychological animated films and paintings have been acclaimed and exhibited worldwide.

Early life[edit]

Pitt was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and studied painting at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, graduating with a BFA in 1965. In the late 1960s, based in New York, Pitt began experimenting with cutout animation using an 8 mm camera, completing her first short film Bowl, Garden, Theatre, Marble Game in 1970.[3]


Her best-known film, Asparagus, took four years to make, and debuted as part of an installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1979. The installation included the movie-theater set piece used in the film, which held an audience of 15 people.[4][5] Asparagus also screened with David Lynch's Eraserhead for two years on the midnight movie circuit.[2]

Throughout the 1980s Pitt designed animated projections for various theatrical projects, in particular two groundbreaking operas in Germany: The Magic Flute for the Staatstheater Wiesbaden in 1983 and The Damnation of Faust for the Staatsoper Hamburg in 1988.[6] In addition, she created large-scale multimedia shows, including a collaboration with John Cage at Harvard University in 1976 and at the Venice Biennale in 1980.[4]

Pitt's honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2000, a Creative Capital Moving Image Award in 2005, a Rockefeller Fellowship, and three production grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.[7][8][9] She received a retrospective screening at the Museum of Modern Art in 2017, and a Lifetime Achievement Award at Animafest Zagreb in 2019.[10][11]


In 1984 and again in 2016, Pitt created editions of hand-painted coats, sold through designer Patricia Field.[12] Pitt also created silk-screen T-shirts printed with an original design, sold through WilliWear Productions by Willi Smith in 1984.[13]


Pitt was an associate professor at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard from 1988 through the early 1990s. Starting in 1998, she taught in the Experimental Animation program at the California Institute of the Arts for nearly twenty years, living in Los Angeles and Taos, New Mexico.[14][2]


The Academy Film Archive has preserved several of Pitt's films, including Joy Street, Asparagus, Whitney Commercial, Crocus, and Bowl, Garden, Theatre, Marble Game.[15]


  • Bowl, Garden, Theatre, Marble Game – 1970 (16mm, color, 7 min.)
  • Crocus – 1971 (16mm, color, 7 min.)
  • A City Trip – 1972 (16mm, color, 3 min.)
  • Cels – 1972 (16mm, color, 6 min.)
  • Whitney Commercial – 1973 (16mm, color, 3 min.)
  • Jefferson Circus Songs – 1973 (16mm, color, 16 min.)
  • Asparagus – 1979 (35mm, color, 18 min.)
  • Joy Street – 1995 (35mm, color, 24 min.)
  • El Doctor – 2006 (35mm, color, 23 min.)
  • Visitation – 2011 (digital (from 16mm), b/w, 8 min 50 seconds.)
  • Pinball – 2013 (digital, color, 7 min.)


  1. ^ "Suzan Pitt, 75, Wildly Inventive Animation Filmmaker, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Robinson, Chris (18 June 2019). "Suzan Pitt, Influential American Director Of Animated Films, Dies At 75". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  3. ^ Canemaker, John (1 January 1979). "Suzan Pitt: Moving, Changing, and Animating" (PDF). John Canemaker's Animated Eye. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  4. ^ a b Leger, Jackie (February 1997). "Suzan Pitt: An Animator's Journey". Animation World Network. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  5. ^ Buchan, Suzanne (11 July 2018). "The Animated Female Body, Feminism(s) and 'Mushi'". In Smith, Vicky; Hamlyn, Nicky (eds.). Experimental & Expanded Animation. Springer. p. 206. ISBN 978-3319738734. Retrieved 18 June 2019 – via GoogleBooks.
  6. ^ Chris Robinson (3 June 2010). Animators Unearthed: A Guide to the Best of Contemporary Animation. A&C Black. pp. 81–. ISBN 978-0-8264-2956-8.
  7. ^ "MoMA Salutes Creative Capital, Supporter of Risk-Taking, Experimental Artists, with an Exhibition". Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  8. ^ "Famed Painter and Animator Suzan Pitt Dies at 75". Animation World Network. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  9. ^ "El Doctor". Creative Capital. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  10. ^ "An Evening with Suzan Pitt". Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  11. ^ "Animafest Zagreb Lifetime Achievement Award Winner". Animafest Zagreb. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  12. ^ "Notes on Fashion". New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  13. ^ Silva, Horacio (2020). "Artventure". In Cunningham Cameron, Alexandra (ed.). Willi Smith: Street Couture. New York: Rizzoli Electa. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-8478-6819-3.
  14. ^ "Suzan Pitt: Visitation". AnOther Magazine. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  15. ^ "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive. Retrieved 18 June 2019.

External links[edit]