Willard Maas

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Willard Maas
Born (1906-06-24)June 24, 1906
New York
Died January 2, 1971(1971-01-02) (aged 64)
Occupation Experimental filmmaker, poet
Spouse(s) Marie Menken

Willard Maas (June 24, 1906 – January 2, 1971) was an American experimental filmmaker and poet.

Personal life and career[edit]

He was the husband of filmmaker Marie Menken. The couple, married in 1937, achieved some renown in New York City's modern art world from the 1940s through the 1960s, both for their experimental films and for their salons, which brought together artists, writers, filmmakers and intellectuals.[1]

According to their associate, Andy Warhol, "Willard and Marie were the last of the great bohemians. They wrote and filmed and drank—their friends called them "scholarly drunks"—and were involved with all the modern poets."[2]

In the 1960s, Maas was a faculty member at Wagner College and an organizer of the New York City Writer's Conference at the college where Edward Albee was a writer in residence. The filmmaker Kenneth Anger indicates that Maas and Menken may have been a significant part of the inspiration for the characters of George and Martha in Albee's 1962 play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.[3]

Letter: Andy Warhol to Willard Maas, April 14, 1966, Willard Mass may have been involved in shooting scenes of Chelsea Girls very early on, as there seems to have been in his (Williard's) possession four rolls of "torture sequence" which Andy Warhol did not want made public."The 'Their Town' segment of The Chelsea Girls featured a script by Ron Tavel based on an article, 'The Pied Piper of Tucson,' in Life Magazine in March 1966 about a serial killer" - warholstars.org"When on 15 September, the day Chelsea Girls opened at the Cinematheque,Warhol upbraided Malanga for not getting copies of all the film ... Jonas Mekas wrote in the Village Voice: It's our godless civilization approaching the zero point. ... I found three of the most extraordinary sequences of the cinema I've ever seen,' said the filmmaker Shirley Clarke. ... Yes there is sex, yes there is domination and cruelty and torture and everyone hates everyone else and let's beat them to death" - Warhol: The Biography By Victor Bockris - page 258

Maas died on January 2, 1971, four days after Menken had died of an alcohol-related illness. He was cremated.

The Maas/Menken materials and letters are located at the University of Texas at Austin. A selection of these items is on deposit/loan (in Trust) at the Anthology Film Archives in New York. The Willard Maas Papers—a collection of approximately 500 letters, manuscripts, page proofs, photographs, drawings, play scripts, and film scripts from the period 1931-67—is housed at Brown University.[4]


As director[edit]

  • 1943 - Geography of the Body (with Marie Menken)
  • 1955 - The Mechanics of Love (with Ben Moore) original zither score by John Gruen
  • 1943-48 - Image in the Snow
  • 1956 - Narcissus (a film poem by Ben Moore and Willard Maas)
  • 1966 - Andy Warhol's Silver Flotations
  • 1967 - Orgia

As cinematographer[edit]

  • 1955 - Dionysis (directed by Charles Boultenhouse, co-cinematography by Menken)
  • 1956 - Narcissus

As actor[edit]

  • 1965 - A Valentine for Marie (directed by John H. Hawkins)


  1. ^ EAI website
  2. ^ EAI website entry
  3. ^ Scott McDonald, A Critical Cinema: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers (University of California Press, 1988)
  4. ^ Brown University Library entry

External links[edit]