80 Washington Square East, NYU

Ken Jacobs

Up The Illusion

April 15 – November 26, 2023

*Broadway Windows gallery

80WSE is pleased to present Up The Illusion, a momentous survey exhibition celebrating the 90th birthday of Ken Jacobs, one of our most iconic and indefatigable moving image artists. Curated by Andrew Lampert, this street level exhibition features a panoramic selection of Jacobs’ nearly 70 years of pioneering films and digital videos in the Broadway Windows gallery located on the corner of Broadway and E. 10th Street.

Dating from the mid-1950s through today, and unfolding over the course of seven months, the thematically organized works displayed in each window will evolve over the course of the exhibition, spotlighting the wildly divergent aspects of the artist’s prolific output. This is the first exhibition to feature Jacobs’ largely unseen drawings alongside his critically acclaimed moving image works. Experienced side-by-side, the painterly concerns and qualities at the heart of Jacob’s distinctive multimedia approach are brought firmly into the foreground.

Called “one of the most extraordinary unknown personalities in the history of American movies” by critic J. Hoberman, Ken Jacobs (b.1933) is a key figure in the history of experimental cinema. A native New Yorker, Jacobs studied painting with Hans Hofmann in the early 1950s before embracing filmmaking and performance as his primary mediums. A central figure in the underground film movement of the 1960s, Jacobs’ decades of restless output includes more than forty motion pictures and dozens of live performance pieces made with both his self-invented double 16mm “Nervous System” projection apparatus and his nearly indescribable, almost intergalactic “Nervous Magic Lantern.” Since embracing video in 1999, he has produced well over 150 space, time and perception bending pieces that transpose his formal and 3D explorations into the digital dimension.

Curated by Andrew Lampert  
Commissioned by Howie Chen, 80WSE   

*Broadway Windows gallery is a series of five street-level display windows located at the corner of Broadway and East 10th Street. The installations can be viewed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Still from Sky Socialist 2, Environs and Outtakes (1964/2019, Regular 8mm)
Photo: John Matturri
Untitled Drawing by Ken Jacobs, 2022