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   Albert and David Maysles Papers, 1948-2008

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Albert and David Maysles Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).
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Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.:MS#1544
Bib ID:7966635 View CLIO record
Title:Albert and David Maysles Papers, 1948-2008
Physical description:132.5 linear feet (106 boxes)
Language(s):In English
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. This collection has no restrictions.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

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Description

Scope and Content

Correspondence, memoranada, agreements, notes, contracts, posters, clippings, financial files covering the entire career of the Maysles brothers.

Series I: Films

Series II: Commercial Work

Series III: MFI Accounting and Financial Files

Series IV: Uncatalogued Boxes

Series V: Archived Website

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Using the Collection

Offsite

Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

      offsite requestMore information and link to off-site request form

This collection has no restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Albert and David Maysles Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Papers processed 5/2/1999 mmb

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion December 21, 2016 Finding aid written in English.
    2016-12-21 File created.
    2017-03-30 Archived Website series added by Jane Gorjevsky

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

HeadingCUL Archives:
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CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
GenrePortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Beatles.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Brando, Marlon.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Capote, Truman, 1924-1984.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Christo, 1935-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Documentary films.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Door-to-door selling--Film.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Experimental films.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
GeographicPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Horowitz, Vladimir, 1903-1989.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Independent filmmakers.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Jeanne-Claude, 1935-2009.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Maysles, Albert.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Maysles, David.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
OccupationPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Rolling Stones.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Albert Maysles (1926-2015) and his brother David (1932-1987) were groundbreaking non-fiction filmmakers. Inspired by the French "ciné́ma vérité", they created "direct cinema": films in which the action unfolds naturally, without narration or intrusive artifice. The visceral impact of this form of cimema had a great influence on subsequent documentary filmmaking. Their best-known films include "Salesman" (1969), "Gimme Shelter" (1970) and "Grey Gardens" (1976).

Born in Boston to Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, Albert received his B.A. at Syracuse and his M.A. at Boston University where he taught Psychology for three years. In 1955 Albert travelled to Russia where he filmed patients at several mental hospitals. The result of this trip was his first documentary: "Psychiatry in Russia". In 1957, Albert and David made a motorcycle journey from Munich to Moscow. This trip resulted in their first collaborative effort, "Youth in Poland", about a student revolt in Warsaw. They managed to sell the film to NBC.

The brothers worked with unobtrusive film and sound equipment: Albert was the cinematographer and David recorded the sound. By simply following the actions of their subjects they were able to get very close to reality in their art.

As a trained psychologist, Albert had a capacity to understand the various dynamics at play in any given situation. The brothers believed that the film tells its own story; and by using a direct style of filming the viewer has a feeling that they are actually there, watching events unfold. Albert understood that it was his artistic sensibility that shaped and informed the viewer's understanding of the subject he was filming.

In 1962, the brothers established Maysles Films. Since their documentaries did not generate much revenue, they made money by making television commercials for large corporations like IBM and Merrill Lynch.

The brother filmed many artist and musicians: the Beatles; the Rolling Stones; Marlon Brando; Truman Capote; Christo and Jeanne-Claude; Vladimir Horowitz; Seiji Ozawa; and Iris Apfel.

After David passed away in 1987, Albert continued to make documentaries on a variety of subjects. Albert's last released film was "The Love We Make" (2011), about Paul McCartney's 2001 appearance at the Concert for New York following the attacks on the World Trade Center. Albert Maysles' final films -- "Iris", about Iris Apfel the 93-year-old fashion icon, and "In Transit", about riders on Amtrak's Empire Builder -- were released posthumously in 2015.

In 2006, Albert founded the Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem. The Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the exhibition and production of documentary films that inspire dialogue and action.

Albert Maysles died at his home in Manhattan on March 5, 2015, aged 88.

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