Jonas Mekas (American/Lithuanian, b. December 24, 1922) is a filmmaker, poet, teacher, and archivist. He is most well-known for his work in furthering the Avant-garde film movement in America. After escaping a Nazi labor camp in Germany, Mekas attended the University of Mainz, where he studied philosophy. While there, he and his brother Adolfas (Lithuanian, 1925–2011) lived in a refugee camp and were exposed to films. One film in particular, The Search, would influence their thoughts about films and their meanings. In 1949, they were given status as United Nations refugees and were relocated to New York City. To escape their boredom and loneliness, they watched as many films as possible. This exposed Mekas to a variety of classic and emerging film styles. It wasn't long before he had purchased his own camera to film his life and the world around him, using this experience as practice. Mekas became a part of the film community and one of the major influences in a culture that he would dub New American Cinema.

The brothers started the landmark magazine, Film Culture, in 1954. Mekas would also earn respect via his regular movie journal column that appeared in Village Voice. He would film his first movie, The Guns of Trees, in 1962. Mekas’s other notable films include The Brig, Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania, Lost Lost Lost, Paradise Not Yet Lost, and He Stands Alone in a Desert Counting the Seconds of His Life.

Over the course of his life, he has written over 20 poetry books; his Lithuanian poetry is considered to be classical literature in his home country. His film archive, Anthology Film Archives, is considered one of the most important in the United States. In 1974, Mekas married Hollis Melton, and the couple would eventually have two children, Oona and Sebastian. He currently lives and works in New York City. He marched in the Occupy Wall Street protests that occurred in October 2011.

Timeline

1922
Born in Semeniskiai, Lithuania
1977
Guggenheim Fellowship
1996
Doctor of Fine Arts, Honoris Causa, Kansas City Art Institute

Exhibitions

2015
Jonas Mekas, Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg, Germany
2014
Jonas Mekas, Fondzione Morra, Naples, Italy
2013
Panel and screenings, International House Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
2013
Out-Takes from the Life of a Happy Man, The Houston Cinema Arts Festival in conjunction with Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston, Texas, United States
2013
Retrospective, Osterreichische Filmmuseum, Vienna, Austria
2013
Jonas Mekas, DOX Centre of Contemporary Art, Prague
2013
I Lift My Glass of Wine to You, My Vienna Friends!, Krinzinger Projekte, Vienna, Austria
2013
DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague MUAC, Mexico City, Mexico
2013
Jonas Mekas, Melbourne Festival, Australia
2013
Jonas Mekas, Bozar (The Centre of Fine Arts), Brussels, Belgium
2013
Films and exhibition, State Hermitage Mseum, St. Petersburg, Russia
2013
Installation and films, Kiasma Museum for Contemporary Art, Helsinki
2013
Jonas Mekas, Paris Photo, Deborah Colton Gallery, Los Angeles, California, United States
2013
Screening of Out-takes from the Life of a Happy Man, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., United States
2013
A Retrospective of Jonas Mekas, Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston, Texas, United States
2013
LIFE GOES ON…I KEEP SINGING, Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston, Texas, United States
2013
Retrospective, The Cinémathèque Royale, Brussels, Belgium
2012
Images out of Darkness, James Fuentes Gallery, New York Serpentine Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2012
Prisiminimai is Vokietijos, Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center, Vilnius, Lithuania
2012
Reminiszenzen aus Deutschland, Stadtmuseum, Wiesbaden
2012
The 365 Day Project, 2B Gallery, Budapest, Hungary
2012
Musique Plastique, agnes b. Howard Street boutique, New York, New York, United States
2012
Portraits: Jonas Mekas and Robert Polidori, Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York, New York, United States
2012
Jonas Mekas, Fotofest 2012 Biennial, Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston, TX
2011
This Side of Paradise, agnes b. Rue du Jour boutique, Paris, France
2011
Musique Plastique, agnes b. Galerie du jour, Paris b. Howard Street boutique, New York, New York, United States
2011
Portraits: Jonas Mekas and Robert Polidori, Edwyn Houk Gallery, New York, New York, United States
2010
To New York with Love, Bas Fisher Invitational, Miami, Florida, United States
2010
Cassis, James Fuentes Gallery, New York Armory Show The Brucennial, New York, New York, United States
2009
Destruction Quartet, Kings County Biennial, Brooklyn, New York, United States
2009
To New York with Love, Bas Fisher Invitational, Miami, Florida, United States
2009
Jonas Mekas, Gallery Toki no Wasuremono, Tokyo, Japan
2009
Destruction Quartet, James Fuentes Gallery, New York, New York, United States 1989, Kunsthalle Wien
2009
The Beast, FIAC art fair, The Film Gallery, Paris, France
2009
A Few Things I Want to Share with You, My Paris Friends,” agnes b. Galerie du jour, Paris, France
2009
1968, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany
2008
Chemical City, Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston, Texas, United States
2008
Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany
2007
Contemporary Art Center, curated by Phong Bui, Long Island City, NY
2007
Chemical City (curated by Liutauras Psibilskis), Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston, Texas
2007
"Jonas Mekas: The Beauty of Friends Being Together Quartet”, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York.
2007
www.jonasmekas.com, Solo Exhibition, Maya Stendhal Gallery, November to February,
2006
"Jonas Mekas: Solo Exhibition", Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Center, UK.
2006
Giving Visibility (curated by Liutauras Psibilskis), Miami Beach Cinematheque for Art Basel Miami Beach, Florida
2006
Jonas Mekas: Home Videos (curated by Liutauras Psibilskis), IBID PROJECTS, London, Great Britain
2006
Jonas Mekas: Destruction Quartet (curated by Liutauras Psibilskis), Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney, Australia
2006
"Jonas Mekas: Solo Exhibition, Sketch Gallery, London.
2006
"He Stands in the Desert Counting the Seconds of His Life", Tamayo Contemporary Art Museum, Mexico City.
2006
Jonas Mekas: The Importance of Small and Personal in the Times of Bigness (curated by Liutauras Psibilskis), Zamek Ujazdovski, Warsaw, Poland
2006
Jonas Mekas (curated by Liutauras Psibilskis), Monach University Art Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
2006
"Jonas Mekas, Film Screenings", Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC.
2006
Jonas Mekas: The Importance of Small and Personal in the Times of Bigness (curated by Liutauras Psibilskis) Baltic Art Center, Visby, Sweden.
2006
"The Expanded Eye", Kunsthaus Zurich.
2006
"Onestar Stop", Galerie Erna Hòcy, Brussels.
2005
"Balance and Power- Performance and Surveillance in Video Art". Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, IL.
2005
"Thank You for the Music", Spruth Magers Projeckte, Munich.
2005
"Jonas Mekas", (curated by Liutauras Psibilskis) Contemporary Art Center Vilnius (CAC).
2005
Jonas Mekas, The Importance of Small and Personal in the Times of Bigness, Lithuanian Pavilion, Venice Biennale (curated by Liutauras Psibilskis and Lolita Jablonskiene), Venice, Italy
2005
"Repetitions", Maya Stendhal Gallery, New York, Group Show; "Fragments of Paradise", Solo Exhibition, Maya Stendhal Gallery
2004
Diary Film, Moderna Museet (curated by Liutauras Psibilskis and Magnus Af Petersens), Stockholm, Sweden.
2003
"Fables de L'Identitò", Centre National de la Photographie, Paris.
2003
"Jonas Mekas: Frozen Films Frames", Maison Europòene de la Photographie,Paris.
2003
"Frozen Film Frames", Sideshow Gallery, Williamsburg Brooklyn.
2003
La Biennale di Venezia. Installation at the Utopia Station Pavillion
2003
"Jonas Mekas: A Camera for Jonas". "To Petrarca Who Walked Over the Hills of Provence" and a 24 hour video installation, "Dedication to Ferdinand Lòger". Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
2002
Documenta 11, Kassel.
2002
Maison Europòenne de la Photographie, Paris.
2000
"Laboratorium", Antwerpen Open, Antwerp.
2000
"VoilÌ- Le Monde dans la T®te", Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Films and Installations.
1998
Gandy Gallery, Prague.1999: Susan Inglett Gallery, New York.1999: Pupelis Gallery, Obeliai.
1998
"Le Printemps de Cahors", Musee de Cahors Henri-Martin, Cahors.
1997
Madrid Art Fair
1996
Still Gallery, Edinburgh.1996: Laurence-Miller, New York.1997: Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo.
1992
Galerie du Jour Agnes B., Paris.
1992
Galerie National du Jeu de Paume, Paris.