The Museum of Modern Art will feature the films of Charles Burnett throughout the month of April.
Burnett has long borne the dubious distinction of being, as critic Armond White observed, “the least well-known great American filmmaker.” In Charles Burnett: Interviews (University Press of Mississippi, 2011), Burnett cites the phrase “the power to endure” as a motif his films share with William Faulkner’s novels; the phrase applies equally well to the indomitable characters who inhabit Burnett’s cinema, and to Burnett’s own struggle to get his films made in accordance with his vision.
Each of Burnett’s films can be seen to chronicle some aspect of the black experience in America, offering black and white audiences alike a moving representation and triumphant appreciation of African American culture, with a strong emphasis on both the rewards and burdens of family. It should be evident from the films presented inthis retrospective that Burnett is a talent deserving of a much larger audience.
The exhibition is made possible by The Friends of Education of The Museum of Modern Art.