Marie Menken Biography

Marie Menken was born in New York City on May 25, 1909. Her parents were Catholic Lithuanian immigrants. She grew up in Brooklyn in a home with financial difficulties. Menken met and married William Maas in 1937. Before becoming a filmmaker, in 1945, Menken was an abstract painter and collage artist.

Menken worked with her husband on a variety of short, experimental films, which helped create the New York underground film scene. The films were marked by her lyricism, grace, and simplicity. She was on the scene as the New York avant-garde film world evolved. Menken kept up with the changes that were happening during the 1960s. Both Menken and Maas were members of 'Gryphon-Group' and the 'New American Cinema.' Her first film was Visual Variations on Noguchi. She kept a film diary, which surfaced in her film Notebook, in 1963. Andy Warhol and other artists were influenced by her style and eventually Menken appeared in a few of Warhol's films.

Menken is considered one of the most pioneering experimental and feminist filmmakers. She died on January 2, 1971, and her husband died four days later. Martina Kudlacek made a film about Menken titled Notes on Marie Menken. The film shows a glimpse into Menken's social and artistic struggles.


Arsenal Experimental. (n.d.) Marie Menken. Retrieved from

Dixon, W. (2007). Notes on Marie Menken. Film & History (03603695), 37(2), 78-79. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

Icarus Films. (2010) Notes on Marie Menken. Retrieved from

--Gabriella De Abreu, 2010.

Marie Menken