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Guide to the David X. Young Films, 1955-2007

Abstract

Collection consists of 8mm and 16mm films, videocassettes, compact discs, and audiocassettes, deriving from artist David X. Young's work in New York City, Cape Cod, and Haiti. His New York work includes films of W. Eugene Smith working in his loft studio in 1971, as well as experimental films dating from the 1950s to the 1980s. Homemade audiocassette mix tapes document Young's interest in jazz as well as his piano playing. Videocassettes consist of reference copies of several films and television programs on W. Eugene Smith. This collection is part of the Archive of Documentary Arts. Original recordings are closed to research access pending reformatting.

Descriptive Summary

Title
David X. Young films
Creator
Young, David X., 1930-2001
Extent
12.5 linear feet, Seven boxes of film reels, one box of video- and audio-cassettes, and one box of CDs and DVDs.
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

The David X. Young Films, 1955-2007, includes film reels, videocassettes, and audiocassettes produced primarily by artist David X. Young between 1955 and 1996, in New York City, Cape Cod, and Haiti. Although transferred to the Archive of Documentary Arts at the Rubenstein Library in 2012, the collection was originally acquired from Young’s estate by the Center for Documentary Studies, for use by Sam Stephenson in his research on W. Eugene Smith for the book The Jazz Loft Project (2010). As a consequence, nearly half the collection is comprised of materials relating to Young’s involvement in the production of "Let Truth Be The Prejudice," a half-hour documentary on Smith produced by CBS in 1971, as part of its Lamp Unto My Feet series. These materials include a composite print of the final 28-minute program, un-synced picture and soundtrack reels not used in the final program, and videocassette and disc copies of the reels created by the Center for Documentary Studies in 2007.

The balance of the collection consists primarily of elements related to film projects created by Young between 1955 and 1986, including Klaximo, Seven Haitian Moods, Duck Season. Many of the elements in the collection, representing these and other projects, were spooled--put together on one reel--to facilitate video transfer previous to the films being acquired by the Center for Documentary Studies.

In addition to these films, the collection contains nine audiocassette tapes, including radio broadcasts of music and spoken-word material, as well as one recording of David X. Young playing piano, and four VHS videocassette tapes, from television broadcasts of programs on W. Eugene Smith.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Original audiovisual materials are closed to use. Use of these materials may require production of listening or viewing copies. Please contact a reference archivist before coming to use this collection.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48-hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Audiovisual, 1955-2007

97.0 Items

The Audiovisual Series is arranged in seven subseries. Four of these reflect film projects Young worked on for which there is existing descriptive information, either provided by Young or by the content of the films themselves, and for which there are discrete reels that do not contain clips from other projects. These include Seven Haitian Moods, Klaximo, Let Truth Be the Prejudice, and The Duck Season. The remaining three subseries contain film reels and video and audio media that do not fit clearly into any particular project -- for the subseries "Other film reels" this is due, in part, to the "spooling" of reels together to facilitate video transfer. In some, but not all, cases the titles in this subseries reflect the different clips on each spooled reel.

Original audiovisual materials are closed to use. Use of these materials may require production of listening or viewing copies. Please contact a reference archivist before coming to use this collection.

Seven Haitian moods, 1986

2.0 Items

Seven Haitian Moods began as one of David X. Young's first projects involving film, and started when he first visitied Haiti as part of a Fulbright grant in 1955. Young would continue working on the film over the next four decades. This series contains two silent 16mm reels, the "A" and "B" rolls of Seven Haitian Moods. The soundtrack has not been identified among the sound reels in the collection.

Original audiovisual materials are closed to use. Use of these materials may require production of listening or viewing copies. Please contact a reference archivist before coming to use this collection.

16mm original, 1986
(30.0 minutes)
Box 3
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0003
16mm original, 1986
(30.0 minutes)
Box 3
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0004

Klaximo, 1963

2.0 Items

David X. Young made Klaximo in response to what he saw as a growing tendency to replace humans with machines, as a reaction to "industrial eroticism" even as it seemed to conform to that genre: "For one thing, I hate the term industrial eroticism. It's an oxymoron. I made Klaximo as protest against that very notion. The idea that machines or computers could better the idiosyncrasies of the human psyche. The big problem was to convey the illusion convincingly, which of course meant erotically. And it was largely a mise en scene editing and rhythm problem. It was a challenge just like painting a leafy tree in certain lights is a challenge. No other difference. I don't see anything avant garde about it. I think it is too clear for that category." This series contains two silent 16mm reels, the "A" and "B" rolls, of Klaximo. The soundtrack has not been identified among the sound reels in the collection.

Original audiovisual materials are closed to use. Use of these materials may require production of listening or viewing copies. Please contact a reference archivist before coming to use this collection.

16mm original, 1963
(28.0 minutes)
Box 3
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0002
16mm original, 1963
(28.0 minutes)
Box 5
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0001

Let truth be the prejudice, 1971, 2007

47.0 Items

Let truth be the prejudice was the title of W. Eugene Smith's major retrospective at the Jewish Museum in 1971. A 27-minute film of the same name was shot by David X. Young and produced by CBS for its long-running series Lamp Unto My Feet, which featured programs on religion and the arts. Along with soundman Hugh Little, Young recorded over two hours of footage of Smith working in the Jazz Loft studio at 821 6th Ave. in New York City, as well as at the Jewish Museum, as he and his assistants (including Aileen Mioko Sprague, who would soon marry Smith) prepared for the show. This series contains the final 16mm composite print, as well as 16mm picture and full coat magnetic sound outtakes from 1971. Also included are video and audio preservation and use copies created by Vidipax for the Center for Documentary Studies in 2007, for use by Sam Stephenson in the research for his book The Jazz Loft Project. Note that the original picture elements have not been matched to their corresponding sound elements, and that the preservation and use copies, excepting the final 16mm composite, have not been synchronized with their corresponding video or audio.

Original audiovisual materials are closed to use. Use of these materials may require production of listening or viewing copies. Please contact a reference archivist before coming to use this collection.

Composites

3.0 Items
16mm original, circa 1971
(28.0 minutes)
Box 6
Film-reel RL10002-F16OS-0001
Betacam video preservation master, 2007
(29.0 minutes)

CBS documentary on Smith, footage of loft;footage of processing prints; footage of stills, Smith commenting on his career and philosophy, war experiences, photojournalism; The Nurse Midwife essay; Pittsburgh essay; migrant workers; Albert Schweitzer; exhibit Let Truth Be The Prejudice W. Eugene Smith, photographer; Produced by Joe Clement; .

Box 9
Video-cassette RL10002-Bcam-0001
DVD video use copy, 2007
(29.0 minutes)
Box 8
Video-disc RL10002-DVD-0001

Picture elements

26.0 Items
16mm original, circa 1971
Box 1
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0005
Betacam video preservation master, 2007
(15.0 minutes)
Box 9
Video-cassette RL10002-Bcam-0002
VHS video use copy, 2007
Box 9
Video-cassette RL10002-VHS-0001
DVD video use copy, 2007
(15.0 minutes)
Box 8
Video-disc RL10002-DVD-0003
DVD video use copy, 2007
(69.0 minutes)
Box 8
Video-disc RL10002-DVD-0002
16mm original, circa 1971
(16.0 minutes)
Box 1
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0006
16mm original, circa 1971
(25.0 minutes)
Box 6
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0007
Betacam video preservation master, 2007
(25.0 minutes)
Box 9
Video-cassette RL10002-Bcam-0003
VHS use copy, 2007
Box 9
Video-cassette RL10002-VHS-0002
DVD video use copy, 2007
(25.0 minutes)
Box 8
Video-disc RL10002-DVD-0004
16mm original, circa 1971
(26.0 minutes)
Box 6
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0008
Betacam video preservation master, 2007
(26.0 minutes)
Box 9
Video-cassette RL10002-Bcam-0004
VHS use copy, 2007
Box 9
Video-cassette RL10002-VHS-0003
DVD video use copy, 2007
(26.0 minutes)
Box 8
Video-disc RL10002-DVD-0005
DVD video use copy
(81.0 minutes)
Box 8
Video-disc RL10002-DVD-0008
16mm original, circa 1971
(23.0 minutes)
Box 6
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0009
16mm original, circa 1971
(23.0 minutes)
Box 6
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0010
Betacam video preservation master, 2007
(24.0 minutes)
Box 9
Video-cassette RL10002-Bcam-0005
VHS use copy, 2007
Box 9
Video-cassette RL10002-VHS-0004
DVD video use copy, 2007
(24.0 minutes)
Box 8
Video-disc RL10002-DVD-0006
DVD video use copy
(81.0 minutes)
Box 8
Video-disc RL10002-DVD-0008
16mm original, circa 1971
(25.0 minutes)
Box 6
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0011
16mm original, circa 1971
(28.0 minutes)
Box 6
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0012
16mm original, circa 1971
(28.0 minutes)
Box 6
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0013
Betacam video preservation master, 2007
(32.0 minutes)
Box 9
Video-cassette RL10002-Bcam-0006
VHS use copy, 2007
Box 9
Video-cassette RL10002-VHS-0005
DVD video use copy, 2007
(32.0 minutes)
Box 8
Video-disc RL10002-DVD-0007
DVD video use copy, 2007
(81.0 minutes)
Box 8
Video-disc RL10002-DVD-0008
16mm original, circa 1971
(9.0 minutes)
Box 7
Film-reel RL10002-F16MAG-0001
CD audio preservation copy
Box 8
Audio-CD RL10002-CD-0001
16mm original, circa 1971
(14.0 minutes)
Box 4
Film-reel RL10002-F16MAG-0002
CD audio preservation copy
Box 8
Audio-CD RL10002-CD-0001
16mm original, circa 1971
(16.0 minutes)
Box 4
Film-reel RL10002-F16MAG-0003
CD audio preservation copy
Box 8
Audio-CD RL10002-CD-0001
16mm original, circa 1971
(14.0 minutes)
Box 4
Film-reel RL10002-F16MAG-0004
CD audio preservation copy
Box 8
Audio-CD RL10002-CD-0001
16mm original, circa 1971
(21.0 minutes)
Box 4
Film-reel RL10002-F16MAG-0005
CD audio preservation copy
Box 8
Audio-CD RL10002-CD-0002
16mm original, circa 1971
(23.0 minutes)
Box 4
Film-reel RL10002-F16MAG-0006
CD audio preservation copy
Box 8
Audio-CD RL10002-CD-0002
16mm original, circa 1971
(23.0 minutes)
Box 4
Film-reel RL10002-F16MAG-0007
CD audio preservation copy
Box 8
Audio-CD RL10002-CD-0002
16mm original, circa 1971
(27.0 minutes)
Box 4
Film-reel RL10002-F16MAG-0008
CD audio preservation copy
Box 8
Audio-CD RL10002-CD-0003
16mm original, circa 1971
(28.0 minutes)
Box 4
Film-reel RL10002-F16MAG-0009
CD audio preservation copy
Box 8
Audio-CD RL10002-CD-0003
CD audio preservation copy
Box 8
Audio-CD RL10002-CD-0004
16mm original, circa 1971
(26.0 minutes)
Box 4
Film-reel RL10002-F16MAG-0010
CD audio preservation copy
Box 8
Audio-CD RL10002-CD-0004
16mm original, circa 1971
(27.0 minutes)
Box 6
Film-reel RL10002-F16MAG-0011
CD audio preservation copy
Box 8
Audio-CD RL10002-CD-0005
16mm original, circa 1971
(30.0 minutes)
Box 5
Film-reel RL10002-F16MAG-0012

The Duck Season, circa 1968

4.0 Items

According to the David X. Young website (http://davidxyoung.com/projects/index.html) The Duck Season "covers a period from the end of October to New Year's Day of two barely fictional Cape Cod towns. Essentially it follows the conventions of an old fashioned horror story wherein, at the climax, the townspeople grab their torches and rush to burn the monster in his castle. In those tales the monsters were the 'round' characters and the good scientist and his wife plus townfolk were 'flat.' Here the round characters are flattened somewhat and the flat ones rounded, to make it more like real life, and the motivations are made more logical. From this a lifelike true horror emerges, while retaining the classic atmosphere." This series contains four reels of silent 16mm film.

Original audiovisual materials are closed to use. Use of these materials may require production of listening or viewing copies. Please contact a reference archivist before coming to use this collection.

16mm original, circa 1968
(25.0 minutes)
Box 1
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0017
16mm original, circa 1968
(25.0 minutes)
Box 5
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0018
16mm original, circa 1968
(25.0 minutes)
Box 5
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0019
16mm original, circa 1968
(25.0 minutes)
Box 1
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0020

Other film reels, 1955-1985 and undated

29.0 Items

David X. Young worked on numerous film projects throughout his life, as evidenced in this series, which includes a number of 16mm and 8mm reels comprised of footage that was spliced or "spooled" together for ease of transfer to videotape. Consequently, some reels contain multiple clips of unrelated project footage. Note that some of the reels are unlabeled, full-coat magnetic soundtrack that may match other silent reels in the collection.

Arrangement

This series is arranged chronologically based on the earliest identifiable clip in the reel.

Original audiovisual materials are closed to use. Use of these materials may require production of listening or viewing copies. Please contact a reference archivist before coming to use this collection.

16mm original, 1955-1967
(31.0 minutes)
Box 3
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0031
16mm original, 1957-1968
(34.0 minutes)
Box 2
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0028
16mm original, circa 1959
(30.0 minutes)
Box 5
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0021
16mm original, circa 1959
(33.0 minutes)
Box 5
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0022
16mm original, 1959-1968
(34.0 minutes)
Box 3
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0030
16mm original, circa 1960
(12.0 minutes)
Box 7
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0027
16mm original, circa 1960
(11.0 minutes)
Box 7
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0025
16mm original, circa 1960
(23.0 minutes)
Box 7
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0015
16mm original, 1962-1968
(37.0 minutes)
Box 2
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0029
16mm original, 1964-1968
(31.0 minutes)
Box 2
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0034
16mm original, 1965-1969
(42.0 minutes)
Box 5
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0014
16mm original, 1966-1968
(28.0 minutes)
Box 2
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0033
16mm original, 1966-1967
(25.0 minutes)
Box 1
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0032
16mm original, circa 1967
(25.0 minutes)
Box 7
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0016
16mm original, circa 1967
(2.0 minutes)
Box 2
Film-reel RL10002-F16OS-0002
16mm original, circa 1967
(12.0 minutes)
Box 7
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0026
16mm original, 1967
(27.0 minutes)
Box 1
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0024
16mm original, 1968
(26.0 minutes)
Box 1
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0023
16mm original, 1968
(39.0 minutes)
Box 2
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0035
Super 8mm original, 1970
(3.0 minutes)
Box 7
Film-reel RL10002-F8-0003
16mm original, circa 1980
(2.0 minutes)
Box 2
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0037
16mm original, 1985
(5.0 minutes)
Box 2
Film-reel RL10002-F16-0036
16mm original, undated
(23.0 minutes)
Box 7
Film-reel RL10002-F16MAG-0013
16mm original, undated
(14.0 minutes)
Box 1
Film-reel RL10002-F16MAG-0014
16mm original, undated
(7.0 minutes)
Box 7
Film-reel RL10002-F16MAG-0015
8mm original, undated
(15.0 minutes)
Box 7
Film-reel RL10002-F8-0001
Super 8mm original, undated
(2.0 minutes)
Box 7
Film-reel RL10002-F8-0002
16mm original, undated
Box 2
Film-reel RL10002-F16-Cuts 01
16mm original, undated
Box 2
Film-reel RL10002-F16-Cuts 02

Other videocassettes, 1999 May 17-26

29.0 Items

The videocassettes in this series include four VHS tapes recorded from broadcasts featuring information on W. Eugene Smith, and one Hi-8 tape from 1999 that is possibly a home video of Cape Cod.

Arrangement

This series is arranged chronologically.

Original audiovisual materials are closed to use. Use of these materials may require production of listening or viewing copies. Please contact a reference archivist before coming to use this collection.

VHS videocassette original, 1983 February, 1986 March 2
Box 9
Video-cassette RL10002-VHS-0009
VHS videocassette original, 1996 February 12
Box 9
Video-cassette RL10002-VHS-0006
VHS videocassette original, 1983-1999 and undated
Box 8
Video-cassette RL10002-Hi8-0001
VHS videocassette original, undated
Box 9
Video-cassette RL10002-VHS-0007
VHS videocassette original, undated
Box 9
Video-cassette RL10002-VHS-0008

Other audiocassettes, undated

9.0 Items

The audiocassettes in this series include tapes made from radio broadcasts, as well as one tape from 1991 of David X. Young playing piano.

Arrangement

This series is arranged chronologically.

Original audiovisual materials are closed to use. Use of these materials may require production of listening or viewing copies. Please contact a reference archivist before coming to use this collection.

Audiocassette original, 1991 and undated
Box 8
Audio-cassette RL10002-CS-0009
Audiocassette original, 1991 November
Box 8
Audio-cassette RL10002-CS-0004
Audiocassette original, undated
Box 8
Audio-cassette RL10002-CS-0007
Audiocassette original, undated
Box 8
Audio-cassette RL10002-CS-0006
Audiocassette original, undated
Box 8
Audio-cassette RL10002-CS-0005
Audiocassette original, undated
Box 8
Audio-cassette RL10002-CS-0003
Audiocassette original, undated
Box 8
Audio-cassette RL10002-CS-0002
Audiocassette original, undated
Box 8
Audio-cassette RL10002-CS-0008
Audiocassette original, undated
Box 8
Audio-cassette RL10002-CS-0001

Historical Note

David Benton Young was born in Boston, Massachusetts on February 15, 1930. Young’s father, a jazz musician, committed suicide days after his son’s birth, and Young was raised by his grandparents and mother on Cape Cod. As a child he became interested in art through Disney animation, particulary Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), developing a talent that would lead him to attend the Massachusetts School of Art in Boston. While there he became immersed in the jazz scene, becoming acquainted with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and others, and saw early success when a number of his works were shown and sold at the Mortimer Levitt Gallery in New York City. Upon graduating in 1952, Young reportedly threw his diploma into the Charles River and determined to move to New York. It was there in 1953 that he fell into a group of artists -- Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko -- who congregated at the Cedar Tavern in Greenwich Village. According to Young's daughter, it was around this time that he changed his name to David X. Young, the "X" lending the artist a sense of mystery.

Cramped in the Village and needing room to paint, in 1954 Young rented a loft at 821 6th Avenue, along with musicians Hall Overton and Dick Carey. Outfitting the loft for plumbing and electricity, he used it illegally as a residence as well as a studio. Bringing in pianos and drum kits, the loft residents created an atmosphere amenable to musical creativity, and In the coming years the space would become known as the Jazz Loft, where top jazz musicians would come to jam after their club dates. During this period Young created cover art for a number of jazz albums for the Prestige record label, as well as hundreds of sketches and paintings of life in the Jazz Loft.

In 1955, with funding from a Fulbright Scholarship, Young began visiting Haiti, inspired by the work of Charlie Parker and troubled by Parker’s death. “I knew [Parker] quite well. Mingus was coming to my place a lot. Mingus and Bird were very close. We were all hoping that he'd show up one day. He died on March 12, 1955 and Mingus got very upset. I can't explain it, but I felt that I had to try to get to the heart of black culture. To do that, you would normally go to Africa. But Haiti was just down the street. It was French as well, and if you wanted to do anything with art, you'd go to France. That's originally why I went” (Szpunar and Dante, 2002). In 1957, when photographer W. Eugene Smith sublet half of Overton's loft space, Young became increasingly interested in the possibilities of film as a mode of expression. “I sort of absorbed photography through him. I got interested in film” (Szpunar and Dante, 2002). Young visited Haiti frequently for the rest of his life for inspiration, often with a 16mm camera, and in 1986 produced Seven Haitian Moods from the resulting footage.

In 1960, Young moved to a loft on Canal Street. In 1963, he made Klaximo, in response to “the conceit that technology and the artificial will someday replace the centrality of the human.” (http://davidxyoung.com/projects/index.html). Klaximo's central theme, developed through the depiction of a sexual relationship between a woman and a machine, was for Young the rejection of "industrial eroticism": "I made Klaximo as protest against that very notion. The idea that machines or computers could better the idiosyncrasies of the human psyche. The big problem was to convey the illusion convincingly, which of course meant erotically. And it was largely a mise en scene editing and rhythm problem. It was a challenge just like painting a leafy tree in certain lights is a challenge. No other difference. I don't see anything avant garde about it. I think it is too clear for that category" (Szpunar and Dante, 2002). Young had difficulty getting Klaximo shown, which he attributed to the rise of Pop Art and prevailing sentiments in the underground New York film scene.

In 1971, Young shot hours of footage of W. Eugene Smith working in his studio for the CBS documentary series Lamp Unto My Feet. The resulting half-hour documentary was produced in conjunction with The Jewish Museum in New York City, which was mounting the Smith retrospective, "Let Truth Be The Prejudice."

Young continued to paint and work with his over the following decades. In 2000, Jazz Magnet released a 2-CD box set of recordings, with extensive notes, that Young made at the Jazz Loft in the 1950s and 1960s.

David X. Young died in New York City on May 22, 2001.

Sources: Szpunar, John and Melanie Dante. "'There are pictures in your paintings!' An interview with David X. Young." http://bdc-lancaster.net/criticalWriting/Pictures_in_your_Paintings.html, accessed November 2012.

Martin, Douglas. "David Young Dies at 71; Painter and Friend to Jazz Artists." New York Times, June 3, 2001. Accessed November 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/06/03/nyregion/david-young-dies-at-71-painter-and-friend-to-jazz-artists.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm.

David X. Young Website, Projects page. http://davidxyoung.com/projects/index.html. Accessed November 2012.

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], David X. Young films, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Provenance

The David X. Young Films were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in July, 2012.

Processing Information

Processed by: Craig Breaden, September 2012

Accessions described in this collection guide: 2012-0130