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Michael Snow Biography, Career, Filmography and Awards

Michael Snow Biography

Michael Snow, CC is a Canadian artist working in painting, sculpture, video, films, photography, holography, drawing, books and music. His best-known films are Wavelength (1967) and La Région Centrale (1971), with the former regarded as a milestone in avant-garde cinema.He was born December 10, 1929. Michael Snow was born in Toronto and studied at Upper Canada College and the Ontario College of Art. He had his first solo exhibition in 1957. In the early 1960s Snow moved to New York with his first wife, artist Joyce Wieland, where they remained for nearly a decade. For Snow this move resulted in a proliferation of creative ideas and connections and his work increasingly gained recognition. He returned to Canada in the early 1970s “an established figure, multiply defined as a visual artist, a filmmaker, and a musician.”

His work has appeared at exhibitions across Europe, North America and South America. Snows’ works were included in the shows marking the reopening of both the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2000 and the MoMA in New York in 2005. In March 2006, his works were included in the Whitney Biennia.

Michael Snow Career


Michael is one of the most influential experimental filmmakers and is the subject of retrospectives in many countries. In his 2002 Village Voice review of *Corpus Callosum, J. Hoberman writes, “Rigorously predicated on irreducible cinematic facts, Snow’s structuralist epics—Wavelength and La Région Centrale—announced the imminent passing of the film era. Rich with new possibilities, *Corpus Callosum heralds the advent of the next. Whatever it is, it cannot be too highly praised.” *Corpus Calossum was screened at the Toronto, Berlin, Rotterdam, and the Los Angeles film festivals amongst others.

Snow won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Douglas Edwards Independent Experimental Film/Video Award for *Corpus Callosum, in January 2003 . His numerous films have premiered in major film festivals all over the world. Five of his films have premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). In 2000, TIFF commissioned Snow with Atom Egoyan and David Cronenberg to make short films, Preludes, for the 25th Anniversary of the festival. Wavelength has been designated and preserved as a “masterwork” by the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada and was named #85 in the 2001 Village Voice critics’ list of the 100 Best Films of the 20th Century .


Being a professional jazz musician, Snow has a long-standing interest in improvised music, as indicated by the soundtrack to his film New York Eye and Ear Control. As a pianist, he has performed solo and with other musicians in North America, Europe and Japan. Snow performs regularly in Canada and internationally, often with the improvisational music ensemble CCMC and has released more than a half dozen albums since the mid-1970s. In the year 1987, Snow issued The Last LP (Art Metropole), which purported to be a documentary recording of the dying gasps of ethnic musical cultures from around the globe including Tibet, Syria, India, China, Brazil, Finland and elsewhere, with more thousands of words of pseudo-scholarly supplementary notes, but was, in fact, a series of multi-tracked recordings of Snow himself, who gave the joke away only in a single column of text in the disc’s gatefold jacket, printed backwards and readable in a mirror. One track, purported to be a document of a coming-of-age ritual from Niger, is a pastiche of Whitney Houston’s song “How Will I Know.”

Snow was one of the four performers of the rarely performed Steve Reich piece Pendulum Music on May 27, 1969 at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The other three were: Richard Serra, James Tenney and Bruce Nauman.

Snow began a long-term project that for six years would be his trademark: the Walking Woman ,before Snow moved to New York in 1961,. Martha Langford in Michael Snow: Life & Work describes this work as employing a single form that offered an infinite number of creative possibilities, the figure itself perceived variably as “a positive (a presence to be looked at) and a negative (an absence to be looked through).”

Langford identifies duality as a guiding principle in Snow’s work. By combining materials and methods Snow creates hybrid objects that often defy classification. A work which exemplifies Snow’s testing of stylistic boundaries is his 1979 installation Flight Stop, which looks like a sculptural representation of sixty geese, but is in fact an intricate combination of fibreglass forms and photographs of a single goose.

Snow’s works have been in Canadian pavilion at world fairs since his famous Walking Women sculpture was exhibited at Expo 67 in Montréal. His recent bookwork BIOGRAPHIE of the Walking Woman / de la femme qui marche 1961-1967 (2004) was published in Brussels by La Lettre vole. It consists of images of the public appearances of his globally famous icon.

Anarchive2: Digital Snow describes Michael Snow as “one of the most significant artists in contemporary art and cinema of the past 50 years.” This 2002 DVD was initiated by Paris’ Centre Pompidou and was produced with the support of la foundation Daniel Langlois, Université de Paris, Heritage Canada, the Canada Council, Téléfilm Canada and Montreal’s Époxy. It is an encyclopedia of Snow’s works across media, browsed in a manner inimitably and artfully created by Snow. Its 4,685 entries include film clips, sculpture, photographs, audio and musical clips, and interviews.

Michael Snow Photo

Michael Snow Photo

Michael Snow Awards

  1. Gershon Iskowitz Prize, 2011
  2. Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Independent/Experimental Film and Video Award for “*Corpus Callosum”, 2002
  3. Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, 2002
  4. Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, 2000
  5. Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres, France, 1995
  6. Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Independent/Experimental Film and Video Award for “So Is This”, 1983
  7. Guggenheim Fellowship, 1972
  8. Grand Pix of the Knokke Experimental Film Festival for “Wavelength”, 1967
  9. Member, Royal Canadian Academy of Arts

Michael Snow Filmography

  1. New York Eye and Ear Control (1964)
  2. Short Shave (1965)
  3. Wavelength (1967)
  4. Standard Time (1967)
  5. One Second in Montreal (1969)
  6. Dripping Water (with Joyce Wieland, 1969)
  7. <—-> (AKA Back and Forth) (1969)
  8. Side Seat Paintings Slides Sound Film (1970)
  9. La Région Centrale (1971)
  10. Two Sides to Every Story (double 16mm installation, 1974)
  11. ‘Rameau’s Nephew’ by Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen (1974)
  12. Breakfast (Table Top Dolly) (1976)
  13. Presents (1981)
  14. So Is This (1982)
  15. Seated Figures (1988)
  16. See You Later (1990)
  17. To Lavoisier, Who Died in the Reign of Terror (1991)
  18. Prelude (2000)
  19. The Living Room (2000)
  20. *Corpus Callosum (2002)
  21. WVLNT (“Wavelength For Those Who Don’t Have the Time”) (2003)
  22. Triage (2004), with Carl Brown
  23. SSHTOORRTY (2005)
  24. Reverberlin (2006)
  25. Puccini Conservato (2008)