Thursday's program features a couple of Burckhardt's comedies: Mounting Tension (1950), which stars Ashbery (as "a jock turned abstract painter," according to the Poetry Foundation summary) and painters Larry Rivers and Jane Feilicher; and Automotive Story (1954), a mockumentary about car culture featuring O'Hara. The other two shorts on the program are more experimental works from the 1980s: In Bed (1986) and Ostensibly (1989), which visualize poems by, respectively, Kenneth Koch and Ashbery. With the exception of Automotive Story (which will be presented digitally), all these shorts will screen from 16-millimeter.
The impressive list of collaborators speaks to Burckhardt's central role in the New York art world—and the list doesn't end with these four films. Some of Burckhardt's other "stars" include Willem de Kooning, Aaron Copland, and Paul Bowles; and in the 1950s he codirected four shorts with the great Joseph Cornell. "Friendship formed the basis of Burckhardt's aesthetic," according to the Independent obituary.