Suzan Pitt’s 1979 animated film, Asparagus, is a candy-coloured nightmare that rocked audiences when it premiered in an installation at the Whitney Museum, New York, catapulting her to the front ranks of indie animation. Deftly mixing techniques including cel painting, cut-outs, and stop-motion animation, Asparagus propels its blank-faced protagonist into a sexually charged dream journey into the world of the phallus, rendered here as a field of asparagus, which she deep throats, excretes and flushes away. The film’s stunning set piece occurs before a claymation audience who gape as the artist opens her Pandora’s box to release rare wonders. A moving meditation on art and the cost of reproduction, Asparagus remains, decades after its release, a benchmark of single frame intensity. Asparagus was preserved by the Academy Film Archive in 2014.

“…the extraordinary Asparagus, [is] one of the most lavish and wondrous animated shorts ever made, an overwhelming visual experience.”
John Cannemaker, American animation historian.

“The animation constitutes one of the most important works of imagination seen in some time, filled with every possible animation technique, all exquisitely rendered, all calculated to produce incredible wonder in the heart of the viewer. It is a children’s fairy tale for adults.”
B Ruby Rich, American critic of independent, Latin American, documentary, feminist, and queer film.

Suzan Pitt was born in in 1943 in Kansas City, and lives in Los Angeles, USA. She undertook a BFA in painting at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan (1963-65). Her work is in the permanent collections of the The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Ludwig Museum, Cologne, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, California. Her animated films have been featured at the Sundance Film Festival, Utah, The New York Film Festival, The London Film Festival, the Ottawa International Animated Film Festival, Canada, Morelia International Film Festival, Mexico, and the Image Forum Film Festival, Tokyo. Pitt designed the first two operas to include animated film images for the opera stage: she designed the sets, 35mm film projections, and costumes for the State Opera of Wiesbaden (The Magic Flute) in 1983 and the Hamburg State Opera (The Damnation of Faust) in Germany, in 1988. A former Associate Professor at Harvard University, Pitt has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rockefeller Fellowship and three production grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. A retrospective of Pitt’s prize-winning animated films was presented at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2016.

‘Asparagus’ is presented as part of DRAWING, a programme of exhibitions and events across the North East England region that pose the question: does DRAWING matter? For more information about events in the programme visit www.drawingne.org.uk