The Danny Seymour collection at the Harvard Film Archive contains materials produced by the photographer and filmmaker up until his disappearance in 1973. The collection holds over thirty films by Seymour, including Home is where the heart is, a short film on loneliness and drug use, starring a young Jessica Lange and made in collaboration with his friend and mentor Robert Frank, with whom Seymour had a profound relationship. Seymour’s life as a young artist in the burgeoning New York art scene of the 70s and his inclusion in the tight-knit community of radical, esoteric artists—such as John Lennon and Yoko Ono—had a profound influence on his work.
Seymour found, in Robert Frank—then already a highly notable photographer—a similar interest in the casual, the unfashionable and the outcast. In the early 50s, Frank had produced his masterwork The Americans as an outsider himself and realized a similar zeal in young Seymour. Together, Seymour and Frank created one of the most infamous rock documentaries of all time, Cocksucker Blues, in which they follow the Rolling Stones on tour after their catastrophic concert at the Altamont Speedway. Writing for The New Yorker following a rare screening of Cocksucker Blues at Film Forum in 2016, Richard Brody commented on the film’s importance during a time when art was toying with the question: how public is the private life of an artist? In 1973, one year after the movie concluded, Seymour set sail for Colombia, and would never be seen again.
In 2015, excerpts from Remy Weber’s still-in-progress documentary Kiss the Past Goodbye where Frank reminiscences about his time with Seymour, were published in the New York Times. Short film experiments, photographs, letters and excerpts from Seymour’s book A Loud Song, published by Lundsrum Press in 1971, make up the documentary. “For over a year now,” says Frank, “Danny Seymour has followed me. Mostly when I am awake at night.” – Wen Zhuang
A list of material from this collection in the Harvard Library catalog can be found here.