Former Annenberg Faculty Member Amos Vogel: 1921 - 2012

Amos Vogel at Annenberg School for Communication ASC UPenn
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At Left: Amos Vogel in the 1970s at Annenberg

Amos Vogel, a emeritus professor of communication and a member of the Annenberg faculty from 1973 to 1991 teaching various film studies courses, died earlier this week in New York City. He was 91-years-old.   Mr. Vogel had a significant impact on the film industry. In 1947 he opened Cinema 16, an art film house in New York, and he was co-founder of the New York Film Festival, which this year marks its 50th anniversary.

A film about Cinema 16 can be seen here.

Memories of Amos Vogel   Robert Aibel, Ph.D. (Gr' 84):

“By the time Amos Vogel joined the Annenberg faculty he had already transformed the worldview of film as an art form,” said Dr. Aibel, Ph.D. (Gr ’84), who was a teaching assistant with Vogel and is the owner of Moderne Gallery in Philadelphia.  “At the Annenberg School, Amos became a major contributor to the cutting-edge scholarly investigation of visual communication.  He trained a whole generation of students to understand the formal aspects of ‘film language’ and screened hundreds of important, but neglected films at his Annenberg Cinematheque.  Above all, Amos was a kind, compassionate and generous man whose life and work were transformative for all those who surrounded him.”

Larry Gross, Ph.D.:

Former Annenberg Penn faculty member Larry Gross, Ph.D., said "I first met Amos Vogel when he began teaching at the Annenberg School in the early 1970s, first as a lecturer and then as a professor. Amos was a pioneer in the teaching of film in the Ivy League, if you can believe that, because there was significant resistance to the introduction of courses centered on the analysis of film and its role in modern society. Much of this resistance came from the very departments which now boast the presence of film studies programs, but that was then..."

Now the vice dean at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC, Prof. Gross continued, saying "Amos Vogel’s course became one of the centerpieces of the Annenberg School’s emerging undergraduate curriculum and it remained a high point of many students’ experience at Penn. As you might imagine, students sometimes signed up for the class – often referred to as “Monday night at the movies” in the expectation of an easy time: movies to watch, little required reading, and minimal requirements, only to be surprised by the seriousness, the rigor and the tough approach to grading that Amos insisted on.

"This wasn’t entertainment, although it was often entertaining, it was serious stuff that needed to be taken seriously. And, much as he had earlier in New York, through the legendary Cinema 16, which introduced a generation of artists and intellectuals to the world of serious film, Amos played a critical role in establishing film studies as a central and serious part of a respectable liberal arts education. The Annenberg School, the University of Pennsylvania, and the academic community all owe Amos Vogel a great debt of gratitude. I should add, for those who didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Amos, that he did all of this with unfailing good humor, enthusiasm and intelligence that made him an ideal colleague and a good friend. I know that many will join me in missing his presence."

Michael Griffin, Ph.D. (Gr '87):

“In the process of teaching about film art, Amos challenged all sorts of accepted preconceptions about our relationship to the world,” said Dr. Griffin. “Sometimes he did that by walking out onto the stage following a film, making one brief provocative statement, and then standing silently, waiting for the audience to think, puzzle, squirm, and eventually respond.    “I worked with Amos as a projectionist, a teaching assistant, and a teaching associate for nearly six years and that permanently changed my way of thinking about art, communication and the human psyche,” said Dr. Griffin, a professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. “His influence is still with me every time I lead a class discussion. I still borrow from his insights, point to unique medium-specific qualities of cinema with his lessons in mind, and try to imitate his style of challenging students, pushing them to question their ideas and assumptions not only about film and art, but about human life and themselves. Whenever students seem particularly perplexed, or even stunned, by a new sort of film viewing experience, I think of Amos.”  

Paul Messaris, Ph.D.:

"Cinema 16 played an extremely important role in the development of experimental visual media, and COMM 262 (Visual Communication), the course that Amos established at Annenberg and that I now teach, was a direct outgrowth of Amos's earlier work as a curator. Incidentally, Cinema 16 also has the distinction of having provided the young Stanley Kubrick with his first exposure to non-Hollywood movies (according to Kubrick himself)."

  Hyperlinks to more information:   Philadelphia Inquirer   The Wall Street Journal

The New York Times   Chicago Tribune   The Hollywood Reporter