Mary Ellen Bute


CVM's Bute Research Pages : Selected Bibliography and Texts     

Mood Con

Image from Mood Contrasts


anon. "Expanding Cinema's Synchromy 2." The Literary Digest, August 8, 1936.

Acker, Ally. Reel Women: Pioneers of the Cinema 1896 to the Present. Continuum, 1991.

Basquin, Kit Smyth - NEW BOOK! Mary Ellen Bute, Pioneer Animator. John Libbey Publishing, 2020.

--"Mary Ellen Bute, Energy in Motion." Angles: Women Working in Film and Video, Vol. 3, No. 3,4 (Spring 1988)

-- Mary Ellen Bute's Film Adaptation of Finnegan's Wake. James Joyce's Finnegans Wake: A Casebook. John Hary III, ed. New York: Garland Publishing, 1991.

-- Mary Ellen Bute: Pioneer American Filmmaker: a Guide to the Collection at the Golda Meir Library, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; with an Introductory Essay by Kit Basquin. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Golda Meir Library, 1998.

-- "Mary Ellen Bute's Passages from Finnegans Wake" - Introduction to a 2008 screening of the film

Batten, Mary. Actuality and Abstraction, in Vision. A Journal of Film Comment, New York, Vol.1, 2 (Summer 1962).

Bute, Mary Ellen. "New Film Music for New Films." Film Music, Vol 12.4 (March-April 1953).

-- “Abstronics: An Experimental Filmaker Photographs the Esthetics of the Oscillograph.” in Films in Review, Henry Hart, ed. Vol. 5, No. 6 (June-July 1954). PDF.

-- "Light * Form * Movement * Sound." Design (1956). PDF

-- "Abstract Films." unpublished typescript, n.d. Collection of Cecile Starr (photocopy in Collection of Center for Visual Music).

-- Passages from Finnegans Wake, pages from filmscript, 1965. Flashpoint magazine online, courtesy Cecile Starr.

-- Interview. AFI Report, Vol 5, 2 (1974).

-- "Reaching for Kinetic Art." Field of Vision, No 13 (Spring 1985), Robert Haller, Ed. (PDF)

-- "Statement I." and "Statement II." in Articulated Light: The Emergence of Abstract Film in America. Gerald O'Grady, Bruce Posner, eds. Boston: Harvard Film Archive, 1995. Program Notes.

Curtis, David. Experimental Cinema. London: Studio Vista, 1971.

Gengaro, Christine Lee. Art Music in the Abstract Animated Films of Oskar Fischinger and Mary Ellen Bute: Form, Structure, and Narrative. Resonance: An Interdisciplinary Music Journal (Spring 2006).

Glinsky, Albert. Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage. University of Illinois Press, 2000.

Gronlund, Melissa. Mary Ellen Bute. Frieze Magazine, Issue 118 (October 2008).

Hart, Henry. "Finnegans Wake." Films in Review XVI, no. 5 (May 1965).

Jacobs, Lewis. "Experimental Cinema in America, Part I." Hollywood Quarterly 2 (Winter 1947-48).

Keefer, Cindy, "Visual Music's Influence on Contemporary Abstraction," in Abstract Video: The Moving Image in Contemporary Art. Gabrielle Jennings, ed. UC Press, 2015.

Lev, Peter. The Fifties: Transforming the Screen 1950-1959. University of California Press, 2006.

MacDonald, Scott. Art in Cinema: Documents Toward a History of the Film Society. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006

Markopoulos, Gregory: Beyond Audio Visual Space. A Short Study of the Films of Mary Ellen Bute. Vision. A Journal of Film Comment, New York, Vol.1, 2 (Summer 1962)

Moritz, William. Mary Ellen Bute: Seeing Sound. Animation World Magazine, 1996 contains errata

Naumann, Sandra. "A Visual Visionary: Avant-garde Filmmaker Mary Ellen Bute," in a:mínima: Live Cinema, No. 22 (Fall 2007).

Rabinovitz, Lauren. "Mary Ellen Bute." in Lovers of Cinema: the First American Film Avant-garde, 1919-1945. Jan-Christopher Horak, ed. University of Wisconsin Press, 1995.

Russett, Robert and Cecile Starr, eds. "Mary Ellen Bute" in Experimental Animation: An Illustrated Anthology. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976

Satz, Aura. "Shapes with the Sound of their Own Making." Cabinet: A Quarterly of Art and Culture. Issue 44, Winter 2011-2012.

Schiff, Lillian. “The Education of Mary Ellen Bute,” Film Library Quarterly Vol. 17, No. 2 (1984). Rpt., abr. in Women and Animation: A Compendium. Ed. Jayne Pilling. London: British Film Institute, 1992.

Starr, Cecile. "Ideas on Film: Eyewitnessing the World of the 16mm Motion Picture." Saturday Review, Vol 35, No. 50 (Dec. 13, 1952). Excerpt online

-- "Restoring Women to Film History." Women Artist News, Vol. 7.2 (1981)

-- "Bute, Mary Ellen" in Notable American Women, A Biographical Dictionary, Ed. Susan Ware. Harvard University Press, 2005.

Weinberg, Gretchen. "An Interview with Mary Ellen Bute on the Filming of Finnegans Wake." Film Culture 35 (1964-1965).

Wells, Paul. Animation and America. Rutgers University Press, 2002.

Zunser, Jesse. "Kinetic Space." Cue: The Weekly Magazine of New York Life (August 26, 1939).

anon. 1954 Mary Ellen Bute began using oscilloscope patterns in her films, from WebBox's Computer Graphic Timeline 1945 - 2000, online.



Bennett, Bruce. Experiments in Love and Film, The Wondrous Work of Movie Explorers Mary Ellen Bute and Ted Nemeth. Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2010.

New York World-Telegram. "Color, Sound, Light Dance with Harmonious Steps in "Synchromy," Art Form Created by Texas Girl." (July 20, 1936). Article here.

Popular Science, "Music Made Visible in Weird Movie," November 1936. Online here

Slater, Maya-Roisin. This Animation Pioneer Turned Music into Pure Light. Creators, May 2017. Online.



Schillinger, Joseph. "Excerpts from A Theory of Synchronization." Experimental Cinema No. 5, 1934. PDF Online courtesy Philip Hood.

Mary Ellen Bute papers at Yale - a Collection at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Selections online at Beinecke Digital Collections

Passages from Finnegans Wake. Cannes Film Festival program. Flashpoint magazine online, from collection of Beinecke Library, Yale University.




CREDIT: This bibliography was compiled by (c) 2006 - 2021, Center for Visual Music. Please do not quote or reproduce portions for educational use without attributing proper credit and full url. Permission is not granted for duplication, reproduction for commercial use or use in any print publications without obtaining permission directly from CVM; write us at cvmaccess (at) gmail dot com.


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Updated Jan 2021

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Thanks to the donors who contributed to the Mary Ellen Bute digitization project at CVM, which includes updating this site and digitizing more of her artwork, films and papers: Eleena Bakrie, Kit Smyth Basquin, James Boyce, Dan Brown, Tom Chartier, Daryl Chin, Tina Frank, Kristina Corey Fuiks, Anna Geyer, Joshua Harrell, Geoff Kessell, Ray Kosarin, Rune Kreutz, Samatha Moore, Sandra Naumann, Paolo Pole, Louise Sandhaus, Margaret Schedel, Kurt Schultz, Simone Sello, Alexandra Union, Joshua White, Ralph Richard Whyte.

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