Amos Vogel © Paul Cronin

Be Sand, Not Oil
The Life and Work of Amos Vogel

Fall 2014 | Book Publication

Amos Vogel, born in Vienna in 1921, emigrated to New York in 1939, on the run from the Nazis who had taken over his home country. In America, he became one of the most important figures in post-war film culture. As founder and curator of Cinema 16, the largest film society in the U.S., as founding director of the New York Film Festival as well as being an essayist and author of the standard work, Film as a Subversive Art, Vogel made immense and often radical contributions to film as an art form and to its understanding as a tool of cultural resistance. "The man was a giant," said Martin Scorsese when Vogel passed away on April 24, 2012.

Late in his life, Vogel's relation to and exchanges with Vienna had grown stronger again. In 1993 he participated as a guest – and gave a very moving lecture – in the major project on exiles in cinema, Aufbruch ins Ungewisse (Departure into Uncertainty), organized by the Viennale, the Film Museum, and SYNEMA. Following Vogel's death, his sons Steven and Loring approached the Film Museum and made possible the purchase of his library, dating to the 1930s, as well as many of Vogel's early writing in German.

Edited by Paul Cronin, the English-language anthology Be Sand, Not Oil will be published in the fall of 2014. It contains selected writings and documents by Amos Vogel as well as essays about him and all facets of his life's work. The title comes from a poem by Günter Eich that Vogel had attached to the bulletin board above his desk: "Be uncomfortable, be sand, not oil, in the gears of the world's machine!"

The purchase of Amos Vogel's library and other documents from his estate was made partially possible through funding from the BMUKK. The book will appear as Volume 24 in the series FilmmuseumSynemaPublikationen.


Projects in the framework of the Film Museum's 50th anniversary are supported by the Austrian Film Institute, the City of Vienna and the Austrian Federal Chancellery.