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Faculty Publication: Professor of History of Art Homay King

June 28, 2021

Floating Roots: Agnes Varda's Uncle Yanco

Author: Homay King

Source: Camera Obscura, Issue: 106, Co-edited by Rebecca J. DeRoo and Homay King, Pages: 8-39, DOI: 10.1215/02705346-8838517

Publication Type: Journal Article

Abstract: This article traces one source of Agnès Varda's artistic inspiration to Jean “Yanco” Varda, the subject of her 1967 short film Uncle Yanco (US/France). Jean Varda was a peripatetic artist who lived on a houseboat and was part of a bohemian circle that included Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Alan Watts, and other luminaries of the San Francisco counterculture. Both Vardas were gleaners and artists. The author argues that both saw the imagination as a place where matter and spirit were reconciled. The article builds on previous work about Varda's The Gleaners and I (Les glaneurs et la glaneuse, France, 2000), exploring Varda's materialist feminism and her use of earthly and tactile materials. The author focuses not only on matter but also on the imagination and the intangible images, colors, and forms that are prominent in her oeuvre, arguing that Yanco served as a muse to his niece.

History of Art