The Masters & Masterworks Collection

Robert Snyder holds an Academy Award® Statuette

Robert Snyder poses backstage with his statuette and presenter Coleen Gray at the 1950 (23rd) Academy Awards ceremony.

The Masters & Masterworks Collection, a group of films made by documentarian Robert Snyder and named for his production company, was acquired by the Academy Film Archive beginning in September 1998. The collection includes copies of his finished films as well as a large amount of outtake and production material.

Robert Snyder won an Academy Award® in the Documentary Feature category for “The Titan: Story of Michelangelo” in 1950. The film was narrated by five-time nominee and two-time Oscar® winner Fredric March, and its production was supported by the great Robert Flaherty, considered by many to be the father of feature documentaries (“Nanook of the North,” “Man of Aran;” Oscar® nominee for co-writing “Louisiana Story”). “The Titan” was preserved by the Academy Film Archive from a nitrate fine grain master positive in the Masters & Masterworks Collection. A new print of the film was screened at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater in the series “Oscar’s Docs, The First 20 Years” in October 2005. The Academy Film Archive plans to preserve other films in this collection in the near future.

About Robert Snyder

Snyder was born on January 16, 1916, in New York.  He received his B.A. from City College, New York in 1936, and an MA in English from Columbia University in 1938, where he wrote a master’s thesis on Milton's imagery of light.  In 1940, he completed his residency requirement for a PhD at Columbia University. Snyder worked for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II, analyzing propaganda in captured enemy films. In addition to his film work, he produced Billie Holiday's first concert at Town Hall in New York City, and produced Louis Armstrong’s first concert at Carnegie Hall. Snyder died in 2004.

Snyder made biographical documentaries about many of the most important artists, writers, and thinkers of the 20th century, including Buckminster Fuller, Pablo Casals, Henry Miller, Anaϊs Nin, Claudio Arrau, and Willem de Kooning.  Snyder was also nominated in the Documentary Feature category in 1958 for “The Hidden World”, a film about insects, narrated by Oscar winner and past Academy President Gregory Peck.

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