Jerome Hill

(1905-1972)

Jerome Hill

The Camargo Foundation honors the legacy, artistic interests and humanistic concerns of founderJerome Hill.

Jerome Hill, the grandson of railroad builder James Jerome Hill and the son of Louis W. Hill, Sr., was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. After graduating from Yale, where he majored in music and composition, he traveled to Europe and began studies in painting. During these trips, he started experimenting with still photography, influenced by what he had learned as a student of Edward Weston.

Beginning in the 1930s, Jerome Hill made his main residence in Cassis, a scenic port town on the Mediterranean Sea, in front of the dramatic cliffs of Cap Canaille. Even though he maintained a residence at Sugar Bowl, a ski resort in California, and lived for long stretches in New York City, Cassis became the heart of his creative life, the inspiration for many of his paintings, a backdrop for his films, and the center of his social and artistic life.

In Cassis, Jerome Hill began experimenting with film and motion picture cameras. Filmmaking soon became his main artistic activity, in addition to painting and music composition. At first, he explored the documentary genre with Grandma Moses (1950), a short film about the renowned American folk artist, and Albert Schweitzer (1957), which received an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Broadening interests took him beyond the documentary format with his first "story" film, The Sand Castle (1961). Inspired by the ideas of C. G. Jung, it was a feature length, low-budget, comedy-fantasy in black and white with a dream sequence in color that introduced a novel form of stop motion.
Self Portrait (1972), his masterwork and cinematic memoir, is a diary film in which he presents his life and milieu through old home movies and newly-staged scenes, many hand-colored and animated.

In Cassis, Jerome Hill also found time to begin a series of performing arts festivals. These festivals offered exposure to a wide variety of theatre professionals and musicians. Many of these theatre groups and performers were at the fringes of the art world, such as the provocative Living Theater from New York City, whose performances were met by some in Cassis with consternation or shock.

During the last decade of his life, Jerome Hill started building his legacy. In 1964, he set aside funds to establish the Avon Foundation, which is now known as the Jerome Foundation, which supports the creation, development, and production of new works by emerging artists in Minnesota and New York City. In 1967, he founded the Camargo Foundation, ensuring that his spirit of creativity and experimentation, his love for the arts, and his passion for French culture would live on at his beloved residence in Cassis.