Ms. Varda was then relatively inactive until 1999, when, armed for the first time with a digital camera, she set about making “Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse” (“The Gleaners and I”), which resurrected an artistic career now well accustomed to resuscitation and underappreciation.
“She was a person of immense talent, but also enormously thoughtful,” said Mr. Kline of Boston University. “When you look at some of the films you might think they were more spontaneous than thought out. A film like ‘Cléo,’ for instance, you might have said, ‘O.K., she just follows Cléo around Paris,’ but the film is extremely beautifully imagined and thought out beforehand.”
In ‘Vagabond’ ” — an 1985 film in which Sandrine Bonnaire plays a woman who is found dead and whose life is recounted, often in documentary style — “the traveling shots in the film are always ending, and each subsequent shot beginning, on a common visual cue. It makes you look at film in a completely different way,” he said.
Alison Smith, author of the critical study “Agnès Varda” (1998), called Ms. Varda “a poet of objects and how we use them.” In an interview for this obituary, she added, “Varda as an artist intrigued, and intrigues, me by the constant freshness and curiosity which she brings to her inquiries into the everyday world and how we relate to it, particularly how she uses the detailed fabric of life.”
Richard Peña, who as director of the New York Film Festival helped introduce “Gleaners” to an American audience, praised that film and Ms. Varda’s “The Beaches of Agnès” (2008) as “touchstones for a new generation of nonfiction filmmakers.”
Ms. Varda is represented at the Museum of Modern Art by photographs, films, videos and a three-screen installation titled “The Triptych of Noirmoutier.” “A decision to change direction and move into installation art when over 80 is, by any standards, remarkable,” Ms. Smith said. “But her energy was awe-inspiring.”