Ben Langton


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Ben Langton was born as Stephen Bennet Langton in Berkeley, California, to Dr. John Langton and Constance Langton on November 23, 1935. He attended school there, but did not graduate from high school. He left home at age 16, worked in a Nevada gold mine for a summer, and was drafted into the army. After a short stint he was discharged before completing boot camp.

During the years around his early twenties, Ben wrote poetry which contains many unusual and vivid visual images, quite evocative of some of his later painting. With the G.I. Bill, Ben was able to attend the San Francisco School of  Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) which he did off and on until 1960. In 1962 he moved to Mill Valley with his wife and children. He supported the family by working as a carpenter locally and on the waterfront as a shipwright.

His early work was abstract expressionistic oils, which later evolved into fanciful figurative and mythological representation. He taught himself printmaking and learned to do sensitive line drawings in the difficult medium, engraving directly on the metal plate. His subject was the nude female form.

From 1964 until his last show in San Francisco in 1974, Ben was associated with the John Bolles Gallery and had several shows there. The Denver Art Museum purchased one of his paintings. From 1970 to 1979 he lived and painted in an old one-room school in Killaloe Station, Ontario, Canada. At that time he was showing in Toronto and at the Avanti Gallery in New York. His last years were spent in Willits, California.

During the early years of the Beat Generation in the 1950’s, Ben was a friend of Hayward King, Wally Hedrick, Jay DeFeo, Wallace Berman, Knute Stiles, and Fred Martin.

His most ambitious work was a huge Möbius curve painting. The Möbius band or curve is one continuous plane with no beginning or end, a difficult structure to achieve with canvas. It was shown in 1980 at A Space in Toronto, Canada.

Beside being a poet, painter, and printmaker, Ben studied many other diverse subjects.

Ben died on February 23, 2008 at the age of 72

Exhibitions

Group Exhibitions

The Six Gallery, San Francisco, CA. 1956

Bolles Gallery, San Francisco, CA. 1964

Picture Loan, Toronto, Canada. 1972

Diogenes International Galleries, Athens, Greece. 1972

Lenox gallery, New York, NY. 1973

Solo Exhibitions

Bolles Gallery, San Francisco, CA. 1966

Bolles Gallery, San Francisco, CA. 1969

Avanti Gallery, New York, NY. 1970

Pennell Gallery, Toronto, Canada. 1972

Avanti Gallery, New York, NY. 1972

Bolles Gallery, San Francisco, CA. 1974

A Space, Toronto, Canada, Ben Langton: A Message From the Afterworld. 1980

 

Other

Member: San Francisco Art Institute Art Bank. 1960-1965.

© Janet F. Langton 2012