Ben Langton

Click on an image for a larger view and the complete gallery

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


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


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

© Janet F. Langton 2012