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Belson Pastel Self Portrait.jpg

Self Portrait, pastel on paper n.d.

Jordan Belson (1926-2011) was an American artist and filmmaker. Of his influences, Belson has said: "Over the years I have been interested in, and influenced by, many subjects – yoga, Buddhism, mandalas, Indian holy men, Tibetan mysticism, theosophy, Egyptology, Rosicrucianism, Gurdjieff and Rodney Collin, Cabala, Jung, magic, Tantra, alchemy, symbolism, astronomy, Japanese mon design, Arabic patterns, Non-Objective art, optical phenomena, science imagery, surrealism, visual art (all kinds, ancient through modern) and Romantic classical music... to mention a few."  Over the course of six decades, Belson rigorously explored these subjects in his art.  While Belson is best known for making films, he made a significant body of two-dimensional works and kinetic sculptures from the 1940s until his death in 2011. Like his films, his graphic art brings aesthetic, spiritual, and sensual experiences to the viewer, reflecting his deep interest in sacred art, cosmology and cosmogenesis. 


At the vanguard of the Bay Area art scene, Belson worked with his friend Harry Smith from 1948 - 52; they shared support and patronage from Hilla Rebay, one of the founders of the Guggenheim Museum, where Belson had his first exhibition of paintings in 1948. Belson also worked with Bruce Conner in 1953 at Lionel Ziprin’s Inkweed Arts when he lived briefly in NYC. Belson's 1957-59 "Vortex Concerts," staged with sound artist Henry Jacobs at the Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco, were an important influence on the multimedia "expanded cinema" of the 1960s, as was his singular body of film work. In the 1980s Belson renounced most public involvement in the worlds of the art and film, when he began a fruitful period of near-seclusion, which he maintained until his death in 2011.  A Guggenheim Fellow and Ford Foundation Fellow, Belson also twice received American Film Institute grants.

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