An interview of Larry Jordan conducted 1995 Dec. 19-1996 July 30, by Paul Karlstrom, for the Archives of American Art, at the artist's home, in Petaluma, Calif.
Jordan discusses his family background in Denver; his attraction to contemporary avant-garde; his brief time at Harvard, and his mental breakdown and return to Denver; his move to San Francisco in 1954 because of the artistic and literary atmosphere there; meeting Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Duncan and other poets and his initial introduction to the creative community in San Francisco; his friendships with Jordan Belsen, Michael McClure, Wally Hedrick and Jay DeFeo; the San Francisco Renaissance, the beat era, and what it means to be "beat;" the distinction in intensity between bohemianism and the resurrection of the self during the beat era, the social impact of the anti-establishment movement; and the difference between artists and political activists.
Jordan discusses his influences and important moments in his experimental film career; the surrealist methods for social changes as seen in film; the west coast filmmakers focus on the interior and mystical; the rivalry in the film world; his association with Bruce Conner and their founding a film society together in 1956 and establishing an experimental theater; meeting Joseph Cornell and his invitation to assist him with films, their time spent together, Cornell as a filmmaker, preparing Cornell boxes, and the influence of Cornell on is own art. He discusses his own art; his role as an artist in society; the religious aspect in his art; his place in the avant-garde film world; the major influences in his art; and the concept of death and the celebration of the mind as a major theme in his film and artwork.
He recalls Wallace Berman, Stan Brackage, Bruce Conner, Jay DeFeo, Maya Deren, Robert Duncan, Max Ernst, Allen Ginsberg, Wally Hedrick, George Herms, Jess, Patricia Jordan, Michael McClure, Bruce Nauman, and Kenneth Rexroth.
Biographical / Historical:
Larry Jordan (1934- ) is a filmmaker and collagist from Petaluma, Calif.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators. Funding for the transcription of this interview provided by the Pasadena Art Alliance.
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.