Underground Film Journal

Stan Vanderbeek

Extreme close-up of filmmaker Stan Vanderbeek

Stan Vanderbeek (1927-1984) was an American avant-garde filmmaker and a pioneer of expanded film techniques. He was also a major film writer and theorist of the 1960s underground film scene.

Vanderbeek's early work, such as his award-winning Breathdeath, were primarily single-projector film collages of style and technique, combining original live-action footage with animating pop culture images and painting. In his writing, Vanderbeek was the first to use the term "underground film" -- in a 1961 article published in Film Quarterly -- to describe the avant-garde film work of the '60s.

Combining his film theory writing and filmmaking, Vanderbeek evolved into creating multi-screen and multi-projector cinema pieces, that culminated in his invention of the Movie-Drome. Built at his home in Stony Brook, NY, the Movie-Drome had audiences lie on their backs to watch images projected on a curved wall to allow for an immersive visual experience.

Vanderbeek then became an early pioneer of computer animation and combining computerized imagery with film and video. He was an artist-in-residence at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, and was the department chair of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Watch Streaming Films By Stan Vanderbeek:


Euclidean Illusions (1980)
Symmetricks (1972)
Who Ho Ray No. 1 (1972)
Poem Field No. 7 (1971)
Film Form No. 1 (1970)
Found Film No. 1 (1970)
Oh (1968)
Super-Imposition (1968)
Will (1968)
Man and His World (1967)
Panels for the Walls of the World (1967)
Poem Field No. 5: Free Fall (1967)
Spherical Space No. 1 (1967)
T.V. Interview (1967)
If You Say So (1965-66)
Snow Show (1965-66)
Collide-oscope (1966)
When in the Course of (1966– )
Spherical Space (With Elaine Summers) (1966)
Poem Field No. 2 (1966)
Computer Art (number one) (1966)
Wheeels #4 (1958-65)
Revenge of the Looney Spoons (1958-65)
A Damn Rib Bed (1964-65)
Night Eating (1965)
Fluids (1965)
Phenomenon No. 1 (1965)
Facescapes (1965)
The Human Face Is a Monument (1965)
Poem Field No. 1 (1965)
Variation 5 (1965)
Sight (With Bob Morris and Carolee Schneemann) (1965)
Room Service (With Yvonne Rainer) (1965)
Pastorale: Et al (1965)
Move-Movies (1965)
Feedback #1 (1965) (1965)
Birth of the American Flag (1965– )
See, Saw, Seems (1965)
Breathdeath (1963) (Watch Now)
Newsreel of Dreams No. 1 (1964)
Summit (1963)
Croquet Quacks (1962– )
The Life and Death of a Car (1962– )
Kar Bop (1962– )
Wheeels #1 (1958-61)
Skullduggery Part II (1960-61)
Snapshots of the City (1961)
Skullduggery Part I (1960)
Black & Whites, Days & Nights (1960)
Achoo Mr. Kerroochev (1959)
Dance of the Looney Spoons (1959)
Mankinda (1959)
Science Friction (1959)
Visibles (1959)
Wheeeels No. 2 (1959)
Three-Screen-Scene (1958)
Wheeeeels No. 1 (1958)
A La Mode (1957)
Alamo01 (1957)
Astral Man (1957)
What Who How (1957)
Yet (1957)
Street Meet (1957)
Visioniii (1955)


Breathdeath By Stan Vanderbeek
Breathdeath by Stan Vanderbeek (1963). At the EXPRMNTL 3 film competition at Knokke-le-Zoute, Belgium in 1963, Breathdeath tied for 2nd place with Gregory Markopoulos‘s Twice a Man. Both men took home $2,000 in prize money. In An Introduction to the American Underground Film, Sheldon Renan classifies Breathdeath as a “protest film,” which was a minority… Read More…
EXPRMNTL 3: 1963 Recap
1963 was a pivotal year in the history of avant-garde film in the United States. In Visionary Film, P. Adams Sitney calls it “the high point of the mythopoeic development within the American avant-garde.” He explains: [Stan] Brakhage had finished and was exhibiting the first two sections of Dog Star Man by then; Jack Smith… Read More…