Born in Connecticut in 1936, Lawder attended Williams College and the National Autonomous University of Mexico as an undergraduate, and studied at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. While at the University of Munich, he became a test subject for a neurologist researching phosphenes at around 1960. During these experiments, he was injected with measured amounts of LSD, mescaline and psilocybin, and "spent a whole day in the clinic". In this, he became an early subject of psychedelics. Afterwards, he received his Doctor of Philosophy as an art historian at Yale University. His thesis, which was later published as The Cubist Cinema, examines the correlation between the history of film and its impact on modern art, described as a holistic overview by Anthony Reveaux in Film Quarterly.
His body of work is purported to span over 25 films and his literary works encapsulates several essays on experimental film. His first endeavors with experimental films started in his basement during a sabbatical of his in the late 1960s and early 1970s. One of his works during this span, Necrology, has been cited by fellow filmmaker Hollis Frampton as "the sickest joke I've ever seen on film".
For production of his films Runaway and Corridor, Lawder built his own contact printer using a incandescent light bulb housed within a coffee can. With it, he would process his films by manipulating the brightness of the light bulb, then shined the beam it created through the flashlight tube to the film gate of his camera. All release prints struck from these films were made using this printer by Lawder personally.
- Runaway (1969)
- Corridor (1970)
- Dangling Participle (1970)
- Necrology (1971)
- Color Film (1971)
- Raindance (1972)
- "Ernest Wilhelm Nay: An Evaluation of His Recent Paintings". Art Journal (College Art Association) 21 (2): 101–3. Winter 1961–62. JSTOR 774261.
- ———; Knoll, M.; Kugler, J.; Höfer, O. (1963). "Effects of Chemical Stimulation of Electrically-Induced Phosphenes on their Bandwidth, Shape, Number and Intensity". Sterotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (Basel) 23 (3): 201–26. ISSN 1011-6425 (print); ISSN 1011-6125 (online).
- "Fernand Leger and Ballet Mechanique". Image (London) 2 (6). October 1965.[page needed]
- Sitney, P. Adams, ed. (1975). "Eisenstein and Constructivism". Essential Cinema. 2 (New York University Press: New York) 1. ISBN 978-0814777671.[page needed]
- Gerard, Lillian; Shaw, Elizabeth (3 March 1970). "Cineprobe presents experimental films by Standish Lawder" (Press release). Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
- Halter, Ed (4 December 2007). "Visions of Grandeur". Village Voice. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- "One Night, Standish Lawder". Harvard Film Archive. Harvard University Library. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
- Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film, 1947–1986 (Media notes). Image Entertainment. 2008. NATD4737DVD. Archived from the original on 6 September 2011.
- "Stu Brown Sextet: Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals" (Press release). no.w.here. 14 October 2008. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Reveaux, Anthony (Summer 1976). "The Cubist Cinema by Standish D. Lawder". Film Quarterly 29 (4): 27–9. doi:10.2307/1211605.
- Toscano, Mark (28 November 2007). "A contact printer". Preservation Insanity. Blogger. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
- Toscano, Mark (19 October 2008). "Creative Soundtracking No. 2". Preservation Insanity. Blogger. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
- "Standish Lawder biography". The Visual Arts Department at UC San Diego. University of California, San Diego. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013.