Sidney Peterson

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Sidney Peterson (November 15, 1905, Oakland, California – April 24, 2000, New York City) was an American writer, artist, and avant-garde filmmaker. He attended UC Berkeley, worked as a newspaper reporter in Monterey, and spent time as a practicing painter and sculptor in France in the 1920s and 1930s. After World War II, Peterson founded Workshop 20 at the California School of Fine Arts (renamed the San Francisco Art Institute), initiating filmmaking courses at the school.[1]

Between 1947 and 1950 the workshop produced five films under Peterson's guidance that were influential on the burgeoning American avant-garde cinema, and significant artifacts of the San Francisco Renaissance.[2][3] In the years that followed, Peterson worked as a consultant for the Museum of Modern Art, made a series of documentary films, penned a novel (A Fly in the Pigment, 1961) and a memoir (The Dark of the Screen, 1980), and worked at Walt Disney Productions as a scriptwriter and storyboard artist on the never completed sequel to Fantasia.[4]

He died in New York City at the age of 94. Peterson's films are distributed by Canyon Cinema in San Francisco and The Film Makers Cooperative in New York City.[5]

A 2007 comic strip by Dave Kiersh in Syncopated Volume 3 (Syncopated Comics, 2007) tells of his relationship with Peterson, who was a friend of Kiersh's grandmother.[6][7]

On December 30, 2009, the Library of Congress named Peterson's The Lead Shoes (1949) to the National Film Registry.[8][9]

Selected filmography[edit]

  • The Potted Psalm (1946) with James Broughton
  • Horror Dream (1947)
  • The Cage (1947)
  • The Petrified Dog (1948)
  • Clinic of Stumble (1948)
  • Mr. Frenhofer and the Minotaur (1949)
  • The Lead Shoes (1949)
  • Architectural Millinery (1954)
  • Man in a Bubble (1981)


  1. ^ "Sidney Peterson Biography". Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  2. ^ The New York Times, 4 Experimental Works by Sidney Peterson, Vincent Canby, page 27, 23 January 1975
  3. ^ Dargis, Manohla (5 May 2011). "San Francisco, the Crossroads of the Avant-Garde". The New York Times.
  4. ^ http://committeewomen/2000/05/08/arts/sidney-peterson-94-surrealist-filmmaker.html[permanent dead link] retrieved 5 July 2015
  5. ^ Retrieved 5 July 2015. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Blogger". Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  7. ^ Retrieved 5 July 2015. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing | Film Registry | National Film Preservation Board | Programs | Library of Congress". Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  9. ^ "Michael Jackson, the Muppets and Early Cinema Tapped for Preservation in 2009 Library of Congress National Film Registry". Retrieved 5 July 2015.

External links[edit]