The murals were for El Chico's located at 80 Grove Street in Greenwich Village. (FK178)
Edward Alden Jewell reproduced the brochure of the "Problem for Critics" exhibition and included photographs of a work by Picasso and a watercolour by Rothko. He also included a supplementary statement by Howard Putzel in which Putzel argued that whereas the European Cubists worked from reality to abstraction the new American artists began with "a kind of automatism" and then worked toward reality. Jewell noted that looking at the paintings it was impossible to tell whether the artist was working toward or away from reality and that "it would be very interesting to learn just what the artists concerned have to say about all this."
Rothko took him up on his offer and sent in a statement which appeared in The New York Times in the next Sunday edition (July 8, 1945). Rather than declaring his adherence to material reality in his letter (as he had done in his personal statement for the Porter exhibition), he wrote of "symbols" and the importance of the "inner self."
Mark Rothko [from the letter to The N.Y. Times]:
If there are resemblances between archaic forms and our own symbols, it is not because we are consciously derived from them but rather because we are concerned with similar states of consciousness and relationship to the world... If previous abstractions paralleled the scientific and objective preoccupations of our times, ours are finding a pictorial equivalent for man's new knowledge and consciousness of his more complex inner self. (RO210-11)
To the Art Editor:
The myth that so-called abstract painting is merely a preliminary to realistic painting still deludes many people, including some painters. Painting is the making of images. All painters strive for the image but some produce only effigies. This outcome is determined not by the degree of resemblance to natural objects; rather it is by the invention of symbols transcending resemblance that imagery is made possible. If the painter's conception is realized in the form of an image, we are confronted with a new natural object which has its own life, its own beauty and its own wisdom.
The address first appeared on a letter from Rothko to Barnett Newman dated July 31, 1945. (RO609n55) It was a small second-floor apartment located about a seafood restaurant. The living room served as Rothko's studio. Dorothy Miller later commented that it was "amazing that he could paint in such a limited space." (RO254)
Breton's admirer and friend of Gorky and his wife, Jeanne Reynal, was also in Reno at the time and looked after Claro and Breton. (MS296).
Breton had met Elisa Claro in early 1944 at a restaurant popular with émigrés - Chez Larre. She would be Breton's third and final wife. Breton's book, Arcane 17 - written while Claro and Breton were visiting Canada (c. summer - October 1944) was largely inspired by Elisa. (FR/AJ) Jacqueline Lamba, Breton's previous wife, had been having an affair since 1943 with David Hare who worked with Breton on VVV. Breton was aware of the affair. During the summer of 1943 Lamba and Hare stayed with Breton in a rented house in Hampton Bays where he wrote his epic poem Les Etats Genereaux. (AX) In Reno Breton was both married (to Claro) and divorced (from Lamba).
Barnett Newman was on vacation in Provincetown where he made a number of drawings. He also met the architect and artist Tony Smith who would become a close friend. (MH) According to Thomas Hess, Newman "went back to a series of drawings he had begun the year before, pinned them up on the walls of a beach-shack studio, and raced through a series of new ones, as fast as they would come, in chalks, oil crayons, ink, watercolour - any medium that lent itself to rapid execution." (TH28) Newman would later say that his idea at the time "was that with an automatic move, you could create a world." (TH28) According to Thomas Hess, "Casting about for ideas, he [Barnett Newman] went back to a series of drawings he had begun the year before, pinned them up on the walls of a beach-shack studio, and raced through a series of new ones, as fast as they would come, in chalks, oil crayons, ink, watercolour - any medium that lent itself to rapid execution." (TH28) Newman did not show his work to his friends and many of the works were destroyed. (TH28)
From Barnett Newman by Thomas Hess:
In the summer of of 1945, Newman worked with an energy and enthusiasm that would increase over the next ten years. He concentrated on two themes - the new seed with its leaf-wings and the abstract landscape over which it flies... The landscapes curl with new growths. There are hints of Gorky's visceral-vegetable sexual pastures in these drawings and perhaps of Gorky's sources in Kandinsky's early Improvisations (which had long been available to New York artists in the Guggenheim Museum of Non-Objective Painting)... Only three of the pictures are titled: Gea, The Slaying of Osiris and The Song of Orpheus.
Barnett Newman [from "The New Sense of Fate," 1945]:
The war, as the Surrealists predicted, has robbed us of our hidden terror, as terror can only exist if the forces of tragedy are unknown. We now know the terror to expect. Hiroshima showed it to us. We are no longer then in the face of a mystery. After all, wasn't it an American boy who did it? The terror has indeed become as real as life. What we now have is a tragic rather than a terror situation. After more than two thousand years we have finally arrived at the tragic position of the Greek and we have achieved this Greek state of tragedy because we have at last ourselves invented a new sense of all-pervading fate, a fate that is for the first time for modern man as real and as intimate as the Greeks' fate was to them... In this new tragedy that is playing itself out on a Greek-like stage under a new sense of fate that we have ourselves created, shall we artists make the same error as the Greek sculptors and play with an art of over-refinement, an art of quality, of sensibility, of beauty? Let us rather, like the Greek writers, tear the tragedy to shreds. (TH28)
According to Milton Avery, Putzel's death was "much to the regret of Adolph Gottlieb and Rothko as Putzel was pushing them and they expected to have two shows this coming season." (RO231)
The new addition to the family had long black hair and Gorky referred to her as "my little pine tree." (MS296)
Agnes Magruder [from a letter to Jeanne Reynal dated August 23, 1945]:
Imagine the horror irony of lying in a maternity ward with every denomination of humanity & their little ones & hearing & reading of the atomic bomb - Sometimes I feel we are dinosaurs indeed there is another world where men breathe & breed disaster & death. One wants to grip life by the scruff of the neck and assert its reality. (MS297/original grammar retained.)
America dropped their second atomic bomb on Nagasaki just two days after the first atomic bomb ("Little Boy") was dropped on Hiroshima.
Aline Louchheim reported in the article that sales of art were 37% higher than 1944. She noted that young art collectors were buying paintings to decorate their apartments and that 62% of all purchases were made by businessmen, 28% by professionals, 2% by students and 7% by soldiers. (SG93/226)
The Kadishes were renting a small two room "fishing shack" in Amagasett near the eastern tip of Long Island where they were house hunting. One of the properties they were shown was a farmhouse on Fireplace Road in the Springs which Krasner thought would actually make a nice home for her and Jackson. When she broached the idea with Jackson his reaction was "Leave New York? Are you crazy?" (JP156) When they returned to New York, however, Jackson changed his mind. After a week back in New York Jackson and Lee returned to Fireplace Road. The property they had viewed had already been sold but a Victorian farmhouse was available for $5,000. A local bank offered them a mortgage of $3,000 if they could come up with the additional $2,000. They returned to New York. (JP157)
Guston and his family moved from Iowa City to St. Louis where Guston served as the Artist in Residence at Washington University until 1947.
From A Critical Study of Philip Guston by Dore Ashton:
In St. Louis, far from the calm vistas of cornfields in Iowa, he [Philip Guston] began to do some sketching in the slums. For his forays in the jazz quarter, he had an excellent guide in William Inge, a Kansas-born writer of Guston's age who was drama editor for the St. Louis Star-Times and who edited the culture page until 1946 when he joined the English department of the university. Inge, later to become famous as a playwright, had long specialized in jazz and took Guston to little bars where they would eat spareribs and talk blues. Perhaps they talked about Inge's own work, which paralleled Guston's Iowa period in its description of small towns, with their 'mysterious quiet that precedes a Kansas cyclone,' as Inge put it. (DA73)
The Wave, c. 1942-44, Willem de Kooning
oil on fiberboard 48 x 48 in., (Smithsonian American Art Museum - Gift from the Vincent Melzac Collection)
Included Willem de Kooning (The Wave), Richard Pousette-Dart, Adolph Gottlieb, Clyfford Still, Stanley William Hayter and Wolfgang Paalen. (SS379) The exhibition was the only exhibition at Art of This Century that included work by Gottlieb. (AG42)
The Hebbeln "glass house"
Life magazine, February 16, 1948
The Gorkys had been staying at David Hare's property in Roxbury Connecticut. They were originally supposed to move out at the beginning of the summer but Hare allowed them to stay through Agnes' pregnancy. The Hebbelns also had a home in Connecticut. Arshile and Agnes had met Jean Hebbeln through Serge Chermayeff, a Russian-born architect who they had met during the summer of 1941 in San Francisco. They were introduced to Jean Hebbeln at Chermayeff's New York apartment before they left for Agnes' parents farm, Crooked Run Farm, in Virginia in late May 1943.
The Hebbelns were converting an old farmhouse and barn in Sherman, about 15 miles from Roxbury where Hare lived. After the renovations the Hebbeln house in Sherman would be called their "glass house" because they replaced one of the walls with a glass one. Initially the Hebbelns were to rent their property to Gorky but it wasn't finished yet so the Hebbelns were still living there when Gorky and his family moved in. There were two small buildings linked by a patio which served as a communal living room. The hill behind the property had waterfalls. (MS295)
Around the time of the move to the Hebbeln house, Gorky sent a number of works to his dealer, Julien Levy, including Diary of a Seducer (1945) which was included in the Whitney Annual that opened in November.
Gorky had an increasingly uncomfortable pain in his anal area and saw a New York specialist on the advice of the local doctor in Connecticut. He was diagnosed with haemorrhoids and told to stay off his feet, sit in a hot bath twice a day and watch what he ate. Although he followed his doctor's advice the pain and bleeding continued. In November Agnes wrote to Jeanne Reynal, "He [Gorky] felt so badly yesterday for he gets very frightened at the sight of blood that I was about to take him to the doctor whom poor man I had lambasted on the telephone." (MS298)
The official surrender by Japan took place on board the U.S. Battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay at 9.04 a.m. on September 2, 1945.
Stuart Davis [from an interview with Sidney Simon, curator of Davis' exhibition at the Walker Art Center, 1957]:
... the fact that the war years were ended and the fact that the activities in the arts could be given more attention by the public and the institutions concerned with it in general, in other words that the audience response was, had come back to life again had a stimulating effect on the work itself. It made one feel that to meet the new opportunities that one had to do more pictures. Also, it became apparent that there was a developing vogue for larger paintings which I think is all to to the good because the very fact of size, while not a qualitative thing in itself, nevertheless had something, made one feel that to paint large pictures had some correspondence in a large attitude toward the worthwhileness of Art. So that I would say that since 45 I've done more paintings than I did previously and that I've worked in larger sizes and that in connection with the, with the opportunity to see my work in the Modern Museum retrospective - it allowed me to develop on the basis that I had previously established in larger and simpler forms and in addition to that, the increased interest by the audience, that is to say people in general and the development of institutional interest in art, college art departments and so on, that rather large and rapid development meant that the possibility of sales increased - it gave one not only the desire to make more pictures and bigger pictures but it produced a little more money so that one could do it...
Parsons had previously run the gallery at the Wakefield bookshop.
Different sources give different dates for Parson's involvement with the Mortimer Brandt Gallery. According to Malcolm Goldstein in Landscape with Figures: A History of Art Dealing in the United States "Late in 1944 the Wakefield's owners closed the gallery. Parsons was not long out of work, however. It was at this time that Mortimer Brandt invited her to take charge of the contemporary section of his gallery at 15 East Fifty-seventh Street. At last she would have a salary: Forty dollars a week." (FG251). This is in the agreement with the Barnett Newman Foundation's Chronology which states "Near the end of 1944, Betty Parsons leaves the Wakefield Gallery to become the director of modern art for the Mortimer Brandt Gallery..." (MH)
Writer Serge Guilbaut placed Parsons' move to Mortimer Brandt earlier - in March 1943. According to Guilbaut in How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art, "In March of that year , the Mortimer Brandt Gallery, which specialized in old masters, opened an experimental wing devoted to contemporary art and directed by Betty Parsons." (SG98)
Parsons herself, however, recalled that the move to Brandt's gallery happened later - after the war. According to her "Mortimer Brandt had an old-masters gallery in New York and asked me to run a contemporary section for him after the War. I agreed and began by showing a lot of people who have since become famous, like [Arshile] Gorky and [Ad] Reinhardt." (AD22)
Their apartment was located above a garage on a small estate. According to Kline's wife, Elizabeth, the apartment was haunted by redcoats from the Revolutionary War. Kline commuted on a daily basis to his studio in Manhattan at 148 West Fourth Street. (FK178)
Autumn 1945: Elaine de Kooning sails to Provincetown with Bill Hardy. (DK213)
Bill Hardy was a physicist with the Sperry Chemical Company and a friend of de Kooning's neighbour, Edwin Denby. Although not an artist himself, Hardy socialized with many of the artists and musicians in downtown New York. Although Elaine insisted that her relationship with Hardy was purely platonic, the artist Ibram Lassaw later recalled that de Kooning was "pissed off" about it. Elaine returned from her trip with Hardy in December. (DK214)
Included were works by William Baziotes, David Hare, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Charles Seliger, Jimmy Ernst, Peter Busa, Richard Pousette-Dart and Clyfford Still. (MD281)
Guggenheim had become interested in Clyfford Still as a result of the intervention of Mark Rothko who had initially met Still in Berkeley in the summer of 1943 at the home of musicologist Earle Blew. They didn't discuss painting at the time, but Rothko managed to see Still's work in his studio after he moved to New York. (RO205/221)
I continued postponing an invitation for him [Rothko] to visit me. One evening he came to my studio uninvited. After seeing some of the canvases I had stretched, he became visibly excited and asked permission to tell Peggy Guggenheim about them. (RO221)
When Guggenheim gave Still a solo show in February 1946, Rothko wrote an essay about him in the catalogue. According to Hedda Sterne, "Clifford Still's vision liberated him [Rothko]." (RO221) According to art writer Katherine Kuh, Rothko told her that "Clyff had been a tremendous influence in his thinking and in giving him courage" and that Still "gave Mark the freedom to be himself or to be something even better than himself." (RO223)
We [Rothko and Still] were complete opposites. He was a big man. he would sit like a Buddha, chain-smoking. We came from different sides of the world. He was thoroughly immersed in Jewish culture. But we had grown up only a few hundred miles apart. We had read many of the same things. And we could walk through the park together and talk about anything. (RO221)
By the time he reached the age of forty de Kooning's paintings had only been shown in four or five shows and only one painting by him had been purchased by a collector outside his circle of friends in downtown New York. (DK208)
According to Edwin Denby, "In the mid-forties de Kooning was poorer than ever." Elaine was also trying to paint with even less success than her husband. She sold a self-portrait to her sister in 1946 for $20 which Elaine described as "good money" (DK211). Denby also encouraged her write short ballet reviews for the New York Herald Tribune which Denby also wrote for. (DK211) Elaine's brother recalled that "in 1946 or 1947" de Kooning tried to fill out a tax form only to find out that he hadn't actually earned enough to be taxed. (DK212)
Although the juried exhibition was normally an international one (the Carnegie International) this year 350 American artists were invited to participate. Guston won first prize ($1,000) for Sentimental Moment. George Grosz won second place ($700) for The Survivor. Third place went to Franklin C. Watkins. Honourable mentions included Samuel Rosenberg, O. Louis Guglielmi and Philip Evergood.
("Prizewinners," Time, October 22, 1945)
Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner get married at the Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue in New York. Harold Rosenberg's wife, May Tabak, was the witness. (PP321). After May agreed to be one of the witnesses, Lee approached Peggy Guggenheim who agreed to be the second witness, but about a week later, told Lee she would be unable to do so because she had a lunch appointment with a collector on the day of the wedding. "Besides" she told Lee, "you're married enough." When Lee told Jackson that Peggy had dropped out, Jackson thought about dropping out as well if the wedding was going to be so complicated. (JP158)
Lee was Jewish and initially insisted on marrying in a synagogue. Although Jackson agreed, they were unable to get a Rabbi who would marry them and ended up marrying at the Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue in New York. (JP158)
May Rosenberg :
I got out the and called every church listed. When they heard that an Orthodox Jew was marrying a Presbyterian, they weren't interested. Finally I tried the Dutch Reformed Church. They agreed to do it. I told them we wouldn't be having any people and we needed a second witness. They thought I was from out of town. Who in New York doesn't have two friends? (JP159)
The janitor of the church served as the second witness. After the ceremony May Rosenberg took the newlyweds to Shrafft's for lunch.
It was a second, expanded, edition of the book which had originally been published in 1928. The new edition featured a reproduction of Magritte's Le Modèle Rouge on the front cover. Marcel Duchamp had written to Breton in Reno on July 2, 1945 with his suggestion for the cover: "Take the bare feet, Magritte's shoes. Instead of black, make a print in sanguine on pink paper (or just white). This bloodshot reproduction would be imprinted in the middle of the board and also imprinted your name, the title of the book... and Brentano's below." (DW)
The image was also used as part of the Brentano's window display for the book. Swiss artist Isabelle Waldberg, who lived in New York from 1941 - 1946, contributed a mask to the Brentano's display. On November 10, 1945 she wrote to her husband in Paris "Yesterday morning, we did the window at Brentano's Surréalisme et la peinture. Marcel [Duchamp] naturally did everything, all design and execution. Here’s a drawing of it." (DW)
The penultimate chapter of the expanded edition was André Breton's essay, The Eye-Spring: Arshile Gorky, written for the catalogue of Gorky's first solo exhibition which took place at the Julien Levy Gallery earlier in the year from March 6 - 31, 1945.
After viewing the property and returning to New York (see August 1945 above), Krasner had approached Peggy Guggenheim about the $2,000 she needed for the property to supplement the bank's offer of a mortgage of $3,000. Guggenheim told her she was a gallery, not a bank and suggested that Krasner get a job. "Why don't you ask Sam Kootz for the money?" she asked sarcastically. Lee did ask Kootz who agreed to lend her the money providing that Jackson change to his gallery. When Lee told Peggy, she was outraged but agreed to loan them the money, later saying that "it was the only way to get rid of Lee." (JP157)
According to an interview given by Kootz' wife, Joyce, in 1985, Kootz had actually asked a drunken Jackson Pollock to leave his gallery one Saturday afternoon when Pollock started shouting, "I'm better than all the fucking painters on these walls!" Because of Jackson's alcoholism, Kootz was not interested in taking him on. (JP173)
Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock
walking from Jackson's new studio in the Springs
(Photographer unknown) (JG)
The farmhouse was located at 830 Fireplace Road, Springs, East Hampton, Long Island. Their backyard looked out on Accabonac Creek. Robert Motherwell owned four acres in East Hampton where he was having a house built which was designed by the French emigre architect, Pierre Chareau. While it was being built he stayed in a rented farmhouse in the Springs. He and his wife Maria would stop by the Pollocks a few times a week to drive them to town for groceries (as neither Jackson nor Lee had a car at the time) and they occasionally had dinner with them. The Pollocks' farmhouse lacked hot water and a bathroom and they spent much of the winter of 1945-6 fixing up the place. Jackson stopped painting during this period. (PP321/JP161)
Other artists who would also live in the Springs included Willem de Kooning, Conrad Marca-Relli and Ibram Lassaw. (Helen Frankenthaler would rent Marca-Relli's house during the summer of 1955). When Selden Rodman arrived at Jackson's place in 1956 to interview him for his book, Conversations with Artists, Rodman wrote that he "noticed Julian Levi's [sic] mailbox on one side of his [Pollock's] house and Corrado [Conrad] Marca-Relli's on the other." (CW81)
As was often the case during the 1940s the Pollock's telephone line was a shared service (or "party") line which they shared with a local resident, Mrs. Elwyn Harris. She later recalled about Jackson that "He used to drink a lot and tie up my line talking to his artist friends from New York." (JP161)
Standing L to R: Bernard Reis, Irene Francis, Esteve Francés, Elena Calas, Arshile Gorky Enrico Donati, Nicolas Calas. Seated L to R: Steffi Kiesler, Andre Breton, Mougouch, Max Ernst Becky Reis, Elisa Breton, Patricia Matta, Frederick Kiesler, Nina Lebel, Matta Echaurren, Marcel Duchamp. (Austrian Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation, Vienna) (MT363)
The farewell dinner took place at La Parisienne on West Forty-sixth Street. (HH499) Breton had arranged a cultural tour of Haiti and the French West Indies through the French Embassy. Among those attending his farewell dinner, arranged by Matta and his new wife Patricia, were Arshile Gorky, Max Ernst, Frederick Kiesler and Marcel Duchamp. As usual, they played the Surrealist game of Truth ("Le jeu de la verité") after dinner. (HH499) Agnes was asked "What part of a woman's body do you kiss attentively when you go to bed with her?" She answered, "It's never happened. I don't understand the question." Everybody laughed and Breton said she was either telling the truth or she was lying and if she was lying she could have thought up a more interesting answer. When the bill came for the dinner Matta and Patricia disappeared and the diners had to pay for their meals themselves. (Their disappearance was considered a Surrealist action - at least by Matta.) Gorky's wife, Agnes, later wrote to Jeanne Reynal "We were all suddenly asked to pay the bill - André was in a rage from start to finish but I began to think they just love to be outraged." (HH499)
Soon after Elaine returned from Provincetown where she had gone in the autumn with Bill Hardy, she and Bill were evicted form their 22nd Street loft and moved into an apartment on Carmine Street in Greenwich Village, off Sixth Avenue (DK214) The apartment had previously been rented by Milton Resnick. It was a smaller apartment but cheaper. The rent was $18 a month whereas 22nd Street had been $35 a month. Bill set up his easel in one corner and Elaine set up her easel in another corner.
Unfortunately Bill was unable to move his expensive Capehart sound system to the new apartment. It had blown up in the 22nd Street apartment when another tenant in the building was attempting to convert the electricity system from an alternating to direct current. (DK215)
The price listed in the show's catalogue for Kline's work was an ambitious $500. Two years later Kline would do additional work on the painting at the Orrs' home where he occasionally worked during the 1940s. In an attempt to lighten the paintings' tones he painted out the entire picture. (FK178)
Edward Alden Jewell [from The New York Times review of the show]:
The National Academy is now well over a hundred years of age... I suspect the National Academy itself would estimate that the first hundred years were the easiest... This year, for instance, the fact leaked out that the jury, which had been 'very stern' in the matter of exclusions while the pictures were pouring in, experienced a sort of eleventh-hour panic. Gravely dissatisfied with the show as it then promised to be, the Academy sent out an urgent call to some eleven first-string painters, assuring them that if only they would submit, their pictures would be accepted without debate. The painters acceded... and four of the jury-free offerings actually got prizes. Yes, the situation had been desperate... the exhibition is so academic that even unacademic work more or less succumbs, in effect to the prevalent aura... There are good things on hand, but they have to struggle to survive the accompaniment of so much correct, determined pleasantness. (Edward Alden Jewell, "ACADEMY, PORTRAITS, BRONZES; Assets and Debits," The New York Times, December 9, 1945 (Sunday), section: Arts and Leisure, p. 59)
The premises had previously been used as a studio by Marca-Relli. Franz and Elizabeth would live there until the autumn of 1947. (FK178)
On Christmas day David Hare, Jacqueline and Aube (Jacqueline's daughter from her marriage with André Breton) visited the Hebbeln house in Sherman, Connecticut where Gorky and Agnes were living. The day after Christmas Agnes flew to Washington with the children to see their grandparents. While in Washington Agnes consulted with Ethel Schwabacher's husband, a lawyer, in regard to Gorky's financial arrangement with Julien Levy. Gorky was obligated to supply Levy with more canvases but wasn't particularly happy with the work he was producing and didn't want to give it to Levy. Julien had given him $100 for the cost of materials, but according to Gorky biographer, Matthew Spender, "nothing permanent had been discussed." (MS301) When Gorky wrote to his wife in Washington in early January, he commented, "I have been working very hard I will come to New York when you are there. Julien has send his check, but we have very many bills this month." (MS302)