Art & photography

Reid, Sir Norman (13 of 13). National Life Story Collection: Artists' Lives.

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  • Recording date

    2000-02-03, 2000-04-12, 2000-12-20, 2005-03-29, 2005-05-06

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home.

  • Interviewees

    Reid, Sir Norman, 1915-, (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Courtney, Cathy (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 13. Sir Norman Reid’s [NR] memories of Lilian Somerville of the British Council; her toughness compared with that of Peggy Guggenheim [PG]. [Break in recording.] NR talks about visiting PG; brief mention of staff, atmosphere; recalls party they went to – first time PG had met Max Ernst [ME] since separation; other partygoers. ME’s character; NR’s first time meeting ME; ME “beautiful man” and “best of the Surrealist artists”; remarks on PG’s relationship with ME. PG’s “complicated” life; fractious relationship with daughter, Pegeen, who predeceased her; PG liked NR because his voice like Herbert Read, her art advisor; PG a flirt. PG and Ben Nicholson; PG’s support for Jackson Pollock and the New York school; NR took time adjusting to Pollock’s technique – “I think there is a point [in art] where you stop and say, ‘That’s not for me, you know, I don’t believe in that.’ – allusion to Tracy Emin’s bed. NR’s response to Tate’s American shows of the 1950s, “a revelation”; “mixed” response of British press and artists to first show. Anecdote about first trip to America; his impressions of New York; America tax law “great” for public collections and private collectors; Roy Neuberger obtains for the Tate special dispensation to receive American works without donor paying tax, “great thing”. Description of Naum Gabo’s house in Middlebury, Connecticut, garage turned into studio; NR helps Gabo restore early work for exhibition; some of the work now in Tate permanently. NR describes his acceptance of abstract sculpture; explains his dislike of “sculptures of ideas”, allusion to Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde series, “ephemeral”; describes his continued “surprise and delight” at Gabo’s work.

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Reid, Sir Norman (13 of 13). National Life Story Collection: Artists' Lives.

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