Latham, John, 1921-2006. (4 of 18). National Life Story Collection: Artists' Lives

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  • Recording date

    1998-03-26 and 1998-04-06 and 1999-02-19 and 2000-07-18

  • Recording locations

    Interviewer's home, London, United Kingdom

  • Interviewees

    Latham, John, 1921-2006 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Steveni, Barbara, 1928- (speaker, female), Roberts, Melanie (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 4. John Latham (JL) returns to his time at Chelsea and how Henry Moore's influence filtered across to the painting department. He describes the 'celtic' modernism of Ceri Richards and the much freer work of Robert Medley, as well as Robert Buhler. He notes that there was no manifestation in their teaching (of the early 50's) towards the postmodern. In this respect JL talks of a friend/mentor who introduced him to a range of writers/philosophers including Joyce and Wittgenstein which led him to the conclusion that artists make the best philosophers. JL discusses the effect of Joyce on his work, returning to his theory about the movement of art and science towards parallel conclusions yet decries the various disciplines' resistance to drawing that parallel and to using a common language. John Latham expands on his theories about Reflective Intuitive Organisms and Body Events and the role of intuition, finally relating this to the fragmentary practice of today's young artists and their need to specialise to survive. JL returns briefly to being taught by Ceri Richards in 1951, moving on to the Happenings of the 60s and to moving sculpture such as 'Takisvasillakis' as well as the work of Jean Tinguely and David Medalla. JL notes that he can remember none of his fellow ex-servicemen students becoming 'names' although he felt that they were fully motivated towards art. He talks about the lack of contextual studies at Chelsea and the relatively distant relationship between the tutors and the students in this respect. John Latham elaborates on their and his approach to form and the life model and his personal vision of the process of creativity in which 'taking pains' in the Joshua Reynolds style was counterproductive to discovery - noting that writing is where you really need to do work.

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