Smith, Richard (4 of 24).  National Life Stories: Artists' Lives

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  • Recording date

    2010-09-15, 2010-09-16, 2011-10-03, 2011-10-31, 2011-11-04, 2015-06-24

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's studio at Patchogue, Long Island, America; British Library, London; Richard Smith’s 2011 exhibition at Flowers, Cork Street gallery; Richard Smith’s 2011 exhibition at Flowers, Cork Street gallery

  • Interviewees

    Smith, Richard, 1931-2016 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Courtney, Cathy, 1954- (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 4: [1:35:48] Visit from American cousin, Alfred Hedefine to Letchworth c 1944; impression of America from Alfred’s visit. Aunt Jean, who lived in Chicago and later Tucson, would send Arizona Highways magazine during RS’s childhood. RS conscious of American films from young age, would go to cinema with DS, details. Letchworth civic buildings. [8:13] RS and friend, Noel Haring (furniture designer), had exhibition in Letchworth Museum. [9:57] Further details town of Letchworth. [12:20] Memory of seeing Kurt Jooss production during the War, instinctive liking for avant garde. [13:23] RS’s pre-school memories; ‘How to Draw’ books, DS’s advice re RS’s early drawings. Books in childhood house. [17:02] CS and DS’s personalities; leisure activities, social lives. DS worked after Second World War at corset factory. Family’s economic position in RS’s childhood. RS and childhood; bicycle; piano, music written in white against black background. DS would read and recite to RS. Radio in childhood; theatre. [26:57] Childhood bedroom; wanting to paint room purple, influenced by Ballet de Roland Petit; Jean Cocteau profiles; decorating bedroom chest of drawers aged c 20. [31:34] Didn’t make models as child; at Baptist Sunday School would make tomb of Jesus at Easter. RS part of local group of boys, would fly homemade kites. [33:43] Period when cousin, Paddy, and her parents lived with RS’s family. Large fire-screen as improvised cage for pet rabbits; seeing rabbits killed by dustman. Childhood discipline. [36:58] RS to Westbury Primary School aged 5, details. [38:02] School tried to make RS right-handed; DS stopped this when RS developed stutter. Is left-handed in writing and drawing but right-handed in everything else e.g. tennis. RS and stutter. [39:18] Describes self aged 5. No memory of being classed as a teenager. Early interest in clothes. [42:15] Further details primary school; local orphanage. Awareness of Second World War. [47:01] Visits to London as a child. London theatre and cinema as young teenager; mentions Leicester, Redfern, Tooth galleries, National Gallery; work by Willam Scott, Patrick Heron, Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde, John Bratby. Films seen in London cinemas at this time. [54:00] RS to Pixmore School aged 10. [55:00] Sexuality; mentions Bob Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly. [1:01:42] Mentions RS had show in Venezuela, c1976, kite paintings from this show went to Rio and then Bogata, RS visited Bogata, paintings damaged; RS then went to Venezuela. [1:03:00] Sexuality. Mentions birth of sons, Edward, 1966, and Harry [This section closed for 20 years until September 2036: [01:05:30-01:06:02]]. [1:12:00] Friends now; Malcolm Morley [MM], recent illness. [1:14:00] Sexuality. [1:15:00] RS met future wife, BS, [an American] in London, a former girlfriend of TC and Richard Hamilton; 1963 RS returned to NYC and met BS again, lived together on the Bowery, married in June 1963. [1:18:00] RS’s summer teaching job at Aspen, Colorado; collector had invited group of artists including James Rosenquist, Friedel Dzubas; RS’s studio in miner’s shack on mountainside was vandalised, led to RS first works on pole-supported structures, which were erected on hill, important beginning for RS. [1:20:50] RS’s commission from magazine to make rainbow tent; when taught at Newcastle c 1963 project with student related to rainbow tent; Aspect structures made c 1965. [1:21:52] Further details relationship of having miner’s studio shack vandalised to pieces on pole-supported canvas structure, description of the work. Further details Aspen, Dzubas, Rosenquist, Allan D’Arcangelo. [1:28:57] Dzubas and his wife rented RS’s NYC apartment (RS lived there from 1964 until return to England 1968), same building as Henry Geldzahler and also friend of BS from her days working in advertising. [1:31:31] Further details two months in Aspen; painter, Helen Thomas; RS was teaching rather than being part of group of artists invited to Aspen by collector; student work he kept. [1:35:20] Studio RS later had in Telluride, Colorado.

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