Smith, Richard (8 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

  • Interviewees

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

  • Interviewers

    Courtney, Cathy, 1954- (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 8: [2:47:52] Differences RS and Hamilton’s use of advertising in their work. RS’s continuing enjoyment of advertising; continues to use box image in his work. [1:47] RS exhibited in 1954 Young Contemporaries. [2:53] Pauline Boty. RS met Derek Boshier on return from New York, remains in contact; Boshier’s work. David Hockney. Howard Hodgkin. Tony Messenger. Drugs not part of RS’s RCA life. Joe Tilson; Joslyn Tilson; Jake Tilson; Anna Tilson. [coughs]. Tilson’s house in Italy. Patrick Caulfield and his wife; RS owned Caulfield’s painting of diamond ring, later sold it (to Paul Cornwall-Jones) in order to buy Wiltshire house. Tilsons; Peter Blake; Joe Tilson’s work. Mentions Tilson’s home in Venice. [16:43] RS’s further visit to Venice and Rome, c 1957, with Lawrence Alloway; visited Peggy Guggenheim; exhibition in Rome of young British artists. RS met Alloway whilst at RCA. ICA, Richard Hamilton; Fluxus event; anecdote re Peter Blake painting of an apple. Roland Penrose; Lee Miller later visited RS in Wiltshire. RS’s uncle by marriage, a photographer during Second World War, took photo of Miller in Hitler’s bath. Lee Miller. [27:30] RS’s Wiltshire home. Lee Miller. RS doesn’t use camera a great deal. Phone call in recent years from man whom RS knew when in RAF, man subsequently came to RS’s London exhibition. RS not a great user of sketchbooks. [30: 25] RS and ICA exhibition 1957 Five Painters. William Green, the Mahler Society, Ken Russell coming to film Green, Green exception at this time as celebrity. Mention of John Barnicote. Peter Coviello. RS’s paintings in ICA 1957 exhibition; Everly 1, Everly 2, Sky Limit. Transition from painting on hardboard to canvas. RS painting Blue and the Roots. Hearing Gerry Mulligan Quartet; RS’s Mulligan haircut. Relationship with parents c 1957; friendships in Letchworth, recent contact. Doesn’t remember parents coming to RCA or to ICA; they were proud of RS. [41:38] Roger Coleman. [42:36] Autumn 1959 exhibition, Place, at ICA; RS, Denny, Ralph Rumney; rules for exhibition; RS’s work made at RCA over summer. RS and use of pink in paintings. Rumney and Denny’s comments re RS’s use of colour in Place; rules for exhibition, Rumney, Denny and RS selected selves for exhibition. Rumney; Pegeen Helion [Pegeen Guggenheim]. Party for ICA Place exhibition, party for RS because he was going away. [50:36] Advice from RCA re future was for people to get part-time teaching at London art school; RS taught at Hammersmith, including teaching life class. [53:48] Bernard Cohen, his paintings; mentions Harold Cohen. RS was living in Turnham Green prior to going to America; Peter Blake, Blake’s commission to do illustrations for butcher; RS’ expectations re earning a living. [58:05] Thinks Carel Weight suggested RS to committee for Harkness Fellowship. Harold Cohen, RS given Fellowships. RS took Queen Mary out of Southampton; arriving NYC, met by Harold Cohen. Early days in NYC; accommodation; MM; serious fire, probably started by RS. [1:08:20] RS went to meet Ellsworth Kelly in his loft, friendship with Kelly; Agnes Martin in same building, work in her studio. Kelly’s paintings; Kelly. [1:12:36] RS became close to Bob Indiana [Robert Indiana]; Indiana’s work. Happenings; Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, Chippy Irvine, friend of RS from RCA, performed in Happenings; recent show at Whitney [Museum of American Art] re Happenings; Lucas Samaras. Barbara Rose asked RS his memories of Happenings, small number of people saw them. Oldenburg’s work, Oldenburg showed at Green Gallery where RS showed; Oldenburg. [1:17:00] RS arrived in NYC 1959; 1960 was sharing loft space on Howard Street with Ron Slowinski [Ronald Slowinski], illegal to live in loft but did so; mentions Chippy; stretcher-maker, Americans called stretcher ‘chassis’; suppliers re rolls of canvas. RS’s painting of grey-purple triangle; RS would wait for bus in Times Square, source of subjects, neon signs, including one which revolved and became an image for painting; painting with green frame and pink heart, Ladies’ Home Journal (?). Worked from memory of Times Square, details one particular painting of this period, work which RS intended to send to Situation; RS mentions thinking of self as abstract painter, way in which he was using populist imagery; reasons for not including writing in the paintings. Other paintings of this period; Max Factor; working pattern at this time; happiness with work of this period, painting, Patty, Maxene, LaVerne (names of Andrews Sisters). [1:28:05] Visit to RS’s studio by Henry Geldzahler, curator at Metropolitan Museum, led to RS showing at Green Gallery, NYCs; visits to RS’s studio from Ivan Karp, Richard Bellamy and from curator of Jewish Museum. RS to Toronto for Christmas to stay with friend, Enid Irving and her family; call from Bellamy asking to see RS. [1:32:00] 1961 RS’s first show at Green Gallery. Bellamy had previously run gallery with Ivan Karp; Bellamy had backing from Robert Scull; other painters Bellamy showed; buyers for RS paintings via Bellamy included Hirshhorn, Richard Brown Baker, RS felt prosperous and successful; Green Gallery, 57th Street. RS’s paintings in first Green Street show; show was reconstructed for RS’s big Tate exhibition; Ladies’ Home Journal, Chase Manhattan, Patty, Maxene, LaVerne, painting RS discussed re Times Square; pricing of the work. RS met Hirshhorn and Richard Brown Baker; Baker gave his RS paintings to Yale. Ordover (sp?), another buyer of RS’s work. [1:37:25] Henry Geldzahler. 1965, when BS and RS moved to W 81st Street were in same building as Geldzahler; RS’ studio in 8th Avenue at this time; Geldzahler recommended RS as artist in residence at University of Virginia. Ivan Karp. [1:41:30] Harold Cohen in NYC during RS’ Harkness Fellowship; visited Clement Greenberg together; Greenberg’s support of colour field painters whose work RS liked; Greenberg’s wife, Jennifer. Mentions Kenneth Noland. Greenberg not an advocate of RS’s work. Term ‘pop art’. Richard Hamilton show in NYC; RS took Polaroid. [1:45:10] RS’s Howard Street loft space. NYC light; refers to beauty of day on September 11 2001. Enid Irving, her marriage and move to Canada. Paula Cooper. RS’s Colombian girlfriend during first period in NYC; dancing. Jazz clubs, first experience of smoking pot [marijuana]; Harlem. Clyfford Still show, Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo. RS began to smoke cigarettes in RAF; gave up approx. fifteen years ago; actions associated with smoking. [1:52:31] RS and drugs. [This section closed for 20 years until September 2036: [01:53:35-01:53:57]]. Robyn Denny. Effect of drugs on RS. Marriage of RS and BS, relationship between then now. Further comments drugs. [1:56:40] Ron Slowinski, his wife Martha, his wife when sharing loft space with RS. RS’s work after first Green Gallery show; painting named Bellamy. RS’ painting, Penny. [2:00:10] Situation exhibition, London, RS’s paintings didn’t get sent from America so didn’t take part; RS was in second Situation exhibition at Marlborough Gallery (1961). Sylvia Sleigh, wife of Alloway; her group portrait of artists in first Situation exhibition. Alloway’s exhibition of shaped paintings at time RS doing paintings, Sphinx series which stood against wall rather than hanging, Guggenheim sloping floors led to RS quarrel with Alloway. Intention of Sphinx series; painted on RS’s honeymoon on Cape Cod where stayed June-October. [2:07:42] Met the Beatles through photographer Robert Freeman [Bob Freeman]; RS keen on black music but enjoyed Beatles concert; John Lennon and wife, Cynthia, came to RS’ studio; Beatles arrival in NYC [drilling noise in background] Robert Freeman; Plaza Hotel; the Ronettes; BS travelled with Beatles on trip to Washington; BS’s brother, Roland [Roland Scherman], a photographer; GH friendly with Paul McCartney. Sam Green, worked at Green Gallery, a friend of Lennon and Yoko Ono; BS worked for Sam Green for period. [2:15:06] RS’s painting, Panetella, now in Tate; Tate wanting to replace stretcher. Oil paint RS used at this period. [2:17:06] RS’s road trip round America during Harkness Fellowship; driving test NYC; RS first drive alone; drove to Chicago with Slowinski; friend, Alan, in Chicago; impact Chicago architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. Road trip alone after leaving Slowinski in Chicago. [2:28:08] Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, run by Irving Blum. Visited Bruce Conner. Liking for work of artists shown by Ferus Gallery. Art seen in Chicago Institute of Art. Further details road trip while on Harkness Fellowship; taking photographs. [2:36:29] Feelings about America having made road trip in summer 1960. [2:37:30] Impact of art seen in NYC museums; MoMA [Museum of Modern Art]; Dorothy Miller, curator of exhibition Sixteen Americans; Miller took RS to East Hampton, visited artists, met Lee Krasner. Mark Rothko; mentions Paul Huxley’s friendship with Rothko; recent play, Red, about Rothko, Michael Goldberg later had Rothko’s studio, RS would visit Goldberg. FS; black paintings; Barbara Rose wrote RS catalogue for Tate show. [2:42:48] Returned from road trip in August, work in studio on return whilst still in NYC; friendship Edward Avedisian, painter showed with Kasmin and in NYC; party RS gave for Avedisian in London; mentions Tony Messenger. [2:46:00] Graphic designer, David, friend. RS’s visa meant had to return from NYC to Britain, was happy to return but expected to leave again. Joe Tilson. RS found loft in London, former factory for making lampshades.

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