Smith, Richard (9 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 9: [Session three: 3 October 2011] [2:56:37] RS on evening after second recording session went to view potential home and studio in block built for artists in Patchogue; glad now not to have got a space, pleased still to be living with son, daughter-in-law Bernadette and their three children. [4:25] RS in London for forthcoming exhibition at Flowers Cork Street gallery in November of paintings done in last year. Hasn’t made prints recently due to lack of opportunity. First made prints in 1960s with Petersburg Press; made cigarette pack print with Kelpra Press; subsequent prints with Kelpra printing on plastic, vacuum formed into shapes relating to paintings of period. Made lithographs in Italy for Richard Feigan gallery; problems with machine cutting. [conversation about fly in studio which is troubling RS] Later prints editioned with Petersburg, interwoven papers cut by hand and framed; mentions Paul Cornwall-Jones. RS made prints with Flowers before was officially showing with gallery; monoprints made in Penzance studio; enjoyment of monoprinting. [16:15] Details paintings for RS’s 2011 Flowers exhibition; exhibition at Flowers New York, 2010 in new space, West 20th Street, Chelsea; rare occasion of RS framing paintings, mentions his assistant, Martin Potts. [24:13] Comments on weight in relation to RS’s three dimensional paintings; last 3-D paintings made 1972, showed at Moma, Oxford, then stored for thirty years before show at Flowers in Shorditch approx. two and a half years ago, Butterfly paintings associated prints made at White Ink, introduced by GH; Butterfly paintings. [mic adjusted] [29:54] Dust and Butterfly paintings; dust and kite paintings. [31:08] Paintings for 2011 Flowers exhibition; colours; relationship to folk art; titles; scale. Has used acrylic paint in last four-five years, oil prior to this, reason for change. Bernard Jacobson at times RS’s dealer, opened NYC gallery, show including RS painting triggered RS trying oils again, reasons why didn’t continue. Studio trolleys for paint. A few paintings in forthcoming Flowers show have oil as well as acrylic. Letter from Tate concerning stretcher for Panatela; mentions paint suppliers he may have used at time of painting Panatela; RS not greatly concerned re matching of paint for conservation. RS now buys Golden acrylics. Application of acrylic; yoghurt tubs used for mixing; anecdote re Turner’s palette at Royal Academy. [44:28] RS’s use of colour, teal; puts in telephone orders for colours; use of colours associated with cosmetics. RS’s interest in fashion less now. RS’s adaption of teal, of magenta. RS paints on wall, closeness to the canvas, brushes used. Describes painting a stripe; effect of time in terms of perception when working on a painting; has three painting walls and hanging wall above couch, tries to move the paintings around to ‘mature’. Erratic concentration in previous year. Painting method, agility as ages. [53:30] Use of long, thin piece of wood to paint against; idea of ‘finish’; use of masking tape. Painting stripe. In recent years has painted on linen with gesso on reverse side, refers to Francis Bacon; comments on linen; SOHO Art Supplies. Use of plastic bristle brushes. [1:03:05] Preliminary sketches, more elaborate drawings, relationship to paintings; charcoal, might also use paint on drawings, pastels. Further comments painting stripes, coverage of canvas; painting circles; starting point for series of stripes. [1:08:28] Mood in previous twelve months; 2010 Flowers show in New York, two paintings sold to Duke of Devonshire; discovery that RS has annuity from Scottish Widows. Opening RS’s February 2010 Flowers show. Dinner in Flowers gallery, Kingsland Road, London at time of Butterfly paintings show; guests [1:18:00] Plans for RS’s eightieth birthday, 27 October 2011, in London; family meal in Boundary, TC restaurant with RS painting; gallery party, mentions Nick Serota [Nicholas Serota]; mentions Julia Hodgkin, Nathan Silver, Roxy Beaujolais. Update RS’s relationship with BS; BS a former girlfriend of TC, RS’s attempt to have BS invited to TC’s recent eightieth birthday celebrations, mentions Vicki Conran, TC’s current wife; mentions Caroline Conran, Allen Jones among guests at TC’s birthday dinner. Details TC birthday. BS and TC; BS in Europe in 1950s. BS’s parents and step-parents; BS’ brothers and half-brothers. TC. [1:35:33] BS a former partner of Richard Hamilton, whom RS knew from 1950s; reiteration burning cube containing Terry’s ashes; Hamilton and BS. RS met BS in London; development of their relationship in New York, 1963, marriage 1964. Further comments on Richard Hamilton; This is Tomorrow 1956 exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery; William Turnbull; Eduardo Paolozzi; catalogue for This is Tomorrow; ICA as meeting place with artists in the exhibition. Mentions Roland Penrose, Julie Lawson, Michael Chow, ICA. Richard Hamilton’s later work. Mentions Hamilton, Howard Hodgkin, National Gallery exhibition where artists were asked to respond to work in the Gallery. [1:50:10] RS and collage; Peter Blake collage RS owns with inscription ‘To Dick Smith who told me what collage was’; sharing Turnham Green flat with Blake. [1:53:00] Impact of Abstract Expressionism on RS; his paintings at the time, eg Everly; Bryan Robertson’s purchase of RS painting, given to Bristol collection, RS’s first painting in public collection. [1:55:00] Rita Donagh. Hamilton’s image of Mick Jagger and Robert Fraser’s arrest. RS seeing Robby the Robot film recently. Current relationships BS and RS, sons and grandchildren; BS and Edward coming to London for RS’s 80th birthday. John Hoyland’s memorial to be held on day of RS’s birthday; memories of Hoyland; RS shared flat in South Kensington with students from Sheffield; RS helped Hoyland carry is paintings to RCA for interview, subsequent friendship; mentions Hoyland’s impersonation of Patrick Caulfield; Hoyland and RS’s heart operations. Brian Fielding, fellow painting student at RCA. [2:05:00] RS’s current trip in London planned to include TC’s birthday; thinks RS and TC celebrated their fortieth birthdays together; RS wanted to complete NLS recording, is also going to Paris; will go to London party for FS exhibition. Met FS 1959; Sixteen Americans, exhibition at MoMA, included FS black stripe paintings; friendship; when RS returned to England 1961 saw FS and Barbara Rose in London; Rose wrote RS catalogue for his Tate show 1975; seeing John Chamberlain work hanging in FS/Rose house, influence on RS making three dimensional work. RS refers to his last loft in NYC, on West Broadway, next to building where FS painted copper striped paintings (not witnessed by RS). Recent meal with FS NYC. RS’s 1978 kite paintings commission for Atlanta airport; used FS’s house and studio in Sagaponack, Long Island, next to print workshop set up by Ken Tyler; FS’s sixty foot long black striped canvas, drawn out but not painted. RS’s assistant, Martin Potts, came to America to assist with Atlanta kite project, married an American. RS remembers selling painting by another artist to Alan Power at time of using Sagaponack studio. FS; building on Jones Street owned by FS; comment from Edward Avedisian re Jones Street building; mentions RS’s son named after Avedisian, FS bought painting by RS [YRS, 1963] approx. 1963, still hangs in Jones Street; other artists whose work FS bought. Description RS’s painting owned by FS, painted in London, purchased from Kasmin. Further details FS; Harriet Stella. [2:25:07] Weight of FS’s metal work at MoMA; hanging solution. RS’s single metal work; Richard Feilgen. RS’s three dimensional works built in sections. 1968 bought house in Wiltshire; architectural carpentry firm in Bath made structures over which RS could stretch canvas; mentions Riverfall, owned by Tate; use of compressor; storage; further comments making the pieces; Butterfly paintings; Nathan Silver. Time lag between conception and making the three dimensional works due to construction having to be made; sound of staple gun; cost of structure. Sales of Riverfall, Amazone. Buyer for Butterfly painting unable to get a museum to take the work. [2:41:15] Effect of age re working on paintings. Cost of making the paintings relative to overall finances. [2:45:49] Barbara Rose essay for RS Tate show catalogue; mentions Norbert Lynton, Marco Livingstone. For forthcoming show RS has asked Brooks Adams to write, will visit Adams in Paris. [2:49:35] Mention of joint 40th birthday celebration with TC; staying in TC’s house when RS had commission for Boundary restaurant, approx. three years ago; Conran shops.

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