Smith, Richard (10 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 10: [2:49:40] Annual mushroom festival during ten years RS had house in Telluride, Colorado. [1:30] Barry Flanagan’s visit to RS’s Wiltshire studio; Flanagan chess set; Flanagan fabric piece on poles owned by RS, left in storage with GH. Flanagan’s purchase of work by RS, image of this work [After Six, 1960] on cover of catalogue for RS’s Knoedler Gallery 1990 show, Cork Street, London [Richard Smith: Paintings 1960-1963]; painting’s relationship Coca-Cola sign in Times Square with spinning disc, painting now in Museum in Japan. [Photocopy of Knoedler 1990 exhibition in RS’s paper file with NLS] Flanagan. [8:10] Hang of forthcoming RS exhibition at Flowers. RS working on wall rather than using easel. Recently driving past studios on Cromwell Road, London, memory of visiting artist’s widow re easel. RS has worked on the floor but not much, makes drawings on table, recently has painted on table. RS’ use of term ‘finished drawings’; drawings made over last year compared to drawings for last Flowers NYC exhibition; relationship drawings to paintings. [14:20] RS’ feelings about current visit to England. Degree to which RS feels British; degree to which he is American; degree to which RS’ children are British. [20:05] RS’ catalogue text, 1959 for John Plumb. Recent meeting in NYC with gallery owner representing GH estate; RS wrote catalogue essay for GH, 1959. Plumb. RS’ writing while at RCA and on return from first time in America; RCA’s Ark magazine; mentions David Hockney, Derek Boshier; Peter Phillips. Allen Jones, his work. [26:58] RS came to London for photograph at Tate Modern of artists who had represented Britain at the Venice Biennale; lunch at Tate Modern; refers to Gilbert & George and other artists present at the lunch; RS proud of having been in Biennale; mentions Nicholas Pope. [33:08] RS unlikely now to use any kind of brand image in his work. Degree to which paintings in forthcoming exhibition relate to any external subject matter; titles relating to board games; small paintings containing large Roman numerals; painting, Twin Roads; point at which RS knows titles for his paintings. Mentions playing badminton when lived in Wiltshire. Roman numeral paintings, American Super Bowl. Unlikely to come to London for 2012 Olympic Games. [40:08] RS to USA 1959-61, on return to Britain applied to emigrate to America, supported by Richard Bellamy; returned to America late 1963, sublet studio on Bowery, married 1964; moved to 81st Street apartment in building where Henry Geldzahler lived, studio formerly used by Richard Tuttle; won prize at San Paolo Biennale, returned to England, bought house in Wiltshire, Hodgkins, Tilsons, John Hoyland, Dennys nearby; children born in England; RS had touring show in America, beginning at MIT and commission for kite painting in bank building in New Jersey, returned to America, rented apartment on Lafayette Street; took three floors of building on Warren Street, NYC; left Warren Street, 1986, BS attending Harvard, RS moved to West Broadway and Broome Street and bought house in Colorado, Feigan RS’s dealer at this time; period of making money re commissions to go in commercial buildings, comments on kites. Return to working in two dimensions. TC commissioned kite paintings for Bluebird restaurant, London. [52:00] Reason for returning to England when bought Wiltshire house [1968]. Studio in Wiltshire house. Commissions in America weren’t the main reason for returning to live in America. Mentions Michael Chow restaurant commissions; disc paintings. Mark Lancaster lived in RS’s Bath Street apartment after RS returned to America; visit of [Michelangelo] Antonioni to RS’s Bath Street apartment. Expected to return to NYC for a year, retained Wiltshire house at first; regards NYC as magical town. [1:00:04] Corsham Academy of Art near to RS’s Wiltshire home, Michael Craig-Martin and his wife taught there; Thanksgiving celebration together; birth of son, Harry. Neon sculpture by Peter [Vaughan]. Carpet RS bought in Istanbul when visited with Hodgkins. When returned to America expected to live in Wiltshire again; reasons why stayed in America; mentions cocaine. BS returned to England to sell contents of Wiltshire house. [1:11:14] David Hockney. RS mentions friendship with Maurice Payne, who prints for Hockney. [1:14:00] Friendship with Edward Avedisian, Bob Indiana [Robert Indiana]; Ellsworth Kelly; mentions other artists around area where RS had studio 1959. Details Avedisian, his paintings; RS’s painting for recent NYC exhibition named Avedisian. [1:22:25] RS and sexuality. Avedisian. Bill Erlich (sp?), a collector of RS work. RS’s Bath Street party held for Avedisian at time of latter’s London Kasmin show, c 1965. Leaving party for RS at ICA before leaving for Harkness Fellowship. [1:29:20] Michael Goldberg, his work. Rothko exhibition at Tate Modern [2008-9] compared to impact of Rothko painting in MoMA touring show at Tate in 1950s; refers to 2010-2011 Abstract Expressionist show at MoMA. Michael Goldberg, recent encounter with his widow. Exhibitions at New Museum, Bowery, NYC. [1:36:11] Jules Olitski, his work. Robert Indiana and RS, Indiana’s work and studios [RS mentions sudden pain in hand]. Circle of artists in NYC, 1959, 1960. Kenneth Noland, target and chevron paintings. RS and Harold Cohen in NYC. Dorothy Miller’s Sixteen Artists exhibition; visit to painter, [Alfonso] Ossorio when in East Hampton, glimpse of Lee Krasner. [1:48:20] Lord & Taylor, department stores, NYC. Food during Harkness Fellowship years. [1:52:00] Further details RS’ road trip during Harkness Fellowship; Watts Towers [built by Simon Rodia]. RS seeing rodeo. Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, Irving Blum. Harkness representatives in different parts of USA. RS enamoured with America. Visiting Bruce Conner, Nathen Oliviera. Ed Ruscha’s work. RS finds strip cartoon art hard to follow. [2:00:00] Frank Bowling. RS’s set for The Recruiting Officer, RCA; Chippy Irvine, Keith Irvine. [2:04:28] RS’s writing about Jackson Pollock exhibition, Whitechapel Gallery [1958]; Lawrence Alloway; Pollock work in recent MoMA [Museum of Modern Art] Abstract Expressionist exhibition; floor in Pollock’s Long Island studio. Long Island light. RS not trying to make drip paintings. Hasn’t painted on unstretched canvas. [2:10:48] Work seen in National Gallery, London; visits to Tate as RCA student; commercial galleries visited as student; recent Redfern gallery exhibition of William Gear. William Scott. [2:15:20] RS’s work, Billboard, painted in America, 1961. Mentions his work not being sent to 1960 Situation in London. [2:18:06] Encounters with Andy Warhol, his work. [2:22:16] RS’s painting, MM; going to see Marilyn Monroe arrive at film premier. [2:24:15] Return to England after Harkness Fellowship; Peter Blake, mentions flat-mate, Tony. Relationship with parents; DS came to RS’s wedding in America; RS’ parents and BS; RS’ parents as grandparents. [2:29:30] Carel Weight putting RS forward for Harkness Fellowship, RS’s RCA painting of Manhattan from air derived from photograph, painting on Masonite. [2:32:40] RS included in second Situation show, Marlborough gallery; mention Marc Vaux, Tess Jaray. Friendship, Gillian Ayres, her work. [2:38:17] RS and Green Gallery; Richard Bellamy sponsored RS’ return to America. RS’ need for English gallery on return from Harkness Fellowship. [John] Kasmin. RS’ Bath Street studio exhibition; Robert Freeman’s photograph of RS used for poster; serving jellied eels. Met Kasmin, 1961; Kasmin Gallery opened 1963. Marlborough gallery at time of Situation. Cork Street gallery spaces. [2:45:24] Mention RS in Paris Biennale, 1961; British Council. RS painting bought by member of Arts Council staff, paid in installments.

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