Page 17 - Studio International - November 1965
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One  establishes  oneself  on  firmer  ground  by  being   of  countryland  that  are  within  the  London  area,  were
                                  here and getting the information first hand and getting   most  admired  because  they  made  life  more  pleasant,
                                 the feel of the place.  Also,  there hasn't been anywhere   providing  as  they  did,  more  breathing  space  and  a
                                 in Europe that I've been where I have felt that I wanted   human scale for living.
                                 to  settle  down  and  work.  And  at  the  moment,  New   Smith  I  think  one  of the  reasons  for  leaving  England
                                 York  is  providing  enough  for  me  so  that  I  don't  feel   is  the  standards  set  up  because  of  the  regard  for
                                 that  I  want  to  go  back  to  London.  So  this  has  taken   tradition,  such  as  those  shown  in  the  movie,  Nothing
                                 over  and  I  am  quite  happy  to  stay  here  as  long  as  I   But  the  Best.  They  were  absolutely  appalling,  and
                                 can make it.                                       those are the kind of statuses that still exist that reflect
                                  Glaser  When  you  say  that  New  York  is  providing   the  point  of  view  of  something  like  Country  Life
                                 enough,  do  you  mean  its  social  and  cultural  mani­  magazine.
                                 festations  in  the  broad  sense  that  Dick  meant  or  do   Glaser You seem to be still fighting the old class war.
                                 you mean specifically the kind of painting that is being   Smith Yes.  I think there is a class structure within the
                                 made by  New York artists?                         arts  too,  in  England.  Literature  is  considered  top  art,
                                 Jones  I meant it in a general sense.  I feel that my own   the  most  important,  or  the  one  taken  most  seriously.
                                 problems  are  not  that  directly  related  to  my  environ­  And  then comes theatre,  then music,  ballet and finally
                                 ment.  Rather,  one mainly carries them around in one's   painting, in that order.
                                 head and they get thrashed out in the privacy of one's   Phillips  But  painting  seems  to  have  gained  a  higher
                                 studio,  regardless  of  where  that is.  But it's  during  the   position  in  the  last  few  years.  More  attention  is  paid
                                 times when one is switched off,  or one is relaxing and   to  it  now  in  the  reviews  and  magazines.
                                 meeting people that one gets the benefit of being in a   Jones  I think one of the reasons painting rates low in
                                 centre  like  New  York  where  more  is  going  on  and   this  hierarchy is that it's more vulnerable and somehow
                                 there are more people doing things that you respect.   everyone feels  he  can  be  a  critic  before a  picture.  But
                                 Glaser  Peter, why are you  here?                  this is a general thing since  I have seen the same thing
                                  Peter  Phillips  Partly,  I  am here for  the same  reasons   happen over here. I don't know how this attitude came
                                 as  Dick  and  Allen.  But  for  a  good  many  years  I've   about,  or  at what point painting ceased  to  be  like  the
                                 wanted  to  come,  mainly  because  of  the  romantic   fine  arts.  It may have  something to do with its loss of
                                 vision of America that I shared with other young people   professional status that accompanied its fostering as a
                                 in  England.  I  can  remember,  when  I  was  very  young,   pastime  that  anyone  could  do  in  Victorian  times.
                                 my  aunt  sending  me  comic  books  of  Superman  and   Smith I think the reason people treat it lightly and make
                                 Captain  Marvel,  and  this  started  the  fantasy.  Then  I   jokes about it is that the visual arts are the most radical
                                 went  to  the  children's  matinee  performances  at  the   arts of the twentieth century and inevitably disturbing,
                                 ABC  Minors and  I saw the Bowery Boys movies which   so  that  one  of  the  ways  of  ignoring  them  or  putting
                                 added to  it,  and  there  were  other  images  of  America   them  down  is  to  ridicule  them.  I  was  also  thinking
                                 that  one  was  almost  bombarded  with,  and  they  built   that in  England,  another  reason  for  this  attitude  might
                                 up a romantic vision of America which  I  knew was not   be that  all the  painters seem  to  be  under forty.  Every­
                                 the real thing.  So  I wanted to  go over and see  what  it   body seems to be very young and somehow when one
                                 was really like.                                   thinks about British painting, unless you have become
                                   From the cultural point of view I didn't really become   very  historically  minded,  you  don't  think  about  the
                                 aware of American painting until some time later when   generation before mine.
                                 I  saw  the second  big  show of  Abstract-Expressionists   Glaser  You  are  talking  only  about  your  own  circle,
                                 in  London  in  1959,  which  knocked  me  out.  Before   but the  world  knows the  names  of  Henry  Moore,  Ben
                                 then  I  didn't  think  there  was  any  such  thing  as   Nicholson  and  Francis  Bacon  a  good  deal  more  than
                                 American  painting.  It  was  so  completely  new  and  it   it knows the name of your generation.
                                 renewed my interest to come over here and see every­  Jones That's three,  but then you start to run out.  You
                                 thing.  Then  I  got  the  opportunity  with  the  Harkness   don't  tend  to  run  out  after  three  when  you  are  going
                                 fellowship and  this  paid  my way  over  here  so  I  could   through  American  painters  of  some stature  of  the  last
                                 work.  And  my  attitude  towards  the  cultural  environ­  twenty or thirty years, or before that, of French painters.
                                 ment here is  similar to  Dick's and Allen's.      Glaser  What  is  your  feeling  about  the  British  artists
                                 Glaser  There  seems  to  be  a  general  feeling  amongst   other  than  these  three 7  There  is,  after  all,  that  whole
                                 all  of  you  that  the  aspect  of  the  United  States  that   generation  of  painters  such  as  Roger  Hilton,  Terry
                                 appealed  to  you  primarily  was  the  wildness,  the   Frost,  William  Scott,  Victor  Pasmore,  Trevor  Bell,
                                 kookiness  and  the  way-out  quality  of  its  popular   Peter  Lanyon  and  Alan  Davie.  What  about  those
                                 culture.  You  mentioned  your  attraction to  the  movies,   people?  Don't  they  have  any  relevance  to  your
                                 jazz and comic books.                              background 7
                                 Jones  I think  Dick was right when he said America is   Smith  No,  I think they have failed us, really. They have
                                 a  place of our  own time.  For example.  an old building   provided  very  little  that  one  could  accept.  Somehow
                                 here is from  1880 or  1907,  and that's pretty good.   every  generation  has  to  make  a  clean  sweep  of  the
                                 Glaser  Are  you  regretting  the  force  of  tradition  in   criteria  of the generation before and this they failed to
                                 England?                                           do.  For  my  time  Abstract-Expressionism  was  a  clean
                                 Jones Not entirely, and it is difficult  for a  Londoner or   sweep,  but  the  generation  over  forty  in  England  was
                                 any  person  from  any  environment  to  really  judge  it   still  painting  Cornish  landscapes  or  pseudo-Braques
                                 until  he  has  left  it.  I  was  interested  to  find  an  extra­  or whatever. Then they were swept up by the Abstract­
                                 ordinary  influx  of  American  painters  on  holiday  in   Expressionist revolution, though revolution may be too
                                 London  this  past  summer,  and  I  was  quite  impressed   strong  a word.  They were  now  painting  freely  painted
                                 to  hear them say  such things as  'Isn't  London  really a   paintings  and  imitating,  rather  weakly  as  it  were,  the
                                 modern  city 7'_  And those things that you  had thought   Americans.
                                 were provincial,  such  as  the  parks  and the  large  areas   Jones The only painters who survived that were those
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