Page 18 - Studio International - November 1965
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who had developed their individual styles before, such   for  radical  painting  is  that  it  be  recognized  as  radical
                               as the few better known ones you mentioned, and they   and  not  as  something  else,  and  that  the  public  is
                               had retreated into the English countryside. An article that   incapable of recognizing it.
                               Lawrence Alloway wrote in Show magazine some time   Glaser This is not only peculiar to Britain. The American
                               ago,  referred  to  this  very  thing.  He  said  that  once  an   public  took some time before they began to recognize
                               English painter had gained acceptance in the Establish­  what  Abstract-Expressionism  was  about.
                               ment, he moves out of town and becomes 'ungetatable',   Smith  True,  but  now  there  is  an  incredibly  educated
                               and it certainly seems that this is the way things work.   public in  America that is willing to accept breaks with
                               Take the position of Sutherland for instance.  When his   tradition.  Also,  in  Britain  there  is  comparatively  little
                               name  was  made  he  could  retreat  into  the  English   response from  the professional art  viewers,  the  critics.
                               countryside  and  still  go  on  showing  at  the  best  and   This may be because there are no critics of  one's own
                               biggest galleries without his position being threatened.   generation  whom  one  has grown up  with.  In  America
                               On the contrary, in New York you have the feeling that   there  was  a  generation  of  critics  that  came  up  with
                               a  person's  reputation  is  based  generally  on  his  latest   Abstract-Expressionism  and  that  was  their  discovery
                               work  and  the work  he  shows  in  his exhibitions  rather   and  their  subject.  Now  there  is  another  generation  of
                               than  on  some  breakthrough  he  made  years  ago  as  a   critics  that  have come up  with pop  art  and  the  other
                               war artist or something.                           new  styles,  and they  know  the  artists  and  this  is  their
                               Glaser  Again  you  seem  to  prefer  the  atmosphere  of   thing  and  this  is  what  they  are  supporting  and  what
                               New York for its continuing dialectic. Here, you suggest,   they  write  about  knowledgeably.  And  this  hasn't
                               there is always a conflict and a testing of points of view,   happened in  London.
                               and  there  is  a  stimulation  and  excitement  that  comes   Jones  But these critics you speak of came along with
                               from  the  contrasts  between  personalities  and  ideas.   the  surge  and  development  of  painting  in  New  York
                               Smith  Yes,  I  feel  that  people  look  at  paintings  here   while  there  hasn't  been  anything  comparable  or
                               and  I  think  very few  people  really look at  paintings  in   significant  enough  in  English  painting  yet,  to  drag  in
                               London.                                            or create the critics.  I think something is happening now
                               Phillips  Both  the  public  and  the  artist  over  here  take   but  perhaps  only  within  the  space  of  three  years.
                               art very much more seriously than they do in England.   Smith  I  think  things  have  been  going  on  in  England
                               It's  rather  a  gentlemanly  sort  of  thing  and  very  polite   for at least five or six years.
                               in England.                                        Phillips  There  were  beginnings  farther  back  in  the
                               Jones  What  is  really  bothersome  about  the  London   mid  1950's  with  some  of  Lawrence  Alloway's  pro­
                               scene is that of  the five or  six painters of  the  younger   grammes at the  Institute of Contemporary Arts.
                               generation  who  may  be  said  to  have  'made  it',  one   Jones  Yes,  but  the  ICA,  enlivened  in  good  part  by
                               feels  the  lack  of  aesthetic  criteria  in  the  judgement  of   Alloway and  Richard Hamilton. was just a little beacon
                               them.  You may get your acclaim partially because you   in  the  blackness  and  wasn't  known  outside  a  very
                               are  one  of  a  new  generation  of  British  painters,  and   small  community.  It  wasn't  enough  to  generate  the
                               that  is  considered  important  because  you  are  part  of   kind of response that would create its own critical self­
                               the  impact  that  is  making  British  art  felt  around  the   awareness and out of that,  the critics.
                               world.  It's as if you are appreciated as one of the local   Smith  The  ICA  was  very  strange  because  it  was
                               boys who made good.  A very provincial notion.  Funny   attempting  to  make  a  new,  tiny  society  of  architects,
                               reasons  like  these  are  why  your  show  is  popular  or   writers,  painters and sculptors who had many ideas in
                               liked  rather than for  anything  you  are  concerned  with   common. And they articulated these ideas in their dis­
                               or  have  intended.  That's  why  I  had  to  leave,  for  the   cussions  and  in  their  exhibition,  'This  is  Tomorrow',
                               satisfaction  of  finding  out  how  I  would  be  received   where  some  of  the  most  daring  and  unconventional
                               elsewhere,  and  more  important,  for  my  development.   work in  London,  at that time,  were shown.  There were
                               Glaser  A  few  things  you  have  mentioned  may  be   a  lot  of  ideas there but nobody on the creative or fine
                               related.  You  express disappointment  in  the generation   art side of it, with the exception of Paolozzi and Richard
                               of  British painters before you, those over forty, and you   Hamilton,  had  enough  character  or  creative  strength
                               distinguish  yourselves  from  them.  And  you  have   to make any real art out of it.  Most of the painters con­
                               implied the timidity or gentlemanly quality of the British   nected  with  this  group,  such  as  John  McHale  and
                               art  scene,  which  qualities,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  are   Magda  Cordell.  are  forgotten  as  painters  now.
                               referred to frequently in articles criticizing British paint­  Jones  It's  interesting  for  me  to  consider  that  this
                               ing.  Critics  have  also  characterized  the  painting  as   activity was happening  in the mid  1950's when  I  was
                               having too much good taste and see in it an unwilling­  only  halfway through art school,  because the changes
                               ness to take risks.  Is this the basis for your criticism of   in myself during this past decade were naturally greater
                               the older generation? Is it a fair statement of the problem   than  they  would  be  for  an  older  man.  I  was  unaware
                               of  British  painting,  and  if  it  is,  how  is  the  younger   that  this  was  going  on.  but  still,  I  think  the  reason
                               generation dealing with it?                        anything has happened among the younger painters is
                               Smith  I  think  TASTE,  capitals  all  the  way  through,  is   because  the foundation  was  laid  at that time.
                               always a tremendous problem, wherever one is painting   Smith  Yes,  I  think it made  a  new  climate  of  opinion.
                               or  whenever  one  looks  at  a  painting.  The  English   a  sympathetic  attitude  towards  popular  iconography
                               gallery-going public is timid about what they can look   or  material  and  an  appreciation  of  your  paintings  as
                               at and  even  about what they  can  see.  If  some  quality   sort of non-fine art objects. I got in at the tail end of this
                               about  the  painting  is  radical,  and  tasteless  maybe­  movement,  after  the  more  heroic  days,  so  I  don't
                               radical  and  therefore  seeming  tasteless-the  thing   consider myself a part of it. Their views were influential,
                               that  will  be  admired  is  usually  some  kind  of  tasteful   but  primarily  for  their  sociological  implications.  They
                               overtone  somewhere  within  the  whole,  such  as  a   believed  you  could  enjoy  the  ordinary  things  you
                               certain kind of paint  quality or anything that their eyes   really  enjoyed.  and  you  didn't  have  to  take  up  art
                               find  familiar  or  can  relate  to.  But  the  important  thing   attitudes.  You  didn't  have  to  like  handthrown  pottery
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