Ted Castle


    THE ISSUE OF THE CONNECTION between homeland (not nation) and art has to a large extent been lost at the present time. Ever since the magnetization of Paris in the late 19th century made the capital of France the capital of modern art, and of its commercialization, it hasn’t mattered where you come from or where you’re going as long as you remain in the capital. Today, artists from all over the world seek to be homogenized in New York and to have the city’s commercial systems distribute their work everywhere else. Ethnicity has become a much degraded concept. Originally, ethnic meant “the others,”

  • Alice Neel

    In this week’s newsletter, the editors feature a conversation between painter Alice Neel and novelist Ted Castle from the October 1983 issue of Artforum. “Staged Mothers,” Ara Osterweil’s essay on the artist, appears in the current issue to mark the occasion of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition “Alice Neel: People Come First,” on view through August 1.

    A year before her death in 1984, Alice Neel sat with novelist Ted Castle for a long, rollicking conversation. By that time, her cataracts had hampered her ability to paint, but they had done nothing to dampen her mind or spirit. Neel’s


    The only thing that is different from one time to another is what is seen and what is seen depends upon how everybody is doing everything.
    —Gertrude Stein1

    THINGS ARE SIMPLER THAN they seem. Over the years we have learned to qualify our every mood and statement in the awareness that there is nothing we can do or feel that cannot be demeaned by some other notion or emotion. We seek why we feel the way we seem to feel in the hope that personal history will encourage us. We fear we may have been misunderstood when we said such-and-such to so-and-so; but our experiences teach that everyone, ourselves


    AMERICANS, USUALLY AND GENERALLY, are not very expressive. There is the ubiquitous smile called “cheese” made up for photographic purposes, but most of us are rather dour. There are few generalities that suit this amalgam of human races; Americans are enthusiastic about money, and that’s about it. There are of course regional differences (people smile more in Southern California and laugh more in New York City), but our social customs vary so much from one ghetto to another, and all these communities are so exclusive, that one can hardly write an article of any meaning at all to more than one

  • Charles Ludlam: The Mating of Theater and Art

    IF WHAT WE KNOW as “art” has excluded theater from its purview, the reasons are not far to seek. I think the theater, even supposedly serious theater, like supposedly serious literature, has excluded itself from art. To become more tedious, what, then, do we mean by “art”? Well, to put a word upon it, to be an artist is to do something that you do not know whether you can do at all, and if you turn out to be able to do it, then you do not know if you will be allowed to get away with it. Most theater today, however uplifting or entertaining, is not art because it is craft; it is a display of an

  • Kes Zapkus' Modern Warfare

    The proteiform graph itself is a polyhedron of scripture. There was a time when naif alphabetters would have written it down the tracing of a purely deliquescent recidivist, possibly ambidextrous, snubnosed probably and presenting a strangely profound rainbowl in his (or her) occiput. To the hardily curiosing entomophilust then it has shown a very sexmosaic of nymphosis in which the eternal chimerahunter Oriolopos, now frond of sugars, then lief of saults, the sensory crowd in his belly coupled with an eye for the goods trooth bewilderblissed by their night effluvia with guns like drums and


    ’Tis time to observe Occurrences, and let nothing remarkable escape us; The Supinity of elder dayes hath left so much in silence, or time hath so martyred the Records, that the most industrious heads do finde no easie work to erect a new Britannia.
    —Thomas Browne, May 1, 1658

    THERE IS SOMETHING EXTRATERRESTRIAL about neon light. This rare gas having the Greek name for new was discovered in 1898 in London and developed into neon light by 1911 in Paris. When low-voltage current is passed through the gas, it emits light. The gas, hardly present in the atmosphere, is produced in sufficient commercial

  • Carolee Schneemann: The Woman Who Uses Her Body as Her Art

    And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
    —Saint Matthew

    And he took bread, and gave thanks and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
    —Saint Luke

  • Suzanne Harris: The Energy of Time

    Who knows at what precise phase, or from what floriate green-room, the Master of Harlequinade, himself not made, maker of sequence and permutation in all things made, called us from our co-laterals out, to dance the Funeral Games of the Great Mammalia, as, long, long, long before, these danced out the Dinosaur?1

    SUZANNE CAMPBELL HARRIS DIED IN her sleep on November 4, 1979, in Los Angeles, the same date as the Iranians captured their American hostages. Her work bridges several different categories from cast metal sculpture, to landscape art, to color analysis, to cut glass sculpture, to irregular

  • Ulrich Rückriem: The Monumental Ritual

    IN 1955, HERBERT READ GAVE A series of lectures under the auspices of the National Gallery of Art in Washington which became a book about sculpture. In thinking about the origins of sculpture, he seized upon the ancient story of Jacob in Genesis, Chapter 28. In the course of his work as a mighty progenitor, Jacob “went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place and tarried there all night, because the sun was set. And he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.” Then he had a dream in which he saw a

  • Jene Highstein: A Full Roundness

    WITH SO MUCH BUSTLE in the field of painting lately, there is a tendency to overlook the less populated field of sculpture. The situation of ten years ago, when painting was somewhat under the cloud of sculpture and conceptual art, has reversed. New sculpture, however, is being made in a multiplicity of materials and styles. There is a new generation of sculptors, owing something to the pioneers of Minimal art, but striking out on their own, unhampered by the dictates of reductio ad absurdum. Without assuming any sort of completeness, I might mention Brenda Miller, whose typewriter works achieve

  • Leon Polk Smith: The Completely Self-Referential Object

    Self-consciousness is only something definite, it only has real existence, in so far as it alienates itself from itself. By so doing it puts itself in the position of something universal, and this universality is its validity and its actuality.

    BEING 40, AS I AM this year, is a most equivocal time of life. Like July, when I am writing this piece, the age is situated in the middle of time. Like noon, it signals a division. During most of the morning most of us have been asleep and waking up. In the afternoon we shall have to prove ourselves. However, at noon we are in the habit of taking