TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT July 1962

LETTERS

LETTERS

Sir:
First let me congratulate you on your May issue of Artforum. I can see that you are trying to do a first rate job and that the future issues will be exciting and worthwhile. I also anticipate much open controversy and hope that the Art Galleries, too, will have space to “pick up the gauntlet.”

It goes without saying that such a magazine encourages reviews and opinions from all and everyone except from the very people who have a faith and belief (beyond the rational) in the artists they represent—the “art galleries” themselves. It would certainly be an interesting experiment to devote some portion of the magazine to the very chauvinistic expression of the art dealers—who they think are worth while and why!

—Esther Robles
Los Angeles

Sir:
We in the Art Department certainly wish you the best of success in publishing this journal in the years to come, for it is something which has very much been needed on the West Coast.

—David Gebhard
Director, Art Gallery
University of California
Santa Barbara

Sir:
Let me offer my hearty congratulations to your editorial staff on your handsome and pithy edition.

—F. M. Hinkhouse, Director
Phoenix Art Museum

Sir:
The magazine looks great!

—Mrs. Betty Bowen
Seattle

Sir:
Congratulations and best wishes for success.

—Esther Bear
Santa Barbara

Sir:
With best of wishes.

—Mark Tobey
Seattle

Sir:
On reading Dr. Lester Longman’s diatribe against modern art, ironically entitled “Conformity in the Arts,” it seems to me that he is one of several self-appointed helmsmen who wish to steer the boat while we artists merely labor at the oars like so many slaves.

The learned Dr. Longman dismisses American art since the war as a “fad” or “ism,” when in fact the new American painting as exemplified by Pollock, De Kooning, Kline, Still and others (none of whom Dr. Longman chooses to mention) has for the first time in our history become a force in world culture of the utmost importance. While ignoring the so-called heroic period of American abstract art, Dr. Longman makes use of bizarre reactions to it—mostly by European artists—to typify his prejudice.

The point that Dr. Longman misses altogether is that the art called by critics “Abstract Expressionism” has vanquished the minds of thousands of younger artists very much like the influence wielded by Monet or Cézanne in their day. Yet the works of the “Abstract Expressionists” do not conform even to each other. What could be farther from De Kooning than Rothko?

Attempts by some artists to free themselves of this tyranny—Happenings, Junk Art, Assemblage and Neo-Dada, which Dr. Longman erroneously lumps together with “Abstract Expressionism,” are at their best a new vision of the world, at their worst merely a form of criticism.

I agree with Dr. Longman that shocking objects and examples of shocking behavior are being brought to the public attention by museums and the press. This I can only regard as the artist functioning in his capacity as critic. Don’t make the mistake of looking upon these manifestations as “immoral” or undesirable. To do away with art as criticism is the first step toward a totalitarian conformity alien to our free society.

I have great confidence in the rebellious spirit of younger artists and in their capacity to create a new vision which will fulfill in the deepest sense the spirit of Malraux’s words quoted by Dr. Longman—“A man becomes truly a man only when in quest of what is most exalted in him . . . etc.” Don’t forget that art has many other attributes, among which are the comical, the satirical, the Rabelaisian, the sensual and the lyrical, as well as the exalted and other worldly.

We can’t expect that all of the 50,000 or so artists in this country are doing work that will “go down through the ages” but we can be sure that some are.

If there’s anything deplorable in the artistic situation today it’s the uninformed, unsympathetic, prejudiced, critic of modern art. He knows how to write. He knows art history and esthetics. But it is doubtful that he has been deeply moved by any work since Courbet.

—Wilfrid Zogbaum
San Francisco