TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT October 1963

LETTERS

Letters

Sirs: 
I think your reviewer of Gerd Stern’s “Swinging Superman” (July, 1963) might have been amused by the following set of directions which I found on the floor near the work, evidently directed to the gallery caretaker:

DIRECTIONS FOR SWINGING SUPERMAN

Superman
wastes his batteries
when hanging at low point of curve
Must either be swinging
or pushed and hung
on high point of curve
near LIKE
Spare batteries
inside box
behind LIKE
Switch under facade
on HIGH side
turns flashing lights on
they can be held on or off
by pulling switch chain
Motor behind HIGH flashes lights
sometimes reverses
intentional sequence: WHO R U HIGH LIKE BIRD
to reverse direction
pull switch until it happens.
—Gerd Stern

—John Talbot
Walnut Creek

 

Sirs:
As a Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Iowa, financed by a grant from the Archives of American Art, I am presently compiling a complete catalogue raisonné of the work of John Marin (1870–1953). Any information on the location of Marin work would be gratefully received and should be sent to me at the Art Department, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

—Sheldon Reich
Iowa City, Iowa

 

Sirs:
It seems to me that Marjory Mann’s reviews of the photography shows at the University Art Gallery and at Bolles were responsible, thoughtful and intelligent. Her understanding of photography is impressive.

—Phil Palmer

 

Sirs:
As a member of the 1963 California State Fair Craft Jury, I wish to make known that censorship was imposed on this exhibition by its directors. Specifically, a prize winning ceramic and leather pot by San Francisco potter Charles McKee, (a previous State Fair winner) was removed from the exhibition, without the consent of the jury, because it apparently upset one of the directors of the art show. The piece in question, however, is listed in the exhibition catalog as a $100 purchase award but it is questionable if it will become part of the State Fair’s permanent collection of art.

In addition to the McKee pot, this writer, as a member of the jury, had the privilege of exhibiting an example of his work (The same piece that was reproduced on p. 26 of Artforum v. 11, No. 2) which was also removed from the exhibition because of its assumed offensive nature.

If the directors of the fair are going to practice censorship, then it should be stated so in the catalog and the statement, “the decision of the jury is final,” should be deleted from the premium book.

In addition, if a level of safe art and dull mediocrity is the pursuit of the art directors of this exhibition than perhaps the show itself and its $10,000 worth of prizes should be reviewed by some committee of the government. If the presentation of the most significant art by California artists is not the pursuit of the directors, then I suggest the available space might be better used as a honky-tonk corral.

—Robert Arneson
Member, California State Fair
Craft Jury, 1963

 

Sirs:
May I speak with pique because the work of Bernice Kussoy rates not a mention in your “California Sculpture Today” issue?

The moving tribute to the late MacKinley Helm by Harriette van Breton in the first number of your second volume might be studied by your critical corps, especially as to his “abundance of spirit and infectious enthusiasm ample enough to bring fulfilling joy . . . to all those artists and art lovers . . . with whom he came in contact.” Dr. Helm bought Kussoy before her big debut show in San Francisco and his last purchase of anything American was a fine Kussoy piece from her second one-man at the Ankrum.

You might share with John Coplans the suggestion that a lack of broadranging contact and the limits of acquaintance imposed upon us all might stay the hand flying over the typing keys from punching out poorly ascertained statements such as (when commenting on the neglect of John Roeder) “. . . but for the interest of Mr. Rudy Turk . . . (Roeder) would be totally unknown.” Mr. Coplans fails, from his remove, to recognize the high and loving enthusiasms of Henry Schaeffer Simmern and the collector Vincent Porcaro for Roeder as an artist and as a person. Had he been more roving or researched, he would have known that in a one-man exhibition at Stanford Research Institute in January of 1960, 25 of his paintings were visited by upwards of 6,000 persons.

With assurances of my admiring devotion to Artforum . . .

—William C. Estler
Palo Alto, California

 

Sirs:
To me, there is no excuse for the display, gallery-wise or in print, for such a horror as Kienholz’s “The Illegal Operation.” It simply does not have a right to be shown. To have seen friends undergo the physical and psychic agony makes such “art” truly non-art and completely revolting.

—Harry Dixon
Santa Rosa, California

 

Sirs:
My congratulations on your August 1963 issue, dedicated to “California Sculpture Today.” You have presented far more pertinent visual material than any other publication that I have seen since the demise (temporary, at least) of IT IS. Artforum is worthy of its title.

—Philip C. Homes
Iowa City, Iowa

 

Sirs:
This is a girl . . .

you will notice that the eyes and mouth part go at the top.

The toe part goes down at the bottom.

Sky goes above land and houses have roofs at the top.

I mention these type things because my painting which was published upside down in the August issue contained these things.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but I haven’t been swamped with orders for paintings, or offers for one man shows recently, and I am thinking maybe it’s because the painting was upside clown, although my cousin in law said he liked that won better than the two that were right side up.

My English teacher was Ken Lash, of the San Francisco Art Institute. “A GOOD place to go.”

—Lori Lawyer
San Francisco

 

Sirs:
John Coplans has made a serious misstatement of tact in Artforum (August 1963, p. 6) which must be corrected. He charges that:

“Prof. Herschel Chipp, recently appointed as the American juror for the Paris Biennale for the specific purpose of obtaining a Western sculpture representation, perfectly reflects this view by completely ignoring the majority of the very best younger artists on the coast, restricting representation almost totally to the faculty and students at Berkeley.”

This statement of purpose is false. In that same issue my statement describing the exhibition appears (p. 7). It begins:

“The United States Information Service has selected the sculpture workshop at the University of California, Berkeley, to provide one of the exhibitions at the Paris Biennale of 1963.”

And further:

“Since the theme of the show is sculpture having its origins within the University, the artists represented are those who have worked there either as students or instructors.”

The official catalogue of the Paris Biennale includes this statement:

“. . . cette exposition offre au judgement d’une audience internationale une idée originale: celle d’une sculpture ayant sa source dans un milieu académique.”

Mr. Coplans could not have known what he was talking about when he wrote his article. If before condemning the selection, he had wished to inform himself of its basis, he would have found the above information readily available.

Mr. Coplans proposed for himself that he “seriously discuss” the University. Quite rightly. But who is going to do the same for Mr. Coplans? Who is going to examine his statements in the light of his personal prejudices? Why should not the contributors to Artforum be evaluated as strenuously as they evaluate the artists? The editors have given an exceptionally free hand to their writers, but this freedom must be carefully guarded if it is not to become an arena for the expression of personal whim. So far the contributions of writers representing many differing views (including Mr. Coplans) have given Artforum considerable success. Mr. Coplans enjoys this freedom, but he betrays it when he sees in it only personal liberties and forgets that it imposes responsibilities toward the issues and artists he is privileged to discuss.

—Herschel B. Chipp