PRINT February 1966



Your article “Art Treasures From Japan” (Artforum, December 1965, Page 37) is irrelevant and uninformative.

It is, in my opinion, inaccurate in its evaluations. But even if it were accurate, it is simply a work of scholastic snobbery in which Dr. von Meier speaks from a vague lofty Doctoral perch without being informative.

My background is simply A.B. degree from Princeton, not a Doctorate in Art History, and I speak as a collector of Japanese art, rather than as an expert. But my evaluation of the exhibit was quite contrary to Dr. von Meier’s. Yet his criticisms are so general it is not possible to take issue with him. When he is specific I am amazed at his attitude—for example, his complaint about the number of uniformed guards. With hundreds of people crowding past irreplaceable art objects, I say it is irresponsible to suggest there should not be as many guards as the museum can practically supply. Last week I saw children actually hanging from an exhibit of kinetic sculpture in New York City due to a lack of guards. Heaven protect the objects of art history if historian von Meier is heeded.

And what are the “large scale bronzes” that are lacking? The great Buddha from Kamakura? Name two!

Criticism of this sort may put the visitor to the exhibition on guard, but it certainly does not tell him how to look, what to appreciate, what to look for or who the casually dropped great names are in relation to Japanese Art and the exhibit specifically.

Let Dr. von Meier confine his writings to scholarly journals where he can debate in a rarefied atmosphere with other Doctors of Art History. Let’s have Artforum be enlightening to its readers.

John G. Powers
New York, N.Y.

I enjoy the reviews of Margery Mann on photography. But something she said in her review of “The Photographer and the American Landscape” exhibit (December, 1965) bothered. It seemed to me she expressed one of her value judgements on the basis of a false sort of comparison (as with expecting apples to be oranges).

In comparison to Sinsabaugh, of course “O’Sullivan and Jackson described the vastness of the landscape in their prints which emphasized instead of breadth, the depth of the distance between the viewer and the horizon.” There are essential characteristics of much of the western landscape. Almost any photographer would have to react to it, although naturally with varying success.

However Sinsabaugh’s subject is not the West. It is East Central Illinois and nearby areas similar to it. It just does not have the vastness or the feeling of depth that the West has. The rolls in the land are simply much smaller and closer together. It does have quite a feeling of breadth as one travels through it. Sinsabaugh captures that feeling as does no one else that I have seen. It would almost seen that Miss Mann is not really acquainted with the nature of this landscape, expecting something out of it that it does not have. Maybe she simply dislikes it. I have known more than one who did, usually westerners. But she must develop better and more solid grounds to denigrate Sinsabaugh than a failure to portray great depth in photographs of a landscape that does not have great depth as a part of its essential character if she is to maintain a high level of critical acumen.

Neil E. Matthew
Indianapolis, Ind.

Margery Mann’s notions about Kronengold, etc., were correct and to the point. Good—it will help them greatly.

Jack Welpott
Art Department
San Francisco State College

I was fortunate to see the exhibition of Edward Ruscha which your Mr. Wilson reviewed (December, 1965.) I do not understand his confusion. From a Mexican’s point of view, the pictures look like a little boy who has just wet his pants. Like the little boy, the paintings have that look of “I couldn’t help it.”

You can see a fish, which is dead, caught up in the troubles of dark brown or green, and birds who want to do the things grown-ups do. The subject is what we know is possible but don’t expect to see. Seeing a new and well-kept Aston-Martin parked in the street, looking its proud self, we might think of its beauty. If we were to see a smashed fender on the other side . . . Well, it’s still a pretty car. Or like a bird flying into a room which it can’t leave.

In the case of the paintings, the car, the bird, on the first glance you think: “Oh, No!” But, I’m sorry, “Yes!”

Jose Bueno
Los Angeles

The articles by Barbara Rose in the last issues of your magazine, and especially that in the November, 1965 issue, do honor both to art criticism and to Artforum. Please convey to her the compliments of an isolated artist who has only the clear-minded few to look to . . .

—Paulo Patelli
Venice, Italy

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