PRINT February 1968



Concerning Max Kozloff’s article on color in the December Artfoum:

If any critic wants to make “a responsible account of color” he must learn about it first, just as a doctor must learn about medicine. Color has qualities which have been organized intelligently within a descriptive system. There are a number of books which relate this system and which will provide the tools for accurate color description.

It is a shame to refer to a color an artist uses as “lemon” unless the painting is of lemons. If it is not of lemons, then the color is pale greenish yellow. Lemon is the color of lemons and not of paint. If critics start using the affective vocabulary suggested by Mr. Kozloff they will be referring to and invoking things that most likely have nothing to do with the paintings concerned. This sort of association makes everyone cozy but it obscures art.

—Darby Bannard
Princeton, N.J.

Mr. Bannard advises the critic to learn about color from books, and to study it as if he were a doctor. I find it odd that an artist, of all people, counsels me to take a medical view of art. And I think even more bizarre his recommendation that the critic bone up on literature in order to describe the colors in a picture. Studiousness of this kind is rather irrelevant to the esthetic experience, and to the task of rendering it in language. My reasons for saying so were explained in the article.

“Lemon is the color of lemons and not of paint.” Paint manufacturers who label one of their products lemon yellow will dispute this. I consider their judgment in the matter very natural. If the human mind could not conceive of, and recall colors apart from certain objects, it would never have advanced beyond a very primitive state. Mr. Bannard appears to be saying that a picture containing lemon yellow must compulsively confine it to only one image: lemon, lemon . . . lemon!

—Max Kozloff
New York City

Your editorial characterization of my writing “some remarks . . .” and “some other comments . . .” as “excerpts” or “more pages from a spleenish journal” has not improved by repetition. The metaphor is much too obvious as applied to the content of either article and much too simplified if applied to the complete contents of my “record.” Otherwise, I have not noted human organs developing within the book, but, should they appear, I shall pierce its heart with the appropriate wooden stake, cremate it before dawn, and ship the boxed ashes for interment in Transylvania.

Yours In Christ,

—Professor Von Helsing
(Dan Flavin)

More Pages from a Journal Some of Which is Spleenish? Another Extract from the “Record” of Dan Flavin, the Complete Contents of Which are Not as Spleenish as These Parts? Spleenish Aspects of a Record the Complete Contents of Which Have No Such Organs? DUCK! Mr. Greenberg, Miss Genauer, Mr. Kramer, Miss Lippard, Miss Rose, Mr. Fried, Mr. [] (1), Mr. [] (2), Miss [] (1), Miss [] (2), Mrs. [] (1), Mrs. [] (2)? More Pages from a Journal Which Isn’t Exactly Spleenish, but Read Between the Lines, all you English Sculptors, Light Artists, Kineticists, Ron Davis, Bob Smithson, Billy Banana, Art Critics, Museum Personnel, Art Magazine Editors and the Rest of You Crooks, Charlatans, Thieves and Parasites? Thirty-One More Entries, One of Which Has a Nice Word to Say for Claes Oldenburg? More Notes from One Who Greets the Population Explosion with Joy Because There Are That Many More Enemies to Make? COD, Transylvania? More Remarks From Li Po’s Wandering Ballpoint Lately Fallen into a Hippopotamus’s Footprint in Zambia Between the 18th and 19th Holes? CAUTION! These Fluorescent Tubes Bite the Hands That Pay the Light Bills?


Dear Sirs:
I hope you will permit me to offer a belated comment on Mr. Burnham’s Sculpture’s Vanishing Base (November).

Engrossed with the psychological, “protocol-setting” function of the sculptural base, Mr. Burnham neglects the formal uses to which the base has been put. The traditional pedestal does not necessarily imply “. . . a fixed situation . . . no room for mobility.”

In Bernini’s portrait of Louis XIV, for example, the relative smallness of the base gives a sense of overflowing, radiant energy to the bust, just as Brancusi’s small base establishes the scale of his Fish. And, again as in the Brancusi, Bernini introduces an intermediate zone, a horizontal fling of drapery, to separate the main form from the base and give it mobility.

A small plaster figure in the recent Duchamp-Villon show at Knoedler’s presents other possibilities. The strongly frontal plane of the upper torso is set’ at a sharp angle to the front edge of the base. This positioning is important in forcing the viewer to see the torso as a static core enclosed within a spiral movement.

In fact, so important are the functions of the architectural pedestal in fixing the relationship of the viewer to sculptural mass and space that they cannot easily be dispensed with. The modern withering of the base has been steadily accompanied by a reintegration of sculpture with other architectural elements, with floors, ceilings, and walls. Mr. Burnham notes the facts without seeing the connection. It is his inability to identify the formal problems of sculpture that allows Mr. Burnham to claim that modern sculpture is “. . . a different animal whose raison d’être is no longer that it embodies formal qualities, but that it exists as a physical system including invisible forces.” As if art were not always that!

—Amy Goldin
New York City

We now officially have a new Academy—self-proclaimed, intent on creating instant history, seeking out young adherents to affirm itself, and building its own pyramids.

Now evoking the classic argument of ITS image as “high art” in defense of those disappearing values they hold so dear, replete with appropriate dire predictions of decline and assimilation to pure entertainment and chaos for all that fail to hold the line, neatly defined in tightly knit linear arguments that allow NO alternatives.

All worked out neatly in front by a master of literary logic who, at middle age, finding that being a critic was not enough, now aspires to the role of sage and prophet.

All hail the new Academy! ! !

All hail the new Caesar! ! !

All hail the new Paris! ! !

—Robert Irwin
Los Angeles, Cal.

Regarding Jane Harrison Cone’s article on Kenneth Noland’s stripe paintings (November), may I congratulate the author on her lack of critical objectivity in being able to write that many words about these “new” works without once mentioning Gene Davis.

Since the target paintings of 1959, Noland’s work has been essentially heraldic or emblematic in concept. That is, his paintings have employed relatively few colors and presented a simplified image apparently designed to be read in a single glance.

The latest works, with narrow stripes and intricacy of color, impinge on Davis’s area of creativity in a major way. In all fairness, this fact should have been mentioned.

—Phoebe Frank
Bethesda, Maryland

In “Sculpture in Canada” (October, 1967), you state twice that Homage to Samuel Beckett is my first sculpture. You may have been told this is my first outdoor sculpture . . .

This configuration is the fourth sculpture where I have been using parallelepiped elements in primary colors. It was after seeing one of these sculptures last year that Miss Dorothy Cameron chose me to participate in her show, Sculpture ’67.

By the way, it may interest you to know that my very first sculpture was done in 1953.

—Guido Molinari
Montreal, Canada