In the catalogue for the exhibition, Janis wrote that just "as the Abstract Expressionist became the world-recognized painter of the 50s," so the new realist "may already have proved to be the pacemaker of the 60s."
From Surrealism in Exile and the Beginning of the New York School by Martica Sawin:
"On January 2, 1962, Kurt Seligmann, so the story goes, made a fire in his kitchen stove, set two places at the breakfast table, and went outside to try to shoot the rats who had been eating the feed he had put out for the birds. He slipped and fell on the ice, discharging a bullet into his skull. Secretive and ironic by disposition, given to encoding concealed meanings in his work, Seligmann died in a manner consistent with his character. He had been about to leave for Europe in 1958 when he suffered a heart attack - the receipt for the steamship ticket was still among his belongings when he died - and he carried nitroglycerine pills with him thereafter. His fear of a recurrence forced him to resign from his teaching job at Brooklyn College and give up his New York studio. Isolated in the country, eclipsed by the new American art after his successes of the 1940s, he painted canvases that are characterized by a ribbony disintegration... Arlette [his wife] prevailed on the local authorities to allow her to bury her husband at the farm in Sugar Loaf. His polished granite tombstone still looks out of place among the worn sandstone grave markers of the Wood family who farmed that land in the nineteenth century, a symbol of his ultimate nonassimilation in his place of refuge." (SS419/21)
Kline was admitted to St. Clare's Hospital as a result of the heart attack. On March 9th he went to stay with Elisabeth Ross Zogbaum at 461 West 18th Street and was put on a strict regime requiring that he be weighed daily. He was unable to paint. (FK180)
In a letter to John Coolidge, director of the Fogg Museum at Harvard, dated March 19, 1962, Bernard Reis noted that Rothko had moved into his new studio. Michael Goldberg had moved into Rothko's old studio at 222 Bowery by January 1, 1962. (RO647n1) The new studio was a second floor loft above a five-and-dime store on First Avenue between 77th and 78th Streets. According to Goldberg, Rothko wanted to move to a studio uptown because he didn't like the subway and was "too cheap" to take cabs from his home on 94th Street to his downtown studio. (RO451)
Goldberg had been brought to Rothko's studio by an artist friend of Rothko's, Ray Parker. Rothko wanted Goldberg to pay him $300 for the fake walls and pulleys he had installed for the Seagram murals. Goldberg suggested that Rothko leave the walls and pulleys for free as a favour to a young painter. Rothko refused. Instead he took Goldberg to a Chinese restaurant on Second Avenue, bought him lunch and a drink then returned to the studio with Goldberg and gave him a watercolour. But he still insisted on receiving the $300 for the make-shift walls and pulleys. (RO426)
Rothko agreed to produce a set of murals for the dining room in the penthouse of the Holyoke Center at the university, designed by José Luis Sert. The paintings, valued at $100,000, would go to the university as a gift with $10,000 going to Rothko to cover studio rent, materials and travel between New York and Cambridge. The university retained the right to refuse the paintings.
The project had been suggested to Rothko by Wassily Leontief, president of the Harvard Society of Fellows, who knew Rothko through Herbert Ferber. Leontief hoped to use the penthouse room as a meeting place for the Society of Fellows. However, by December 31 1961 Rothko knew that the space would be used as dining room - the Fellows could not afford the room. On December 14, A.D. Trottenberg, assistant dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, wrote to Rothko, "We would hope to use this room as a meeting and dining room for our senior people. It will be used as a place where our governing Boards, the Corporation and the Board of Overseers, will meet for lunch and dinner when they are in Cambridge." (RO447)
One problem which presumably Rothko did not take into consideration was that he envisioned his murals to be seen in subdued light (similar to the Seagram murals) but the room at Harvard was flooded with strong natural light, offering panoramic views of the Harvard campus and its environs. (The strong light would eventually cause major damage to Rothko's paintings.) (RO448)
Rothko began working on the Harvard murals by March 1962 in his new uptown studio. Twenty-seven preliminary studies exist which were created by applying poster paints to fifteen sheets of plum-colored construction paper - twelve of the sheets had images on both sides and one image was on pale-green construction paper. Also in existence are three pen-and-ink drawings on white paper. (RO648n15)/(RO451))
From Mark Rothko: A Biography by James E.B. Breslin:
"The quotations on this particular commodity were rising very rapidly. In 1957, Rothko had sold 17 paintings, at an average price of about $1,700; in 1958, he sold 13, at an average of $2,400; in 1959, 17, at an average of $5,400; in 1960, 11, at an average of $7,500; in 1961, 8, at an average of $12,000 - and in 1962, the year following the Museum of Modern Art show, 7, at an average of $18,000. As Rothko's prices rose, the number of paintings sold each year decreased, but not because his production was decreasing. Between 1949 (when he arrived at his format) and 1969 (the last full year of his life), Rothko - regardless of sales, shows, reviews, depressions, marital troubles, health problems - regularly produced about twenty paintings a year, as if his work provided the point of stability in an often turbulent life." (RO412-13)
Newman cast his 1950 sculpture Here I in an addition of two at the Modern Art Foundry in Queens in bronze with the help of Robert Murray. He named it after collector Marcia Weisman who had encouraged Newman to do the casting. (MH)
In an article published in the March 1962 issue of Art News titled "How Art Criticism Earns Its Bad Name," Greenberg referred to Rosenberg as a comedian. (IS189). Rosenberg fought back in an article the following year titled "The Premises of Action Painting" published in the May 1963 issue of Encounter magazine, referring to Greenberg (who was then working as a salaried advisor to the gallery French & Co.) as an "old salesman... purveying goods to the bewildered." (IS189)
Included Hans, Hofmann, Kenneth Noland, Michael Rosenfeld, Burgoyne Diller, Oli Sihvonen, Karl Benjamin, Theodore Roszak, Ellsworth Kelly, Lorser Feitelson, Sidney Gordin, John McLaughlin, Alfred Jensen, Karl Benjamin, David Smith, William P. Reimann, Helen Lundeberg, and others. Barnett Newman declined to participate.
Dreier had been on the Board of Trustees of the Society of Independent Artists (see 1916) and was one of the founders of the Société Anonyme (see April 30, 1920).
In order to become a citizen de Kooning traveled to Canada and then re-entered the U.S. legally, making it possible for him to apply for citizenship. He had originally entered the U.S. illegally on July 30, 1926 as a stowaway.
According to de Kooning's biographers, the show "fell flat." Alcopley ran into Helen Frankenthaler outside the gallery who told him (according to him) "Oh, there's nothing to see, let's go for a walk." (DK436-7)
Mera was of mixed race - born in Alabama to a black father and a Native American mother, Alberta. She moved to New York with Alberta who worked occasionally as an actress and gospel singer. Alberta was known at the Cedar and was a good friend of Jack Kerouac. Mera had dropped out of school at the age of sixteen, became pregnant and gave birth to a son. At the time an unmarried juvenile with a child could be sent to an institution if she was living outside the home. Alberta reported Mera and Mera spent over a year in such an institution, later calling it "jail." When she was eighteen years old she started hanging out at Birdland on Fifty-second Street and became involved with, according to her, "the guy who started the Singing Chipmunks." She later recalled, "I was pretty wild. I had lots of boyfriends, lots of boyfriends." (DK428)
Larry Rivers had originally introduced Bill to Mera at the Cedar during the late 1950s. At the time that Mera met de Kooning, Mera was again living with her mother in the Bedford Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. She later recalled that de Kooning, "was shorter than me, but it didn't matter. He was such a gorgeous guy. His hair and his eyes. He had these hazel green eyes. Matter of fact, he got better looking as he got older." She found him a "loud lover" who made "a lot of noise" although shy at first sometimes during lovemaking. Occasionally there were quarrels provoked by alcohol with Mera remembering "one time he threw me and my girlfriend out of the house. He gave us each a hundred dollar bill and said, 'Get the fuck out of here.' (DK429) But in general de Kooning got on not only with Mera but also with her mother and son. The son referred to the colours in de Kooning's paintings as "ice cream colors" - a phrase de Kooning would later use to describe his palette during a Harper's interview. When de Kooning gave Mera $500 to send her son to camp, Mera's mother, not realizing how much money de Kooning made from his paintings, commented 'Uh-oh, Bill must be selling drugs.'
"He [de Kooning] would go anywhere with me. you know, white guys in Bedford Stuyvesant... The kids used to follow him around. They loved him. He used to walk all over. He was interested in architecture - the forms of the buildings... He was a crazy Dutchman. My mother adored him because he was so much fun... She could relate to him more than I could because they were closer to the same age. He'd tell her about when he was a young boy. They'd be drinking Scotch." (DK428)
Mera also recalled a time when her group of friends got Bill to try other intoxicants:
"I know one time we got him to try some reefer. That was funny. I'd never seen anyone smoke reefer who acted as if he had been drinking. But it was still just like he was drinking liquor. I think someone got him a track of cocaine once. Still the same. (DK428)
According to Mera, after a doctor told de Kooning he was destroying his liver with all the alcohol he was drinking de Kooning would often dry out - visiting a doctor on 61st Street who would give him vitamin B injections. (DK429)
Bill and Mera's relationship lasted until the winter when Mera left him. Although she found him fascinating, she thought he was too old and melancholic for her and he would often leave for the Springs to visit Joan and Lisa, leaving her feeling lonely. So she left him for a Jewish pilot: "We were winding down. I met this Jewish pilot. Wow-ee. He just flew away with my heart. I saw a face that didn't look unhappy and didn't look sad. I said good-bye to Bill." (DK429)
According to Grokest, Rothko told him how "acutely depressed he was" and that he had started taking Surpicil again - a high blood pressure medication. Grokest told Rothko that the medication "does funny things to your adrenalin, affects concentration and nerve cells, and it accentuates depression," so Rothko stopped taking it. (RO424)
Rothko's brother, Albert, had been diagnosed with cancer of the colon in Washington where he worked as a translator for the CIA. He had been told that the cancer was incurable. It was the same type of cancer that had killed Rothko's father. Albert later recalled that when Mark found out he "dragged me to New York. He was skeptical of doctors." (RO424) Kenneth Rabin recalled that Rothko had sold paintings to a wealthy woman who he disliked and who had contributed lots of money to a New York hospital. Rabin said that Rothko "called her up and said, You've got to get my brother in there, and you can have whatever painting you want." (RO641n50)
The woman may have been Mary Lasker to whom Rothko sold two paintings in 1962: Number 1, 1962, was purchased by Lasker for $10,300 and Number 2, 1962 for $15,000. Payment to Rothko was made in four annual installments from 1962 - 1965. (In 1962 he received $1,000 for Number 1 and $1,500 for Number 2.) (RO641n50)
Records also show that two small abstractions by Rothko owned by his brother were sold to Lawrence Rubin for $2,667 each. Apparently, Rothko gave the works to his brother to sell, possibly to raise money for his treatment. (RO641n50)
In late 1962, Rothko wrote to Herbert Ferber in Paris, mentioning a second mural project for a private dining room at Harvard University - but "over all" he noted "hangs the shadow of my brother." (RO425)
Kline, who had suffered his first heart attack in February 1962, was admitted into New York Hospital on May 4, 1962. (FK180) Willem de Kooning planned to visit him in hospital but changed his mind at the last minute. Ruth Kligman was with him at the time and he thought she looked too dressed up and lively for the hospital visit. He later told a friend "She looked like a Christmas tree." (DK437)
Kline had been invited to attend a White House dinner on May 11 for the French Minister of Culture, André Malraux but was unable to attend due to his heart ailment. Mark Rothko and Andrew Wyeth were also invited. (NF)
Kline's obituary in the May 15th issue of The New York Times noted that "his death occurred at the apex of his career, at a time when the avant-grade [sic] movement of which he was so conspicuous a member had achieved the dominant position in New York sales rooms and had affected the international scene in painting more decisively than any previous American movement in the arts." (NF)
The obituary also noted that "In 1956 his paintings were among those of the American abstract expressionists shown at the Tate Gallery, London. The following year his pictures were included in the United States display at the international art exhibition at Sao Paulo, Brazil."
The funeral was held at St. Bartholomew's Protestant Episcopal Church on Park Avenue at 51st Street. (FK180)
After a service at the Lehighton Episcopal Church he was buried in Hollenback Cemetery, Wilkes-Barre, overlooking the Susquehanna River. (FK180)
This time Rothko had shingles, persistent bronchitis, a return of his gout (after stopping his medication), an injury from a fall, exhaustion and depression. (RO424-5)
The following year the show traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Musa Meyer [Philip Guston's daughter]:
"In May 1962, as I was completing my sophomore year of college, I flew to New York for the opening of my father's retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum... 'I'm a goner,' my father said that night before the opening. Half humorously, he drew his finger across his throat, tilted his head, and rolled up his eyes, mimicking a gruesome demise. 'That's it,' he groaned, 'I'm finished now. I'm done for.' He shuddered, as if the whole event chilled him. Somebody brought him a drink. My mother stood there, smiling nervously. She hated openings as much as he did... The next year, when his retrospective was in Los Angeles, my father spent a full month in California, ostensibly to be there while the exhibition was hanging at the L.A. County Museum of Art, but staying longer than he had planned to prolong an affair with a wealthy collector. My father was fifty years old. He was drinking too much, and smoking and eating too much. He wasn't sleeping. After years of this sort of punishment, his health had begun to suffer. His work was in decline. Implicitly, the message of the Guggenheim retrospective seemed to be that the best of his work - and his life - was behind him." (MM99-100)
Organized by his artist friends, the memorial tribute was held on what would have been Kline's 52nd birthday. (FK180)
The "something new" was Pop Art. The article featured Wayne Thiebaud's "assembly lines of pies and cakes," the "gigantic fragments of billboard images" by James Rosenquist, sculpture by George Segal and "giant cartoons" by Roy Lichtenstein. (RO429)
Grokest recalled that Rothko had one of the worst staph infections he had ever seen which infected "literally every hair follicle" on Rothko's face, ears, left shoulder and wrist. According to Grokest, Rothko "kept telling me how fatigued he was," but "my attempt at that point to tell him again that the bugs take over if you're depleted didn't sink in." (RO425)
Just as Oldenburg had exhibited sculptural representations of foodstuffs at his "Store" in 1961, Warhol exhibited visual representations of different flavoured soups in the first exhibition of his Pop paintings in a public gallery at Irving Blum's Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. To the displeasure of many of the surviving first generation Abstract Expressionists, figuration was on its way back in the form of Pop Art.
Warhol's exhibition at the Ferus received a considerable amount of general press coverage - much of it humorous - before he was picked up by the art press. Warhol's fame started with the general public and worked its way up to the New York artellectuals.
Ivan Karp [art dealer - previously Leo Castelli's assistant]:
"The resistance on the part of the establishment - critics, other details, museum people and even collectors - to the idea of a new ideology in the arts was seen... as a threat to the established, on-going principle which was Abstract Expressionism... it was not the fine arts society or press that reacted to the Warhol show to begin with. It was the fashion press, and they picked up on it... the imagery itself was an extrapolation of known images of not only the cartoon world and of the commercial movie world and of the movie world. This was the world that was familiar to the fashion press..." (PSM354)
Prior to the Ferus exhibition no dealer would take Warhol on in New York. Although many of the Abstract Expressionists had done commercial illustration jobs to support themselves while trying succeed as fine artists, Warhol was a well-known, successful commercial illustrator by the time he exhibited his Pop work and he was also openly gay. He had not hung out at the Club or the Cedar and rather than making a secret of his commercial art career, he openly embraced commercialism - and homosexuality (unlike Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg who did window design under an assumed name and never admitted the nature of their relationship with each other). And whereas the drug of choice among the Abstract Expressionists was alcohol the drug of choice among Warhol's factoryites was Speed. The free-wheeling drug-fueled sixties had replaced the alcoholic fifties and Warhol was one of the new icons.
Emile de Antonio [filmmaker and friend of Warhol]:
"It's funny. They - Bob [Rauschenberg] and Jap [Jasper Johnsons] - didn't want to meet Andy at the beginning... I tried to bring them together, and... Andy was too effeminate for Bob and Jap... I think his openly commercial work made them nervous because they really had their commercial work... They also, I think, were suspicious of what Andy was doing - his serious work - because it had obvious debts to both of them in a funny way... at the time that Andy was trying to break through and out... Jasper and Rauschenberg were already well-known and successful and making money and not keen to align themselves with Andy. (PSM294/5)
After the publicity generated by the Ferus show, Warhol was picked up by a New York dealer, Eleanor Ward, and had his first Pop show in New York at her gallery, the Stable Gallery, from November 6 to 24, 1962.
(See "When Eleanor Ward was forced to cancel a planned Alex Katz exhibition in 1962, she decided to show Warhol instead..." in the Warholstars.org "Pre-Pop" section)
De Kooning, who was drifting away from his dealer Sidney Janis, allowed Stone to sell some smaller works. (DK451)
Peggy Guggenheim had donated Slow Swirl to the San Francisco Museum of Art in June 1946. Rothko traded a more expensive untitled work for it and gave Slow Swirl to his wife Mell. Rothko's daughter Kate later commented that "It was the first painting she (Mell) felt she had participated in." (RO215)
In galleries designed by Tony Smith, Newman's work was hung side by side to de Kooning's. Newman's work, at last, garnered some favourable press. Thomas Hess who in 1951 had referred to Newman as a "genial theoretician" now referred to him as one of the "most remarkable artists alive today." (MH)
Although Rothko had warned John Coolidge, the director of the Fogg Museum, that although he planned on completing the murals in a year, he would have to paint "three or four sets" before finding a "satisfactory" one. Whereas Rothko worked on the Seagram murals for about twenty months, he apparently finished the Harvard murals within 9 months. (RO451)
The Harvard Corporation sent the president of Harvard University, Nathan Pusey to visit Rothko's studio to view the triptych and three single works Rothko had completed to determine their acceptability.
Pusey later recalled that when he arrived at the studio building ("a rickety old building on a rickety old street") Rothko wasn't in. Pusey noticed a "burly fellow dressed like a workingman" hurrying across First Avenue carrying a cardboard ice bucket. It turned out to be Rothko. Once in the studio Rothko served drinks in paint-stained glasses and asked Pusey what he thought of five canvases which Pusey remembered as "eggplant-colored". Pusey, initially at a loss for words, commented, "Gee, that's kind of sad" which, as Pusey later recalled, "was obviously the right thing say." Rothko was delighted by his reaction and the two men had a "wonderful talk" about the works, with Rothko explaining that the triptych evoked Good Friday and his final pink and white canvas suggested Christ's resurrection on Easter morning. (RO446)
According to Rothko biographer, James E.B. Breslin, "To others, Rothko also compared these paintings, as he often had the Four Season panels, with Michelangelo's walls around the staircase in the Medici Library in Florence, as if his sequence did not evoke death and renewal but imposed frustration and entrapment." (RO446)
On November 5, 1962 the Harvard Corporation agreed to accept the Rothko paintings. (RO446)
Included work from France, England, Italy Sweden and the United States. Americans included Jim Dine, Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, George Segal and Andy Warhol (200 Campbell Soup Cans).
In the catalogue for the exhibition, Janis wrote that just "as the Abstract Expressionist became the world-recognized painter of the 50s," so the new realist "may already have proved to be the pacemaker of the 60s."
"After the opening, Burton and Emily Tremaine, well-known collectors, invited me over to their house on Park Avenue. I went and was surprised to find Andy Warhol, Bob Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Wesselmann there... my painting Hey! Let's Go for a Ride! and Warhol's Marilyn diptych were hanging on the wall next to fantastic Picassos and de Koonings. Right in the middle of our party, de Kooning came through the door with Larry Rivers. Burton Tremaine stopped them in their tracks and said, 'Oh so nice to see you. But please, at any other time.' I was very surprised and so was de Kooning. He and the others with him soon left. Now Mr. Tremaine had never met de Kooning, and probably didn't know him by sight, which was surprising because he had bought some of this paintings, but it was a shock to see de Kooning turned away. At that moment I thought, 'Something in the art world has definitely changed.'" (LD155)
In protest of the exhibition, Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, Philip Guston and Robert Motherwell resigned from Janis' Gallery. (RO639n17) Guston's daughter Musa Mayer recalled that "Overnight, it seemed, the art world changed. My father was in despair over the selling of art, over the slick, depersonalized gloss - not only of Pop Art, but of Minimalism as well - that was taking center stage in New York. Art was no longer struggle; art had become marketing." (MM101-2)
"Our first Pop exhibition was held in 1961 [actually 1962], under the title The New Realists. As a result of this, many younger artists joined the gallery, among them Dine, Oldenburg, Segal, and Wesselmann. This was a step that the older artists, particularly Guston, Motherwell, Gottlieb, and Rothko, strongly opposed. They held a protest meeting and decided not to be associated with what they believed to be Johnnys-come-lately, and withdrew from the gallery as a body. I tried to induce them to stay, explaining that the younger artists could not be considered competitive, but all in vain. As disturbing as it was, we continued with the Pop generation, which in the meantime has made its own reputation. Incidentally, Bill de Kooning was one of the artists who attended that fateful meeting. I later heard that he offered no protest. He was the only one who stayed with the gallery. I always felt that Pollock and Kline, both of whom had died, would have remained as well." (AD40)
Resigning from the gallery left Rothko without a dealer from October 1962 to June 1963. He would sign up with the Marlborough Galleries on June 10, 1963. (RO639n17)
"The dealer gets a third, taxes take another third, and there's only a third left from my family. Why pay a dealer? I can sell four or five paintings a year from the studio and have plenty to live on." (RO416)
An article about Donald Blinken's art collection included a photograph of two Rothko paintings hanging in Blinken's living room. (RO637-8n12)
"The one thing Rothko could not tolerate was what he viewed as infidelity to his art. If you bought something, you could take your time, you didn't have to make quick decisions, but once you had it, he was very unhappy if you decided in six months really that you didn't want it, or you sold it to someone else or traded it in. He felt that was a kind of betrayal, because what you were acquiring from him was, yes, oil on canvas, but it was also part of his psyche and his feeling about the world, and if you suddenly changed your mind about that, you were not only rejecting the picture, you were rejecting a piece of him." (RO418)
Blinken had purchased Rothko's Three Reds (1955) in May 1956. Approximately six months later he purchased Blue over Orange (1956) and an untitled watercolour from 1946. In 1958 he bought Number 9, 1958. In the early sixties he bought Number 117, 1961. (RO639n22)
Elaine de Kooning initially arranged the sittings in late 1962 to paint a single portrait of the president for the Harry S. Truman library. Instead, she ended up painting a whole series of portraits.