Transcript:

Interviewer: What they call Santa Fe.

Corn: Of the Stiglitz circle, the artists that came here and were most impressed by the landscape and by the inhabitants of this beautiful part of the world were Martsen Hartley. He came in about 1918 and stayed less than a year. And then he was followed by Paul Strand, who came later in the 1920s with his wife, Rebecca Strand. And then George O'Keefe came in 1929. And her presence here during the summer also inspired John Marrin to come. And later, Ansel Adams came and she met him. George O'Keefe met Ansel Adams while here in in in Tullis. Actually, not not Santa Fe.

Corn: The eyes of the Stiglitz circle came to the southwest for a myriad number of.

Interviewer: OK, hold it, hold it, hold it, hold it. No, no, you're out. I mean, I'm talking to myself. OK.

Interviewer: OK, yes. Tell us tell us about. You can hear my voice now, so when I came, they came. Why did you.

Corn: You know, the artists of the Stieglitz circle came to the Southwest for a number of reasons. First, it was the landscape. It was a barren desert landscape, but with tremendous variety. And in that landscape, there was also reputedly the freshest, best healthy air in the United States. In many of the artists were actually seeking to kind of restore themselves and be in an environment that had good, clean air. And then most importantly, I suppose they came here because it was such an alternative to the urban environment that they usually lived in Manhattan.

Interviewer: More on that. I can give you only alternative, yes, more.

Interviewer: More on that. Also the spiritual thing.

Corn: Well, that we'll get there. We'll get there when I. OK. The Southwest offered an alternative to Manhattan. Manhattan, of course, was the city of hustle and bustle, of skyscrapers, of busyness, of economics, of capitalism, of a marketing ethos in the Southwest. It seemed like a counterculture. And it was at that time, it was a slower pace of life. And it had and most importantly, native inhabitants. That is, it had the Native Americans who have been here for dozens of centuries. And it also had the Hispanic settlers who had been here for some centuries since since the conquest as well. And those two populations so different to the East Coast minds that came here to understand them and absorb them. They felt that the feeling was that these populations really had a way of life that was extremely attractive. It had a certain religiosity to it. An honoring of the earth, a living close to the everyday landscape and to the beautiful weather that was here. And that was all very trin a transcendent experience for many artists.

Corn: Just the color of the south. The short one Secretan.

Corn: OK, go listen to the color of the southwest is so different from other parts of the country. I suppose most people think of it as ochre and orange and the sandy colors of the desert. But what's very special about northern New Mexico is that these dusty colors are broken by the green of the sage, the Mace's, which protrude up out of the desert landscape that give a variety of landscape to it. Georgia O'Keeffe once said she couldn't imagine a landscape that startled.

Corn: The colors of the south west are really very beautiful and very different to anybody coming to this landscape for the first time. It is, after all, a desert culture. It's a desert part of the world. The desert itself has sandy colors, but also a great deal of orange and red in them. And then if you go out to where O'Keefe liked to paint in the hills and the cliffs around Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch, the colors there are yellow and red and white, but they melt down into those kind of orange of the desert. It's a very beautiful palette, but it's without the kinds of blues or greens, the kind of trees and bushes that we might associate with a more eastern climate.

Interviewer: Could you tell us a little bit about the individual artists and how they reacted and how they were different? I mean, for instance, what? Tell us a little bit about Hartley.

Corn: Who do you want me to first tell you that they all came? We never did get that them. You want me to first tell you. OK. Do that again. Yeah. Yeah. Without dates. OK. The artists of the Stieglitz circle, they came to the southwest included Marston Hartley. He came the earliest of any of them. And then came Paul Strand and his wife, Rebecca. Georgia O'Keeffe. John Meryn and Ansel Adams, who became associated with the Stigwood Circle later and in his indistinct circles, life that's not so good. I'll try to get it right again. OK. The artist of the sacred circle that came to northern New Mexico included Martsen Hartley, who was the first to come. And then came later. Paul and Rebecca Strand, Georgia O'Keeffe. Georgia O'Keeffe brought John Marin distributed to do.

Interviewer: But I don't want you to just just list them it because that kind of that kind of confuses me. I'd like to say Poole's brand came in.

Interviewer: I have to bring in a picture of Rebecca's.

Corn: Not a bad thing. That's another woman. Also.

Corn: The artists of the Stieglitz circle that came to northern New Mexico included Marston Hartley. He came first and then Paul Strand, then Georgia O'Keeffe, Georgia O'Keeffe, Lord John married to this beautiful landscape. Ansel Adams also came to visit a year or two later.

Corn: Hardly came during Oak Park.

Corn: Hardly came to Santa Fe in about nineteen, seventeen, eighteen. And he came partially because that was the year of the epidemic and he wanted to be in this healthy, in and reviving landscape. He also came because he was very interested in Native American cultures. He'd done a picture set of pictures called America while he was in Germany in nineteen fourteen fifteen. Based on the American Indian whose places he had never seen, he never visited the Southwest before. But he had the possibility of finding Indian artifacts in the ethnographic museums of Berlin.

Corn: And he wrote to Stieglitz and he said that this new interest in Indian culture was so great for him that he really wanted to visit the Southwest. So when he came back to America, he came here and he came here partially because of the Pueblo Indians who have been resident here for centuries. When he was here, he painted something of their artifacts. He tended not to paint figures, in fact, for most of the Stieglitz artists. It was not about figures. It was not about the Indians themselves, but it was about their their churches, their crosses, their juggs, their jars, their beautiful blankets they made still lives. I call them ethnic ensembles out of the variety of handcrafts that we identify not only with a Native American, but the Hispanic culture here in the Southwest.

Interviewer: You don't need to. Yeah. OK.

Corn: Hartley made his first pictures about Native Americans in, of all places, Berlin. He made them in 1914. He made a series of pictures which he called America with a K rather than a C. This set of pictures are kind of cubist in their composition, but they convey the kind of stereotypes of Native Americans, their canoes, their tepees, their long feathered headdresses. And he really makes a composite of the various ways in which the Indian culture has been popularized. He had never visited any Indian culture, whether that of the plains or that of the Southwest. But he knew that the American interest in Germany was great deal of interest. They even had a word for it. They called it American Isthmus, which was this fascination and enthusiasm for things America, and it included enthusiasm for the Native American cultures here. So Hartley made these ensembles, these collages of Indian motifs for the German audience. And it was out of that experience finding their artifacts in Germany, in Berlin, where he was saying going to the ethnographic museum where he could find some of their beautiful crafts and and headdresses.

Corn: He then decided he had to really go and visit and have more authentic experience with Native American Indian culture. And that's when he made the decision that he would go to the southwest.

Interviewer: Good.

Interviewer: OK. They're coming. They came for tacos. And there's something about. OK.

Corn: The artist came first to Santa Fe and then a little north to Taos. Those were their first two sets of residences in Taos.

Corn: They had the benefit of a beautiful home, a hacienda that was owned and run by Mabel Dodge, Luann Mabel Dodge.

Corn: Lou Horne had been in town since the early years of the war and she really made it possible for artists like O'Keefe, her first couple of summers, to have a guest house and also a small space where she could have her studio. Mabel was a wonderful hostess, and she introduced many of the artists for the first time to the beauties and to the native cultures of this area. And then a few years after O'Keefe came here, she discovered the area out around Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch, which is on the way to Arizona from Santa Fe. It's about sixty five miles out of Santa Fe. And that became her terrain, her New Mexico.

Interviewer: Tell us a little bit about some of the things that they did when they read those, you know, in Taos.

Corn: There were lots of possibilities for seeing indigenous culture. The Taos Reservation, a Pueblo village of many centuries standing, was opened to the public. Its dances were often visited by tourists and and members of the community. The reservation is large. It's very beautiful. It's very old. It has some of the oldest standing Pueblo buildings, many of them multistory, sort of early skyscrapers, you could say, of American culture.

Corn: There was also the beautiful churches in the area. The most famous one, which was Ranchos Church raunchiest, was painted by almost every artist that pass through Taos. In fact, Georgia O'Keeffe, safe, said once, if you were there three days, you had to paint that church. And there was also a beautiful little cemetery downtown, a Spanish cemetery filled with the artificial cloth flowers that Georgia O'Keeffe was so attracted to when she first came here. And that cemetery was also a place where many of the artists painted. It was a beautiful community. It was also very remote. It had a mountain range. It had the Rio Grande, which ran round down in the valley at the edge of town. And it had all of the kind of beauties of New Mexico packed into one very tight little space.

Interviewer: Good.

Corn: John Marrin also came to tell us sort of a surprise because John Marrin was so wedded to the New England coast and to the Manhattan skyscraper. Seems odd that he might want to come out here. But it was O'Keefe really who convinced him that this was such a thrilling piece of America that he ought to come and stay also at Mable Dodge Lohan's house. So he came and he did a whole number of landscapes here. Primarily, he was interested, as was Hartley and O'Keefe, in the beauty of the land. But he did a couple of pictures of dances of the Native Americans dancing at the reservation. And those are quite unusual.

Interviewer: And I think we're always surprised to learn that John Marrin did his Indian pictures as well as some of the things that he did there when O'Keefe first arrived in New Mexico.

Corn: She stayed in a hotel in Santa Fe. And then Mable Dodge Luman insisted that she come north and stay with her. And Georgia O'Keeffe did and spent the summer there. And very much in a kind of mode that we might call a tourist artist mode. She painted the raunchiest church. She painted the beautiful buildings at the town's pueblo. She painted a little Virgin of Guadalupe Bay. The following year. She did Katrina dolls. She really was trying to learn this territory or she would have put it to sort of sink her roots in a new place. She also did her series of crosses, which are so well-known to Georgia O'Keeffe's public. Those were pictures of the first summer. She was very much taken by the wooden, white and sometimes gray, weathered or black crosses that the penitentiary societies erect in the northern New Mexico landscape. And they kind of crop up in unexpected places. They have a kind of folk vernacular form to them. And O'Keefe, as a lapsed Catholic, found these very beautiful and very religious, although not used in a very openly religious way. But there they people the landscape and against the hills or against the desert, they are stark monuments of the Catholic presence in this part of the world. O'Keefe once said that the Catholic religion hangs over New Mexico like a veil and you can't escape it. She also once said something like, if they had only tried hard, they would have made me a Catholic again.

Corn: That's not quite the quote. But it's the gist.

Interviewer: OK. OK. About women. Women.

Corn: You know, Georgia O'Keeffe, I think, found the Southwest very simpatico because it was filled with women very much like herself. Strong, independent, running their own lives, having their own homes. Somehow the Southwest, because it was still slightly frontier, because it didn't have a business core, had less hierarchy and less difference between men and women than other parts of the country. And I think O'Keefe found here that she could mold a life herself without all the interferences that she had to run from Stieglitz and from the circle when she was in Manhattan. And that was true also of Mabel Dodge, Lou Horne. She set an example of how a woman could lead an independent life here, make a home and really run it as boss in a way that wasn't always possible in the more complicated city atmosphere.

Interviewer: Do you think that O'Keefe did such such good work there? I mean, she really you know, this is she really, you know, just flowing now.

Corn: O'Keefe, the minute she arrived, felt she had come to heaven. She really wrote ecstatic letters back east to Stieglitz, to her friends, saying that she was in love and she used the word love. Often that song that first summer, and she would continue to radiate a pleasure and a joy at being in this particular very strange and exotic landscape. But for her, something she felt very comfortable in.

Corn: Now, where were we going? That's right. But where were we going?

Interviewer: Well, was a you get you you gave it to me. OK, Steve. Oh, yes. OK.

Corn: You know, the other reason I think stick start again. The other reason, I think Georgia O'Keeffe found a certain kind of home here, her kind of home was that she did come alone most of the time. Stieglitz never came to the southwest. She often encouraged him, she said, but he always found reasons not to come. Now, partially, these were health reasons. He had a heart disease in the 30s when she was beginning to have her summer stays here. But he was also not a traveling man. He was very wedded to certain routines. Going to Lake George in the summer, back to Manhattan in the winter. And, you know, it was those routines that really George O'Keefe found him stifling. She really determined Steagles would often say, well, Georgia can't find anything to paint here this summer meeting Lake George, where they were staying at Stieglitz, his family home. And O'Keefe herself would say it's too green here. There's not enough variety. I need big open spaces. So she had a certain brief against Lake George. By the time she came here, and I think because this was something about her youth in the diary lands of Wisconsin, her teaching years in the flat plains of Texas, there was something here that she felt was really hers. And because she came by herself and lived here each summer breaking her routines from Stieglitz and from Manhattan, it became her landscape, not their landscape, but her landscape.

Interviewer: Beautiful, beautiful.

Interviewer: A little.

Interviewer: Some of the other people.

Corn: , you know, the Stieglitz circle artists were not the first to discover the Southwest by any means. In fact, photographers had come here in the 80s, 90s to photograph Native Americans, their dwellings, their houses, with this fear that somehow that was a passing or vanishing civilization. Then came the anthropologists and the ethnologists, and then the tourists started to come between nineteen hundred and World War One. And amongst those tourists, many artists arrive usually just to spend summer months. Two of them from New York are well-known. Robert Henri and John Sloanes summered out here. Think it's important to remember that almost all these artists summered at first, although some of them would then later stay like O'Keefe and establish a life here. But hen Ryan Sloan came to also depict native cultures and sometimes Sloan even made wonderful pictures of Anglo tourists, sort of like vultures watching the dances, buying the trinkets, the jewelry, and acting just like bad, ugly Americans often do when they become avid tourists.

Corn: What do you know? You know, the modern artists were not the first artists to come to the Southwest. First came the photographers who documented the Southwest in the late 19th century. Then came artists like these so-called Taoist society of artists who came to paint Indian cowboy life, but also the kind of Hispanic culture that it was here as well. And then came artists like two well-known ones from New York, Robert Henry and John Sloan, both of whom spent summers here. It was only after that influx that you'd get the modernist coming primarily in the 1920s. Does that work better?

Interviewer: Good. Good.

Interviewer: The American thing, it was a reconnection why they went out there.

Corn: But, you know, one of the reasons that the artists of the Stiglitz circle came to the Southwest was because all of them were very invested in creating a new modern American kind of painting. After the war, there was really an interest in not only being modern, but also American. And they were American subjects here. Or so it was defined. They thought the American Indian was a kind of ancestry. They were in love with the Indians, naturalness, living and in close harmony with the earth living and also acting out in. Oh, that's not good. That's right. I could go, OK. I'll pick it up. All right. I'll just pick up. You know, they there was a feeling that the Native American culture was America's Greece and Rome. It was our earliest civilization. It was our earliest piece of history. So the modernist and Hartly was particularly fine in this because he did it's written essays, created a genealogy that traced their ancestry back to the Native American cultures. It was a very forced genealogy, but they did romance the fact that they had an early original culture on American soil. And this became for them an American thematic. They also felt the wide open spaces had something indigenously American to them. After all, deserts are not European. There's something very American. So to come here and paint the red ochres of the desert and the sagebrush was another American theme.

Interviewer: Rate is cut.

Corn: One of the influences on the Stieglitz circle, I think, is so, again, one. One person who came to the Southwest was not an American, but an Englishman, and that was D.H. Lawrence. And he came at the invitation of Dave Mabel Dodge Loon. He came and lived here, wrote about the Southwest with a kind of passion and a kind of understanding for the what he would call the spiritual qualities of this part of the country that no one had expressed in quite the same way. The Stiglitz circle were great fans of D.H. Lawrence. In fact, Stieglitz even helped to try to get an addition of Lady Chatterley's Lover into this country. You know, that was a banned novel at that time. D.H. Lawrence never met Stieglitz. He never met George O'Keefe. He had died by the time George O'Keefe came to this part of the world. And interestingly, when D.H. Lawrence came, he came not through the east, not through Manhattan, but through the Pacific. He came into San Francisco's port and then came down to the southwest. D.H. Lawrence was somebody they could read on the Southwest. And he expressed a complete sort of. Lawrence had an ability to encapsulate the way in which Native American practices, religious practice had a what he thought was a quality of life, a spiritual quality of life that had been lost in modern civilization. So he would compare the reverence to the land or he would compare the reverence for the land with the businessman's drive to make the almighty buck. And for him, this was the real American landscape, not the landscape of the city.

Corn: And that was appealing to the to the Stieglitz book.

Corn: Now, tell us. Well, the Stiglitz circle had often painted or photographed the city, but always with ambiguity and ambivalence as to their feelings about what the city represented. For them, it was as much a hardware as a delight. And D.H. Lawrence reveries on the South West made it sound like it was the authentic America it was. Where they should go was a kind of mecca to really see the start of their country. He was an A.I. Manhattanite at that particular time.

Interviewer: Rob, why they didn't.

Corn: You know, it's very interesting, but not all artists wanted to come to the Southwest. It did not have lure and romance for everyone. And many of the modern artists, those particularly that celebrated this machine age in their work. And here I'm thinking of Charles DeMuth or Charles Sheeler, both important members of the art community in Manhattan. They did not pilgrimage to the Southwest. This was not their America. There America was, in fact, the city, the skyscraper, the hustle and bustle and modern civilization that they thought Manhattan represented. In fact, they were even a little cynical about artists fleeing to the Southwest, seeing them as retreat. Retreat. Seeing OK, pick it up, OK. Seeing them as retreating from the real modernity. As moving back in a kind of hokum way to a false past. So there was a nice antagonism, if you will, or dialogue and and debate about whether the Southwest was the great American space or whether Manhattan was the great American space. And it's important, I think, to recognize that that the Southwest was for the artists who sought some kind of spiritual and emotional and expressive kind of art. The Southwest was important. But for those who felt that it was about the machine age, about architecture, about new things, brand name products, it was Manhattan that was America for them.

Corn: Now, we haven't talked about Stuart Davis specifically. No.

Interviewer: Thank you.

Corn: You know, one actress that we societe closely with machine age, iconography and colors and composition is Stuart Davis, an unlikely candidate really for the Southwest. But given that it had such publicity as an artist space, he did spend one summer here and he tried very hard to find a vocabulary. A Southwest vocabulary that suited him. And he finally left. He sort of threw it all up.

Corn: He painted the one funny satirical picture of a light bulb in the little cabin where he was staying, the great light of the southwest. And he went back and he said, this is a space for ethnologist, not for artists.

Corn: You want more? When he was show, I could go. OK.

Corn: Wednesday, where Davis was here. He did do pictures of gateways, of cemeteries, of the Masons. And he kept looking for something that really energized him as subject matter. Now, you have to remember, this is a man who likes to paint brand name products, who would soon paint pictures about a mouthwash called Odle. This was not modern America to him. He struggled. Eventually, he made one very amusing picture of a empty or eventually he made one unusual picture of an Edison light bulb hanging bare in the little studio room that he had in the Southwest, mocking the famed Land of Enchantment with its magnificent, miraculous sunlight.

Corn: And then later, he said he wasn't going to go back. He was he had discovered that the Southwest was the land for if now. Oh, yeah. Well, OK, go, go. We got the light bulb story. I think we got that one down right. So it was just. Yeah, just the quote. OK. And later he said to a friend that the summer had proved to him that the Southwest was for ethnographers, but not for artists.

Interviewer: OK, try to at the end of the line, try to hold.

Corn: When Stuart Davis returned from his summer in Santa Fe and Toss, he said he had discovered that the Southwest wasn't a land for ethnographers but not for artists.

Interviewer: Hold it, hold it, hold it. Wait, wait, wait. OK.

Corn: OK. A little, yeah.

Corn: The reasons that the artist came to the Southwest were numerous. It was the beautiful landscape or different landscape, the desert country with its Mace's and arroyos. It was also reputedly a very good place for health. There were sanatoria here that healed Trubek. Tuberculosis patients started.

Corn: It was awesome. We'll just get started. OK, start again. All right. Don't go. We do that. OK. OK. OK.

Corn: Artists came to the Southwest for a number of reasons. One was the stark and beautiful desert landscape so different from what they had ever seen in their travels elsewhere. It was also high. This is high mountain country and the ears were healthy and and refreshing. They came also because they were native cultures here. There was a great deal of interest in Native American culture and also the Hispanic settlers who had brought their churches and Catholicism to this part of the world. So they came for a lot of different reasons. They also came because it was a landscape where they could find new kinds of ways of composing and creating color. The set of colors in this landscape are unlike anything that we would think of as an urban landscape, having their dry colors there, the reds and the art ranges and the ochres of the desert, the dark, gloomy greens of the sage, the really beautiful skies and flat horizons. Often, though, punctuated by Macy's visit, these were the colors that attracted them. And O'Keefe particularly made a kind of nouveau color vocabulary out of what she found here.

Corn: If you ask me here to the whole.

Interviewer: Wondered when when did New York become a subject for artists?

Corn: New York as a landscape only became of interest to artists during the Impressionist period, which is the late 19th century, and then we find that artists interested in painting a modern landscape come to New York or in New York and begin to wander the streets and paint the avenues, paint the skyscrapers that are newly coming into focus and begin to sort of sort out to them.

Interviewer: Why did New York become a subject for artists?

Corn: New York City was first painted in the 19th century, and the very first paintings we have, New York City, are of rag pickers and urchins on the street. But then suddenly it was discovered to be an urban scape. That is a landscape that artists could paint in different kinds of light. And during thunderstorms and fog and bring an impressionist palette.

Interviewer: It's just the beginning. I mean.

Interviewer: What about when when did New York become a subject for artists?

Speaker The first scenes of New York are by painters who found the street life interesting urchins pedlars. Newspaper sellers, but by the end of the 19th century, those views began to be replaced by what we might call New York scapes, landscapes, looking artists, looking at the city as a panorama that they could depict in an impressionist mode, in different kinds of light, different seasons, different moments of the day. That impressionist landscape was the first real recognition that New York City had an appeal for artists. An appeal that could, in fact, be exploited for a variety of styles. Buyer of viruses.

Interviewer: Tell me, did New York become for this?

Corn: Well, the first artist to paint New York or genre painters who painted the peddlers and the newspaper boys and the urchins of New York streets. But by the end of the 19th century, that kind of painting had disappeared and been replaced by the impressionist point of view of the city, which is it's this moving panorama scene under different types of light and different seasons and can be seen in it for its own sake as a kind of landscape beauty. But, of course, a beauty that is manmade rather than God made. And it's the American impressionist artist that first began to explore New York City as a subject.

Interviewer: Well, you had said something about the the elegant New York.

Corn: What kind of New York with a with a painting? The impressionist New York was the New York of Fifth Avenue, fashionable New York, the New York of brownstones, the New York of the New Brooklyn Bridge, which spanned the East River in the eighteen eighties. They painted the New York of Henry James, we might say fashionable women walking down the streets, arches and monuments in city parks. It wasn't New York, but it brings back mind to mind djent, days of gentility and the late Gilded Age.

Interviewer: Like London.

Corn: The point of view that they brought to the to New York was very often like that, that the impression is we're bringing to Paris, where they were painting the new Paris, the house maney in Paris of the big avenues and the new lights and the new apartment houses at the time.

Interviewer: How did this how did it change the picture? What they were doing? And, you know, when when did it change and how did it change the.

Corn: Increasingly, artists began to realize that New York was no longer like an international city the size of and the type of London and Paris that it had special features that was that were peculiar to Manhattan. Those special features we know so well today, the skyscrapers that were blossoming and creating canyons between them, the bridges that were spanning the great rivers, big crowdedness that were beginning to kind of bring Manhattan together in a great congested hole. Increasingly, it came to seem that this was a and it was called this at the time, a new New York. And there was a book written up called The New New York in 1989 to really sensitize and to bring people along to see that New York was becoming a city that unlike any other in the world. And artists helped produce that view of New York, New York, not as a genteel city of brownstones, parks and fashionable avenues, but New York now of hustle and bustle, of elevators, of subways, of electric lights, and of the kind of modern Stutman.

Corn: A New York of modernity and modernity that was peculiarly American, it was thought not at all common to cities elsewhere.

Interviewer: Very good. Hold, hold of a cup, please. Yes.

Interviewer: OK.

Interviewer: Who were some of the artists who were painting York, this new New York?

Corn: The New New York was depicted by some of the artists that defined the new New York are today known as the Ashcan School artists John Sloane, Robert Hand, Right and Ritchin. These artists were the first to really begin to focus on what you might call the hustle, bustle or the rush hour factor in the new Manhattan. They began to give streets crowded with people.

Corn: They got off 5th Avenue, went to Sixth Avenue and showed the shops, the merchants, the buggies, the cacophony of the new modern street life. There were also some of the first artists to depict new types of New Yorkers. The working girl featured heavily in John Sloanes painting, for instance. These artists were among the first to quite literally depict the changing city and what we today know was the coming metropolis.

Interviewer: And what about you? Who were some of the others? What happened?

Interviewer: Artist that. OK, let's go.

Corn: The ash cancel, we can say work from what you might call a pedestrian's point of view. They stood on the pavement and they looked at the city and they they painted what they saw. Another group of art is coming along. The ones we're most concerned with. The modern artists began to realize that you had to really abstract from the sensations of this new city. You couldn't literally paint them in there in a descriptive sense, but you rather had abstract qualities from the city. So those qualities might be motion. They might be sound, they might be speed, they might be hard edged building forms and create a new and modern style based on these qualities.

Corn: So when John Marrin came along, he created a style of kind of heavy paint, bursting paint slashing lines that for him. And he said this very literally at one time, represented abstractly represented the new city on the on the run on the march. Now, I mean, we keep going a little bit. OK? Other other artists. Let's take Joseph. Stella, for instance, like John Marrin, also worked the city for its noise, its helter skelter quality, its bustling qualities. But he he had a kind of sense for the sublime in the New York. For him, New York was a beautiful Flatiron building, a sweeping Brooklyn Bridge, a burst of light on Broadway, electric light that kind of blinded you in its white fury. For him, New York was bust. The sublime sublime, meaning both something that was gorgeous and exhilarating and a little terrifying, a little horrific because it was not the way the world once was. And we have to remember that Joseph Stella came to this country as a young boy, 18 years old, an Italian immigrant from a small hill town. And he literally thought he was going to the moon when he came to New York. So vastly different. Was it phenomenologically from any experience that he had had before? So when he translated the new New York, he did it with a kind of gusto, a kind of futuristic style.

Corn: And he learned that futurism from his fellow futurist back in Italy, that was just really unprecedented in this country. So he had his colleagues. Max Weber did fantastic scenes of New York at night in New York during rush hour is the name of one of them.

Corn: Go into the protest, precisionist, stop. Cut, cut, cut. I can't.

Corn: Another group that began to depict the new New York, where a group of photographers that we call today the pictorial lists with a pictorial session. Let's bring in another group that depicted the new New York where the pictorials, photographers like Stieglitz and Edward Steichen. They saw New York through their lenses and they combined a love for atmosphere that the impressionists had introduced and a love for the new statuesque beauty of skyscrapers. They were amongst the first artists to make photographs of single, elegant skyscrapers, though most invariably before World War One, cloaked in fog or in snow or in dusk. Under what you might call Half-Light. Like Henry James, they really thought skyscrapers were more beautiful when they were not in harsh daylight, but were softened by Half-Light or Nocturnal Light. So we have a beautiful set of photographs by these two artists showing the flat iron building in particular. But other scenes, electric lights marching, new electric lights marching down the the avenues that were celebrating the new and the modern and centering that celebration in New York.

Interviewer: Was not a minute and a half. That's good enough.

Interviewer: Native American artists learn about modernism.

Corn: The center of modern art was Paris in the turn of the century and the.

Corn: We identify we identify the center of modern art as Paris at the turn of the century and deep into the 20th century. And many young artists like John Marrin, Arthur Dove, eventually Marston Hartley had felt they had to go to Paris if they were going to be in touch with the latest experimentations in cubism and expressionism in the so-called fogeys school, which they were reading about at home but had little access to. But there was one little hotbed of energy in New York before the war that also offered them Europe without having to go abroad.

Corn: And that was, of course, 291 gallery or the gallery was at that. Alfred Stieglitz ran called the little galleries of the photo session originally. But because it was it tuned in to ninety one Fifth Avenue. It got shortened to simply being called to 91 and at two 91. Stieglitz with particular help from Steichen and other runners that were in Paris, bringing him and telling him about the art that was being shown in Paris. Stieglitz arranged small but quite lively and completely unprecedented exhibitions for this country of the work of such great, says Picasso. This was a drawing show season on Rhodanthe. They had a drawing show of his as well, Brocke. They were the first space in which you might see African art installed as an inspiration for the modern distortion's that we find in Cubism and expressionism and even. And this had become a avant garde taste abroad. An exhibition of children's drawings, drawings that seemed to be without learning, that seemed to be instinctual and basic. And there was a lot of love for going back to kind of a kind of art that seemed to come from some kind of inner necessity rather than from the academy and from long hours in front of doll models. And we just simply had become a wasteland, it seemed, of of pedagogy. So to 91 was really a space that artists could come. They could learn from Stieglitz, who was very didactic, very freely giving of his ideas. They could learn what this art was all about and they could begin to run into one another. So are a certain kind of social circle developed around two 91 with Stieglitz and the art that he was showing at the center?

Interviewer: Who will some of the members and who called the first Stieglitz? Talk to us a little bit about that.

Corn: Ninety one last. 291 kept its doors open until 1917. And in that 10 year period, Stieglitz moved from showing his fellow pictorials, photographers to showing paintings and sculptures by both Americans and Europeans, the Americans that he showed. At that time included a Cuba's painter trained in Picasso's such as Max Weber and Walcha. Witts was another Cuba's painter who was taken into the fold, so to speak. Marin and Dov had their first person exhibitions at Stieglitz, says galleries and eventually at the very end of the period. Paul Strand was shown as a photog, young photographer, and Georgia O'Keeffe had her first exhibition of drawings. This group, when mingled with the kind of exhibitions that showed off European modernism, had a very eclectic, elastic, international character to it. And it was thought before the war that Stieglitz sort of stood for a not just a Parisian modernism, but a modernism that was transnational. That was really about what was going on in all the centers of Europe as well as in New York. Now, how did this how did this change when when did when did this after the war, Stieglitz continued to have exhibition spaces and he opened two more galleries before the end of his life. The intimate gallery and an American place. But the way in which he showed art and the kind of work that he showed changed dramatically. For me, I like to think of the first trans national circle, the eclectic elastic one that included draughtsmanship and painting and sculpture and photography. That was what I call the first circle. The second circle was far more refined and completely American in focus. And in fact, Stieglitz called the second circle my American painters and the set, or I should say my American artists, because it included amongst those six himself as a photographer. And Paul Strand is a photographer. And then the painters, George O'Keefe, Marston, Hartley, John Meryn and Arthur Dove. This became the second circle and in a very pointed way. And he used the word American constantly to describe what he was showing, became for him a kind of kick. They represented for him a campaign to give America modernism, to give it its own school of modernism that no longer had fluid attachments to Paris. The effort was to break away from Paris, not to travel, to stay in New York, rooted as they call it, and to try to create some kind of modernism that was not some simply a kind of second hand expression for that which was going on abroad. And this shift was notable from the transnational to the national, from the large electric group, from the large eclectic group to the very small, refined elite almost because after all, there were many, many artists working in New York at that time. But Stieglitz made his choice and he never much ventured out of it. Occasionally, he'd show another artist, Charles DeMuth. He showed two or three times. He occasionally showed another photographer at the end of his life, Ansel Adams, was shown. But basically, it was his six artists, the six great American artist, as he called them, that he continued to feature to sell their work and to really create a kind of campaign for them being America's first modernists.

Interviewer: What's your criticism of this? What was some of the criticism of the reaction to this, to Joyce?

Corn: This small, refined circle was often seen as a kind of. Today, we might say elite ism. It was seen as a kind of almost as this cult, a group that was separated out as if they knew the truth and had the way.

Corn: And the other artists didn't. So many people were critical of Stieglitz. They were also probably a little jealous because to be shown in Stieglitz is galleries was a great honor. And it meant that a certain very educated and sensitive public people with the taste, a taste for modern art would go see your exhibition. But in fact, he did not show very widely. And I can remember a remark from Julianna Force, who was the director of the Whitney Club, which was the predecessor for the Whitney Museum, was called the Whitney Studio Club. She says Stieglitz may have a six artist, but I have the other 3000 or something of that sort, meaning that he didn't he didn't really give patronage wide, wide spread, whereas she is a patron, was really responsible, she felt, for all the other modern artists in New York.

Interviewer: Who are some of the some of the other groups in the 20s who talked a little bit about some of the other like no machine ages, etc. at this time?

Corn: The group of modernists that we most likely.

Interviewer: Yes, sir. Yes.

Corn: There's another group in New York, the same time as the second Stieglitz circle was getting started, sometimes called the Precisionist Artists, or sometimes they're known as the artists around Walter and Louise Arenberg Berg. Walter and Louise Aarons Berg were patrons of the arts. They didn't happen to have a gallery, but they had a very spacious and well furnished apartment in New York where they hung their collection of modern art, which included such famous masterpieces as Marcel Duchamp's New Descending a Staircase. But it also had this collection had examples with Picasso and Broch and African art. It was a very it was a very. Again, a collection that was filled with rich French works of the period. It was a rich collection of French art.

Interviewer: Let's start up and then let's cut the. Just a little bit that the machine ages, you know, what they what they were all about.

Corn: One group that wasn't particularly embraced by Stieglitz. It was the group of artists that we sometimes call today the Precisionist. That was a word that was made up to describe them. I like to call them the machine a gists. These artists had a sense that modernity was not at all in blown up flowers such as O'Keefe painted or clouds such as Alfred Stieglitz was photographing, but rather modernity lay in New York City. And it lay very specifically in the new industrial and high rise structures in the new technologies that were proliferating at the time. So for them, what was exciting and what was important to define in their art was the skyscraper city, the factory town and the bridges, the even even such things as derricks or the big ocean liners that went in, in, in and out of the port of New York. This was their subject matter. They went to try to express this. And I'll go on in the next tape about their style retreat to.

Interviewer: RSVP here at home.

Interviewer: Please. This is no time for monochord interview in Santa Fe.

Interviewer: Actually, that Santa Fe location was the guest house with Wanda Kline. There's a buyers, a sheriff. Thank you. We've moved to.

Interviewer: Where it goes, Frances, is the exterior ambiance with Monday's interview rolling.

Interviewer: All right. Continuing in the library on Cameral eight.

Interviewer: And the wild sound from rule number two.

Interviewer: Tell us about some of the Roberto. Very at the machine.

Interviewer: The machine is.

Corn: Sometimes called the precisionist, I prefer the term machine ages. There was there were artists who felt that men. I'm just sorry. Okay, I'll start again. Okay. The so-called Precisionist, I prefer the term the machine agents were artists who wanted nothing to do with manmade nature.

Corn: Scuse me. Oh, now wait. The so-called Precisionist, the artist that I sometimes called the machine age artists, were artists who want nothing to do with the natural world. The God given world. But really, we're intensely interested in the modernity of their day, which they felt were was rooted in manmade structures. They were fascinated by Manhattan. They were fascinated by the elevated railroad, the skyscraper city, the bridges that went over the rivers. And and some of the harder edges of New York living at that particular time.

Corn: They also were interested in what might have been known in Stieglitz. His circle is sort of vulgar America, product America, brand name America. They were interested in billboards. They were interested in the flashy neon signs of Broadway. These were beautiful to them. They were interested in jazz as a new musical form. For them, it was the brand new and particularly brand new things that they could believe were American achievements. Perhaps Americans hadn't invented all of them. But they had, in fact, developed them with a kind of zeal and with kind of a a excellence that the forms had not taken elsewhere. So amongst those artists, we include people like Joseph, Stella and his bridge paintings, Brooklyn Bridge paintings or his paintings of Broadway. Charles DeMuth, his picture. I saw the figure five and gold is a magnificent precisionist view of a rushing fire engine going down a street of Manhattan, or so it seems.

Corn: Charles Sheeler and his magnificent pictures of sublime lands of the sublime skyscrapers, but also Charles Sheeler did a whole series of photographs and paintings based on the Ford Motor Plant. Factories were very important to the precision precisionist as well. And Sheila went out to Detroit on a commission to do a set of photographs of the plant. And from those photographs through subjects for his paintings. Then there was Gerald Murphy, an artist who only did 10 to 12 works that are extant today, who painted in Paris. But in a very machine age style and who painted such oddities as the new safety razor or the new safety match or the new fountain pen. These were all gadgets, trees that were fresh to the modern world, often of American origin, and often being marketed very heavily as American products abroad in this country, as artists similar to Stuart Davis would be someone like Charles in this country, you know, in this country. We have a young Stuart Davis who's just starting his career in the 1920s, and he, too, was very smitten with the urban environment, its posters, its wild and lively billboards. He loves the new jazz sounds that he hears. He feels sometimes, in fact, that his paintings or should be seen as the equivalent of jazz.

Corn: And he paints to brand name products. We have pictures of a mouthwash called Odle from him. We have packages of Lucky Strike cigarettes with their brand new styled packaging. At one point you bought tobacco and pouches. But by the 1920s, you could buy cigarettes, another brand new product out on the American market. And artists were fascinated by these new products and they were fascinated by their new fashionable designs. These were streamlined designs. They seemed to be, again, modern in flavor, not Victorian, having moved away from that kind of art nouveau embellishment of the turn of the century to a geometric, clean, sharp colored, precise design that seemed to be modern in feel and in style.

Interviewer: How did the Stiglitz and his failure to do this? How do they feel about it?

Corn: Stiglitz and his and his circle never really mixed.

Corn: Stieglitz and his circle never really integrated with the machine ages. There was a kind of suspicion between the suspicious ear. There was a kind of suspicious air between the two of them. Stieglitz sometimes thought old fashion and his devotion to nature and devotion to paint and his devotion to those painters that dedicated himself to the natural landscape. And the machine is palmist that all of us thought that every day.

Corn: Okay, I'm just, again, more stuff. So that's actually just a little cream.

Interviewer: A little bit about stimulus's reaction to the machine.

Corn: Stieglitz and the machine age artists didn't always see eye to eye. They didn't have an awful lot of common territory. The machine ages thought of Stieglitz as a little old fashion. And his point of view in his love for spiritual content, an emotional and expressive character to art. They felt that this belonged more to a 19th century sentiment than what they thought they were chasing after, which was a purely modern and 20th century one.

Corn: The Stieglitz for his. Stiglitz. Right. OK. Kirkcudbright. OK, quiet, please. Quiet, please.

Corn: From Stieglitz point of view, the machine agents were indulging in a love affair with base capitalist and materialist America. Those are the kinds of terms he might use.

Corn: He felt that this was not the America that ought to be promoted by artists, that this was the America of the businessmen. This was the America of the federal government. This was the America that said the business of America is, Coolidge once said, is business. He felt that these artists were being co-opted by sort of the evil forces of the materialist drive of the American culture.

Corn: So for him, these artists were childish in their indulgence in the new. But he thought that they were vulgar in their love for low life forms such as jazz or the Victrola or the brand name product. You know, it's hard to find a picture done by anyone in the Stieglitz circle that has a lot of electric lights in it in that sharp tacky. OK. In that sharp, very brilliant way that you find in Joseph, Stella, in some of the others, only one neon light comes to mind. And that's in a wonderful painting that Georgia O'Keeffe did, which has a little humor in it, because there's a neon sign in it which reads Alfred Stieglitz. She actually put Alfred Stieglitz name in lights. But that was an unusual touch for a Stieglitz artist. They did not feel that was an America that should be beautified.

Corn: That was there wasn't an America that the artist should celebrate.

Interviewer: And what about when when he started in New York? Yeah, a little bit about. About that. Yeah. As you probably know. Okay. You know, her beginning to paint New York. And it turned away from. Doing something more like the other.

Corn: In the middle of the 1920s, Georgia O'Keeffe makes a series of paintings that align her with the precisionist painters. She begins to paint New York skyscrapers and she does a series for about five years that today we think of is quite marvelous and very handsome additions to the machine age repertoire that we have from these these these years. But for her, it was always a start again. Mm hmm. Okay. When O'Keefe painted the skyscraper, it was almost always, though, made into a sublime object, a beautiful object very often seen at night with the lights twinkling in it, very often seen as if it were a majestic pyramids standing in the in the wilderness. Her landscapes of New York, much celebrated as they are today, have a more celebratory and a more ecstatic quality to them. I would call it a more expressionist quality to them than that of the hard core Press' Precisionist, such as Scheeler and DeMuth. Now, when O'Keefe made that turn to Sky's painting skyscrapers, there seemed to be other things in her mind. First of all, she wanted to be more modern than her circle was often said to be, and she seems to have been making a very conscious move away from flowers with. She seemed to be making a very conscious move away from her flower paintings, which she had become well known for towards a subject matter that was modern precisionist and a subject matter that men had taken on and not women. It turned out that Stieglitz even criticized her for moving in that direction. We have some evidence that he thought this was a silly move for her to make and a dangerous move for her to make, partially, probably because he had yet to see himself, that skyscrapers could be made into beautiful icons. His own photographs of the skyscrapers icon were to come some years later, I think much inspired by O'Keeffe's example. But also he was struggling with the whole notion of whether you could make city paintings that were as radiant and as uplifting to the spirit as photographs or paintings of other subjects, most notably the natural landscape.

Interviewer: Oh, clear.

Corn: When Georgia O'Keeffe started to paint the skyscraper, she even went so far as to write a letter to the critic Walter Frank and said, I want to be vulgar, so vulgar that people won't like my work anymore. That's was her own characterization of moving from the world of nature and her identification as a flower painter. Flower paintings were often seen as the kind of paintings women might make, although certainly not in her kind of bold, abstract and large scale style. But she did paint the skyscraper for about five years. And interestingly, when she came to New Mexico, she began to discover the forms of New Mexico, particularly, I think, of the cross, which she did a series of in the summer of nine teen 29.

Corn: And they are very much like her skyscraper paintings, single unitary structures with beautiful illumination around them. And at that point, she stops painting the skyscraper once she finds her New Mexico. It's as if she's found her America. And it's not the America of Manhattan that the Precisionist always said it represented, but rather it was the America of the Southwest.

Interviewer: All right. There was one slip there, but lovely. Could you tell us something about this whole question of the search for America? No idea. And in the 20s, what was it after? OK. Very interesting. Important story.

Corn: You know, after World War One, there was far less travel amongst the Stieglitz orders between New York and Paris, Stieglitz did not return to Paris. O'Keefe never went to Paris until very late in life after Stieglitz had died. All of the travelers before the war stopped going to Paris, only Master Hartley, who wandered in a way around Europe after the war. Maintain that trans, national or international traffic pattern, migration pattern between Paris and New York. And one of the reasons that travel dried up was partially this concern that if you kept traveling, if you kept moving between countries, that America would never be able to find its own voice. So there became a kind of value amongst these artists, a boast that if they stayed here, maybe they could sink roots and create an art form that would be closely identified with this country. Georgia O'Keeffe called it the great American thing. She said at one point in the 1920s, everybody was chasing after the great American thing. Someone wanted to read the great American poem. Somebody else wanted to write the great American novel. They even wanted to paint the great American picture. And how she said, with them jumping off and going to Europe with the great American thing ever going to happen. That notion of a great American thing seems to me a very powerful way to think about what artists, modern artists in the 1920s were doing, whether they were the Stieglitz circle or the Precisionist or a little bit later, the regionalist. They all had a similar goal, even though they approached it through very different means.

Interviewer: And what was their goal for the Stieglitz circle?

Corn: It was important that this country have a native school of painting. Stieglitz was completely devoted to that idea, and he wanted, I think, his own fame to be based on having given this country a group of artists that were as important to us as, say, the Cubist might be to the history of Paris as an art center for the Precisionist. The great American thing was really to fashion a modern painting based on those American forms the skyscraper, the bridges, the elevated, the subways, the hustle, bustle. Based on that kind of modernity, that would also be an American art, but an American art, because it did it in an American art, because it encompassed the stylistic features of the skyscraper and of the soaring bridges. It looked like an art that was engineered. It looked like an art that was clean, streamlined, hard edged. In other words, they felt that it had a kind of machine age style to it, not just the subject matter, but also the way in which the painter conveyed the information. Now, a little bit later on, really, the late twenties and into the nineteen thirties, another group of artists arrived in America. We don't closely associate them with the modern movement, but they used much of the same rhetoric and set many of the same goals as the artists we've been talking about. And these are the years that we know today as the regionalist artists like Thomas Hard-bitten, Grant Wood, John Stuart Currie, or sometimes they're called the American scientists. And we include in that definition. Charles Birchfield or Edward Hopper. These artists, too, spoke of creating an American painting, but they had very different ways of going about doing such work there. When we talk specifically about the regionalist, their idea was that art ought to be expressive of the people of America, not the forms, not their cities, not their nature, but rather the people and their ways, their folk ways, their ways of living their everyday life, the kind of songs they sang, the literature they read. And they had a very much more anthropological idea of what an American painting might look like. And that idea, they felt, could be best expressed not by painting fast urban America, which for them was a very small piece of this nation's being, but rather to move American art painting back into the regions. That's why they're called the regionalist. And there was a school of artists, particularly of the Midwest, that came to be most famously celebrated for their works, such as Grant Wood's American Gothic, that solid, staid letterbox mouth couple with a pitchfork between them that we all know so much from its misuse in our popular culture. These artists had a theory about American painting that was really while it sounded somewhat the same as what the modernists were doing in the 20s, that is, they were creating an art that was expressly American in character. They really didn't see at all eye to eye with the earlier modernists. In fact, they look back at what Stieglitz was doing in New York and the Precisionist, and they said that's still modern Allar Europe. That's still beholden in a very colonial way to European centers like Paris. They they said in turn, we're freeing themselves completely from modern is it was understood at that time they were only going to use some of the abstracts language of modern, but they were going to do it in a much more figurative style. And they were going to give praise, if you will, to the hinterland, to the America of Walltown, the America.

Interviewer: Sound rollout.

Corn: In the early 1930s, there was a great deal of animosity between the painters of New York as America and the regionalist painters claiming that the farmlands and the small villages of the Midwest was the real America. I wanted to give you a wonderful quote from O'Keeffe, who herself was very critical of her colleagues for never seeing America west of the Hudson and of her husband, in fact, who also didn't travel far west of the Hudson. And she often said and bragged about her own traveling across the country. But what she had in mind was not at war. What the regionalist painted facts she said about the American scene as they were ridiculous to them. The American scene was a dilapidated house with a broken down buckboard out front and a horse that looked like a skeleton. Well, of course, that is indeed a kind of painting scene that Thomas Heartbeat might have done. And she's relating that and also relating that soon thereafter, she herself began to paint skeletons, but not dead skeletons in front of dilapidated houses, but rather those marvelous first bone paintings of cow skulls and horses, horse skulls that she did coming out of the New Mexico experience of 1930.

Interviewer: All right. Yes. Yes.

Corn: Thomas Hart Benton was not one to sit still when criticized by the Stieglitz circle, whom he saw as simply beholden to the School of Paris. He found them imitators of abstract styles that were coming out of France.

Corn: So at the time when a volume of essays praising Alfred Stieglitz was published this in 1935 called America and Alfred Stieglitz, Benton wrote a review about this book. And let me give you his flavor of criticism he found. He says the Steger's volume, self aggrandizing and filled with hocus pocus talk. He wrote, quote.

Corn: This is hype about how a small group of New York cultists can arrogate to themselves and a simple photographer a position of supreme eminence in American culture, a culture from which by their commitments, they flee by going to Europe.

Corn: So you can see the kind of antagonism of these painters who each were claiming to be painting the great American thing.

Corn: But by the early 1930s, the the notion of America was fragmented. Many different groups of artists speaking to it. And you had a much more diverse, much more eclectic and I would say less focused set of painters such as the modernist represented in the 1920s in New York.

Interviewer: Yes, this could.

Corn: Stieglitz as character is very interesting to think about because. The louder the regionalist made their claims, bold claims for painting an American scene. The louder and more vociferous he became about his claims for having the true American art form and artists around him. His character is not easy to delineate, but he was a fascinating person in his fervor in his. Heavy ego in his desire to be remembered historically for a very specific job that he had done at the beginning of his career when he ran to 91. I think his purpose was pretty much a progressive era purpose. He wanted to make America better. He wanted to improve the American scene. He felt American culture was Erard if if it existed at all. He would like to call it Puritan or Berrin or non-existent.

Corn: Wasn't that he was just against the academic artists that had some notice in those days. But he really felt that American culture was thin and shallow. And he based that on some long history of material drive and puritan repression of the spirit and so on. So in the early days, it was just to bring newness to this culture and to try to plant seeds so that maybe America would have an artistic base after World War One. He got more interested in the drive to make an American School of art no longer so interested as he had been before in the Picasso's in the Bronx of the world. But much more interested in charting out a space that he would be given credit for having created. And in the 20s, we begin to see him controlling, if you will, his. Image and his identity beginning to realize that he wanted to go down in history as a memorable cultural figure. And he had devotees around him. We've talked about artists, but he had many writers who wrote very favorably about him and his artists and who often delivered his message to a broader public. They were art critics. They were philosophers. They were institutions. But they were people who could get his message out and across. And increasingly, these devotees, these people who were caught up in his evangelical fervor about giving America a school of modern artists, increasingly they began to write about him as a kind of messiah, a prophet, a figure who had led the people out of the wilderness and into a new religion, a religion of culture and art. And he fueled that image of himself. He didn't back down from it. In fact, he himself often talked in parables as if he were a sacred or Christ like figure. He liked to wear a cape around him and almost look as if he was a priest like figure. He did not go out. He did not suppress any of this good press he was getting from the critics around him. And increasingly a kind of mythological stick that's a bigger than life Stieglitz began to develop. I think one that's still very alive in our our culture today, though, from many points of view. He was autocratic. He was highly selective. He was not very democratic. And what could be more an American trait than being a Democrat? And giving to all rather than to just a few. And so he had a he had a group that was constantly trying to sort of knock down this bigger than life image of Stieglitz. But it never, never really took. And perhaps most interestingly, of all the people that created early 20th century modern culture in this country, he so had his mind or memory on how he would be remembered on history, how we would be written in the history books, that he made sure that every stick of correspondence that he had ever written or had ever received from groups or an artist in his groups, I should say, at every one of those papers was saved and filed away. And eventually they were given to the Meineke Library. That's the special manuscripts division of the Yale University Library. As as a group of archives that are so complete that we can tell the story of Stieglitz with a kind of my new show, a kind of thoroughness that we don't have for many other artists. He was very careful about manufacturing, if you will, a historical picture or at least collecting all the things that would give the historical picture that he hoped would be written about him.

Interviewer: Good. Tell us a little bit about Stieglitz as a rebel and how different period Stieglitz like to present himself.

Corn: Okay.

Corn: Steak is like I always think of himself as a radical or rebel. And in the early years, he truly was, I think, a kind of loud, noisy, haranguing, rebellious force, very critical of the society that was around him. And he really always maintained that notion that he was fighting for the right cause against a kind of dolen and shallow public that couldn't really understand what he was saying. So to the very end of his life, he died in 1946. He was still running galleries. He was still showing his artists. He was still making sure that there was criticism written about them. He was making sure they were being sold to the best museums in the country. He was publicizing his orders right to the end, always seeing that within his soul was a rebel that refused to die.

Interviewer: That's right. That's nice. Yes, yes, yes. Cut.

Interviewer: Could you tell us about some of the other groups or what are the groups you think really important besides. At this period before now?

Corn: Before the world? Before the war, there was another focal point, a gathering space. Okay. Okay. Yes. Just before World War One, there was another gathering space for modern artists, not always the same artists that were at the Steiglitz circle. In fact, generally, it was a different group. And this was the group that came around. Louise and Walter Arenberg, Louison, Walter Arenberg were collectors of modern art. Stieglitz had his gallery there. Arun's burgs had their in their apartment, which was filled with wonderful paintings, most of them from Parisians, some of them from Americans that would expose younger American artists to what was happening abroad. This was a very exciting experience for many artists. And the Arun's burg's fell into the habit of having open house, a salon, we would call it once a week when artists would come and gather to talk, to eat, to drink, to laugh and discuss art together. And this group centered very much on Duchamp, who was a very close friend to the Ernsberger. And the Ernsberger actually helped bring Duchamp from France to New York when he made his first visit in nineteen fifteen. And also had hangers on from Europe. Let me start this group as it had as its focus. Marcel Duchamp, who had first come to this country in 1915 and had become a very close friend of the Arun's burgs, and they collected his work. They believed in his mission. They believed in his irony, his sense of humor, of the kind of skeptical. Frame of mind that Duchamp brought to the art world at that time. And Duchamp brought under his wing the Precisionist artists, artists like Scheeler, DeMuth, Joseph, Stella. And they became the regulars at the Arenberg Open House or Salon, which they've hosted once a week sometimes. But Kaavya would drop in because he was in town from Paris. This is, of course, or Albert Golez, the Cubist who was in America at sometime would attend one of these meetings. But these were the meetings is not quite the right word. These were social occasions, exchanges, a way of supporting and buoying each other up. But having long extended conversations about art, getting drunk together very often has a lot of stories about the free flowing booze at the Ernsberger Birds. They were very generous and they had resources. They were they were people of means. And they really did give the artists a good time and made it possible for New York, which was so barren of cafe life, let's say, which was one of the ways in which modernism spread. In Paris, we didn't have an equivalent cafe society or cafe culture that Paris did. So we counted on place, on people or the Americans counted on spaces like Stieglitz as gallery or Arun's burgs apartment for bringing artists together and giving some coherence to the modern art scene in New York at the time.

Interviewer: How about done at that time? Yeah.

Corn: Mable Dodge. Was also a sell on year. Her first cell phone was in Florence, where she ran a open session for artists and for visiting Americans and also for politicians and for anarchists and radicals and rebels of almost every stripe. She ran a salon that people often compared to what, George?

Interviewer: Start again with me, Europe. I'd like to have people in.

Corn: She doesn't do very well in northern York, but as I mentioned her in New York because her real big contribution is when she's out here. Yeah, I mean, she's there. Well, Africa is on Fifth Avenue, isn't it? Fifth and twenty two. Do it then. Yeah, I'll do it. She has more anarchist than she does artists. Well I like that. Well I'm happy to talk about it.

Wanda Corn
Interview Date:
2000-02-21
Runtime:
1:28:41
Keywords:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-xk84j0bt64, cpb-aacip-504-mp4vh5d57x, cpb-aacip-504-057cr5nt1x
MLA CITATIONS:
"Wanda Corn, Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 21 Feb. 2000, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/436
APA CITATIONS:
(2000, February 21). Wanda Corn, Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/436
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Wanda Corn, Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). February 21, 2000. Accessed January 22, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/436

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