Ron Gorchov paints on convex/concave saddle-shape canvases with recurring pairs of symmetrical, oar-like images. These unique frames have become the basis for a wide range of experimentation through the use of color, surface, form, and shape.
“It wasn’t until 1970, when the first real photographs of the planet Earth astounded everyone, … [that] you could say objectively that never before was an object seen that was so beautiful. Then, I thought, ‘That’s what we have to compete with’,” Gorchov says in this interview with Kate Horsfield.
Roger Brown’s quirky, stylized paintings were influenced by such disparate sources as comic strips, hypnotic wallpaper patterns, medieval panel paintings, and early works of Magritte. His work is epitomized by a series of claustrophobic urban scenes with their drop-curtain-like gray clouds and cardboard-box apartment buildings, suggesting an amalgamation of boyish enthusiasm for model making and adult despondency.
Robert Snyder’s accomplished films on the lives of artists have received wide recognition, from Gene Youngblood’s praise (“your work is important to humanity for reasons which transcend the medium”) to a 1951 Oscar for his first of two documentary films on Michelangelo. Other biographical subjects include Pablo Casals, Buckminster Fuller, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Claudio Arrau, and Will and Ariel Durant. Snyder’s second film on Michelangelo, long in production, takes its narration from the diaries and writings of the artist himself.
Robert Ryman first moved to New York City with the intention of becoming a jazz musician. After working for several years as a gallery attendant at the Museum of Modern Art and a brief assignment in the Art Division of the Public Library comprised his “art education.” From the outset, Ryman was not interested in realistic representation. In his first paintings and collages from the mid-1950s, he experimented with material, color and brushwork, eventually reducing the painting to its barest elements. Eventually, he settled on a square with white paint as the basis of his investigation.
Robert Irwin’s early art followed in the Abstract Expressionist tradition until he shifted his focus onto installation projects that play upon site-specific uses of light. Since the 1980s, he has created large-scale public space designs that use natural light, plants, and garden architecture; his monumental garden at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, opened in 1997, ranks as perhaps his most famous public project to date. In this interview, he discusses his work as a painter and uses of light in an art historical context.
Robert Heineken uses technically sophisticated photographic methods to mingle erotic images with visuals from TV and advertising. In this interview, Heineken is framed in front of playback monitors, and the camera alternately zooms in on Heineken and his video image. He discusses his influences, education, and his interest in the audiences’ ability to respond to images without necessarily knowing how they are created.
A historical interview originally recorded in 1976 and re-edited in 2007.
Robert Colescott paints expressive parodies of Western masterpieces. His work—which has transformed Leutze’s George Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851) into George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware (1975), Van Gogh’s The Potato Eaters (1885) into Eat Dem Taters, (1975), and Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) as Les Demoiselles d’Alabama (1985)—deals with stereotypes and the role of blacks in American culture.
Contemporary American composer and performance artist Robert Ashley has been a pioneer in the development of large-scale, collaborative performance works and new uses of language in operas and recordings. His landmark project, Perfect Lives, was opera produced for television in seven half-hour episodes. As explored in this interview with Peter Gena, his interests include an exploration of visual media such as video to express musical ideas.
A historical interview originally recorded in 1988.
Richard Prince appropriates images from commercial advertising and travelogues for his photographs. Choosing these images for their melodramatic, super-real power, he then isolates their stylistic realism to accentuate its rhetoric. In this portrait/performance, Prince narrates experiences that demonstrate his extreme sensitivity to appearances and context. He relates the event of buying his first car as the imprinting of a certain aesthetic impression.
Richard Schechner is Professor of Performance Studies at New York University, author of numerous books including Performance Theory (1988) and The Future of Ritual (1993), and editor of The Drama Review. This interview with Nancy Forest Brown was conducted during an event at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. “Performers are very shrewd... The closer you get to them, the more you realize that as soon as you have a spectator situation artifice is involved.
Ree Morton (1936-77) was an American artist working with large-scale mixed media installations. Her mature career was brief—from 1971 to 1977. However, her output and growth during these years was unusually large. This was the first of two interviews Kate Horsfield and Lyn Blumenthal conducted with Morton; the second was for the journal Heresies in 1977. “You can see how I collect just junk—over there. I have things around, and then as I work, it’s almost a kind of drawing process.
Rackstraw Downes’s “observation” paintings, executed on-site at ponds, intersections, and baseball parks, began as a mischievous response to the dogma of style and modernist criticism. “There was a tremendous intellectual back-up, essentially against a lot of the figurative painting being done in the ’60s,” Downes says in this interview with Robert Storr. “If I show my slides in an art school I’ll get, 'Your paintings are very nice but how can you go backwards from Cézanne?’”
A historical interview originally recorded in 1980 and re-edited in 2004.
Rachel Rosenthal is a performance artist and director of the Rachel Rosenthal Company. Her ensemble produces text, voice, and movement-based work rooted in the spectacular of theater. Her work addresses subversion of the natural order through vocal experimentation and by varying the performer’s relation to objects in space. In this performative interview, Matthew Goulish plays word association with Rosenthal, offering 39 names, concepts, and phrases for Rosenthal to address.
A historical interview originally recorded in 1999.
Ping Chong is choreographer, theater director, and installation artist. Considered a pioneer of avant-garde performance, Chong’s work incorporates many stylistic innovations including projections, sound scores, and ritualized movement.