Scope and Contents
An interview of George McNeil conducted 1968 Jan. 9-May 21, by Irving Sandler, for the Archives of American Art. McNeil speaks of why he became interested in art; his early influences; becoming interested in modern art after attending lectures by Vaclav Vytlacil; meeting Arshile Gorky; the leading figures in modern art during the 1930s; his interest in Cézanne; studying with Jan Matulka and Hans Hofmann; his experiences with the WPA; the modern artists within the WPA; the American Abstract Artists (A.A.A.); a group of painters oriented to Paris called The Ten; how there was an anti-surrealism attitude, and a surrealist would not have been permitted in A.A.A; what the A.A.A. constituted as abstract art; a grouping within the A.A.A. called the Concretionists; his memories of Léger; how he assesses the period of the 1930s; the importance of Cubism; what he thinks caused the decline of A.A.A.; how he assesses the period of the 1940s; his stance on form and the plastic values in art; his thoughts on various artists; the importance of The Club; the antipathy to the School of Paris after the war; how Impressionism was considered in the 40s and 50s; slides of his paintings from 1937 to 1962, and shows how he developed as an artist; the problems of abstract expressionism; organic and geometric form; the schisms in different art groups due to politics; his teaching techniques; why he feels modern painting declined after 1912; the quality of A.A.A. works; stretching his canvases, and the sizes he uses; his recent works, and his approaches to painting. He recalls Vaclav Vytlacil, Hans Hofmann; Arshile Gorky, John Graham, Jan Matulka, John Marin, Wassily Kandinsky, Mercedes Carles Matter, Albert Swinden, Fernand Léger, Stuart Davis, Burgoyne Diller, David Smith, Edgar Levy, Leo Manso, Irene Rice Pereira, Willem de Kooning, Ilya Bolotowsky, Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, Joan Miró, Robert Motherwell, George L.K. Morris, Albert Gallatin, Charles Shaw, John Ferrin, Ralph Rosenborg, Hananiah Harari, Agnes Lyall, Jean Helion, and many others.