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Oct. 12, 1955
We just got home from our trip on Sunday (9th) and didn’t get our mail until the next day. I note
that one of your letters is dated Sept. 30, so it probably seems a long time in getting an answer.
We had a most pleasant trip and came home refreshed and with renewed vigor and interest –
We just got the proofs of the photographs today. Both “formal” & informal turned out well, we think, and as soon as we decide which ones to have printed and can get them printed, I’ll send them off to you. But maybe the Hollyman ones will be better – anyway you ought to have enough mug-shots to choose from!
As to publicity – yes, you ought to give some to the COURIER-EXPRESS, the morning paper (Buffalo).
– There is some rivalry between it and the Evening News – but I’ve always tried to be impartial, even though the News perhaps is more widely distributed. You might also, for sentiments sake, release to the
SALEM (OHIO) NEWS, and the Youngstown Vindicator. That’s all I can think of.
I sent the “Woodpecker” to you by air-express -- for speed – you ought to have had it yesterday. But should you decide to send it back, it is not necessary to go by air – mail any express is o.k. as there will be no hurry on the return. Your idea of keeping the picture there, in the event you want to use it, is excellent, and in that case, I’ll send the frame later on.
I received the proof of “Church Bells Ringing” – and think it is very good of the picture in its present
state – but it pointed up for me anew the distressing fact that a portion of this picture has deteriorated --
namely the interior of the tower, the bell motif – Did I write you of this before? – I meant to, but perhaps I didn’t – In the fall of 1953, when I saw it at the museum in Cleveland, I was shocked to see that the deep mauve in the bell motif had almost disappeared leaving only the intense blue and the faded grayish lavender – To me, this picture simply cries for that rich mauve. (of course I should not have used mauve, but I loved the color and was ignorant of its fugitive qualities). I was with Mr. Francis at the time and asked him if he could send it to me so that I could restore it to its original purpose with a permanent substitute for mauve (cobalt, or ultramarine with madder or alizarin) – He said he could.
Well, I never heard anything more about it until this spring, when at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Albright Gallery, I encountered Mr. Milliken at one of the receptions. Without any warning he launched an attack at me – “You’re not going to change the Church Bells Ringing – I won’t permit it – (I confess I was dumbfounded at the abruptness and savagery of his approach) but managed to reply “I don’t want to change it, I simply want to restore it to its original state. – I used an impermanent color, and it has practically disappeared, so why don’t you want it restored?” – “I don’t care; it’s one of your most important works, and I know if you get it, you’ll change it – add to it and ruin it.” (The suggestion was not only silly but insulting as well, as if I would do anything to it, except restore the missing portion)
Well, it went on like that, each of us getting more & more hot, but pretending to be kidding; and at the last, as I went down stairs to get my hat, he shouted at me – “You’re not going to change that picture” -- I went away wondering at what was happening to him.
What do you make of anything like that? Would you folks at the Whitney Museum, refuse such a reasonable request from an artist? If it were an oil and marred or punctured in some way, there would be no question about repairing it –
[drawing] portion that has faded -
[drawing] See what happens when the faded portion is strengthened.
I simply can’t understand such an attitude from a man in such a responsible position as he holds. I have thought of legal action, but didn’t know how far I’d get; and I thought of getting the A.E. to get into the quarrel, but then I wondered if I might not be acting almost as ridiculous as he.
Honesty compels me to admit that the picture is far from being “ruined” by the defection of the one
color – and I’ll go so far as to say, that probably no one, not knowing the facts, would miss it –But that’s not the point – I know it – I’m the artist, and to me, the mauve just ought to be there – and I’ll never be happy about it.
I’m sorry to bother you at such length about this, but as the assembler of the show, and as the author of the book about my work, you should know what has happened to one of my best known works, and why I can’t remedy it –
Did I suggest recently that our correspondence was at an end? – What do you think! After you read this you’ll wish it was –
Anyway, all the best to you –