Reading An Interview With Roy Lichtenstein and Leo Castelli

I’m continuing to read artist interviews from Inside New York’s Art World by Barbaralee Diamonstein. This week, Roy Lichtenstein and art dealer Leo Castelli.

To catch you up, I found this book at a neighborhood “little free library” and have been working my way through the artist interviews. The book is a bit dated (1979) but the author Barbaralee Diamonstein asks the best questions.

Below are some of my favorites statements from her interview with Leo Castelli and Roy Lichtenstein:

  • Leo Castelli on new art trends, “So one can never foresee what’s going to happen. One might almost say that what happens occasionally is a mutation really, because artists tend to go on exploring and basing their explorations on the previous artists, and then perhaps they see a new area there that they can explore. And the more intelligent ones, the geniuses, do find a way out of the dilemma of going on and repeating what their predecessors have been doing.”

  • Leo Castelli on galleries vs museums, “we (galleries) are infinitely more flexible than museums can be. They have to make plans way ahead of time. They cannot show anything really important that appears on the scene. So we (galleries) are actually the pioneers.” “I don’t speak of commercial galleries, but the galleries who take care of the avant-garde…I’d say 95 percent of our activity is public service activity.”

  • Leo Castelli on what he does as an art dealer for his artists, “Well, one thing is, first complete and total belief in the artist. If you don’t believe in him you can’t build him up.”

  • Roy Lichtenstein, “I think shape is more important than color. It’s the fundamental thing about art…a color has to end somewhere.”

  • Leo Castelli on artistic practice, “ Roy has been going on and on from one thing to the other, working constantly. Jasper Johns produces a group of works, and then for years sometimes he doesn’t do much except for his prints and drawings…He has adopted the attitude that unless he feels he can do something that’s new, he just prefers not to do anything.”

  • Roy Lichtenstein on what we today call art flipping. “I’m not terribly enthusiastic about it.” “I think these things are too complicated to control.” “There are lots of things I’d like to see done for artists…” “I think some sort of fund for older artists and funds for the exhibiting of work by younger artists. One or the other. Or both.”