Oral history interview with George McNeil, 1965 June 3
McNeil, George, 1908-1995
Seckler, Dorothy Gees, 1910-1994
De Kooning, Willem
Hopper, Jo N. (Josephine Nivison),
Pereira, I. Rice (Irene Rice)
American Abstract Artists
Art Students League (New York, N.Y.)
Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.)
Pratt Institute.Art School
United States.Work Projects Administration
Place of publication, production, or execution:
Transcript: 18 p.
Originally recorded on 2 sound tapes. Reformated in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 49 min.
Access Note / Rights:
Transcript is available on the Archives of American Art's website.
An interview of George McNeil conducted by Dorothy Seckler for the Archives of American Art. McNeil speaks of his childhood and his family; becoming interested in art during high school; attending Pratt Institute, and not being satisfied there; deciding to drop out of Pratt after attending a lecture from Vaclav Vytlacil; going to the Metropolitan Museum every day drawing and analyzing paintings; meeting Arshile Gorky while at the Metropolitan Museum; attending the Art Students League; studying with Hans Hofmann; the start of the American Abstract Artists; his involvement in the WPA's mural project; attending Teachers College at Columbia before joining the Navy; re-entering the New York art scene during the forties and liking it very much; meeting and being influenced by Pollock; his views on the state of painting; how his work has evolved; the various stages in the way a painting developed for him; how The Club and the Eighth Street Club has influenced him; the ideas discussed at The Club, and how he feels surrealism was not a big influence on them; Jackson Pollock's influence on abstract expressionism; artists he admires or has admired; and his thoughts on the contemporary art scene. He recalls Vaclav Vytlacil, Arshile Gorky, Jan Matulka, David Smith, Dorothy Dehner, Edgar Levy, Leo Manso, Burgoyne Diller, Irene Rice Pereira, Hans Hofmann, Jo Hopper, Giorgio Cavallon, Linda Lindaberg (Cavallon), Mercedes Kahls, George Byron Brown, Albert Swinden, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollack, Franz Kline, Jack Tworkov, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, and many others.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with George McNeil, 1965 June 3. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
George McNeil (1908-1995) was a painter and a printmaker in Brooklyn, N.Y.
This interview is part of the Archives' Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001