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Oral history interview with Peter Agostini

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Catalog Data

Agostini, Peter  Search this
Roberts, Colette, 1910-  Search this
Columbia University -- Faculty  Search this
United States. Works Progress Administration  Search this
Bontecou, Lee, 1931-  Search this
Chamberlain, John, 1927-2011  Search this
Chryssa, 1933-2013  Search this
Cornell, Joseph  Search this
Cézanne, Paul, 1839-1906  Search this
De Chirico, Giorgio, 1888-  Search this
De Kooning, Willem, 1904-1997  Search this
Demuth, Charles, 1883-1935  Search this
Di Suvero, Mark, 1933-  Search this
Dove, Arthur Garfield, 1880-1946  Search this
Dubuffet, Jean, 1901-1985  Search this
Duchamp, Marcel, 1887-1968  Search this
Ferber, Herbert, 1906-1991  Search this
Flannagan, John Bernard, 1895?-1942  Search this
Giacometti, Alberto, 1901-1966  Search this
Greenberg, Clement, 1909-1994  Search this
Hague, Raoul, 1905-1993  Search this
Hare, David, 1917-1992  Search this
Hartley, Marsden, 1877-1943  Search this
Hopper, Edward, 1882-1967  Search this
Judd, Donald, 1928-1994  Search this
Kaprow, Allan  Search this
Kienholz, Edward, 1927-  Search this
Kline, Franz, 1910-1962  Search this
Kohn, Gabriel, 1910-1975  Search this
Kolbe, Georg, 1877-1947  Search this
La Tour, Onya, 1896-1976  Search this
Lachaise, Gaston, 1882-1935  Search this
Lassaw, Ibram, 1913-2003  Search this
Lippold, Richard, 1915-2002  Search this
Lipton, Seymour, 1903-1986  Search this
Macdonald-Wright, Stanton, 1890-1973  Search this
Maillol, Aristide, 1861-1944  Search this
Manship, Paul, 1885-1966  Search this
Marca-Relli, Conrad, 1913-2000  Search this
Marin, John, 1870-1953  Search this
Marisol, 1930-2016  Search this
Matisse, Henri, 1869-1954  Search this
Melville, Herman, 1819-1891  Search this
Mondrian, Piet, 1872-1944  Search this
Morris, Robert, 1931-2018  Search this
Nakian, Reuben, 1897-1986  Search this
Noguchi, Isamu, 1904-1988  Search this
O'Keeffe, Georgia , 1887-1986  Search this
Oldenburg, Claes, 1929-  Search this
Poe, Edgar Allan, 1809-1849  Search this
Pollock, Jackson, 1912-1956  Search this
Pompon, François, 1855-1933  Search this
Reinhardt, Ad, 1913-1967  Search this
Rivera, Diego, 1886-1957  Search this
Roszak, Theodore, 1907-1981  Search this
Rothko, Mark, 1903-1970  Search this
Samaras, Lucas, 1936-  Search this
Scarpitta, Salvatore, 1919-2007  Search this
Segal, George, 1924-2000  Search this
Sheeler, Charles, 1883-1965  Search this
Smith, David, 1906-1965  Search this
Smith, Tony, 1912-1980  Search this
Spaventa, George, 1918-  Search this
Stankiewicz, Richard, 1922-1983  Search this
Sugarman, George, 1912-1999  Search this
Tobey, Mark  Search this
Whitman, Walt, 1819-1892  Search this
Zorach, William, 1887-1966  Search this
99 Pages (Transcript)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Sound recordings
Scope and Contents:
An interview of Peter Agostini conducted in 1968, by Colette Roberts, for the Archives of American Art at 151 Avenue B, New York, New York.
Mr. Agostini speaks of his childhood spent living throughout the five boroughs of New York; his interactions with clients of his father's acting employment agency; his early education in Catholic school and the creative freedom allotted by the nuns; his first feelings of isolation as an artist at the age of seven; the development of a sense of communication as the result of the loss of his mother at the age of three and time spent at a school for orphans; his early realization and vision of artistic destiny; his religious interests which lead to mysticism in his earlier work; his time spent working freely in the DaVinci Studio with Spaventa; the discovery by Hess of his works in Gallerie Grimaud; his attainment of the Longview Grant; his working experience throughout the Depression as part of the WPA casting plaster mannequins while working indirectly with Pollack as well as Marca Relli; his subsequent move to designing department store windows (use of Mondrian-like forms and lines); his feelings of his position as an observer; the importance of communication through art (communication without words); his rejection of the Abstract Expressionist group and choice of independence; the influence of the sculpture of Kolbe and Bache in the thirties; Clement Greenberg's distaste for his work; his feelings about the relative failure to sell his work due its unusual edginess and mystery; his role in the introduction of the work of contemporary European artists (Chausserian, Gauthier, Modrian) to the American group; his description of his own work as "traditionless"; his feelings of self-importance as one of the most original sculptors in the art world; his influence on the younger generation, particularly Marisol; the enslavement to originality that the younger generation faces; his attitudes towards American Art forms and their lack of rebellious spirit; the virtues of the American writers, such as Poe, Whitman, and Melville as American "knapsack" writers; his personal technique which places an emphasis on the "skin" or volume of something; his attempt to create quiet art, or art that merely indicates features; his frustration with teaching and the problems of regurgitated knowledge; the role of Meyer Shapiro in his teaching career at Columbia; the formation of the Club and its similarity to the Cubist's café scene; his opinions on the relationship of sex and sensuality in American art; his personal struggles, including the loss of his second wife and two of his brothers, in addition to the estrangement of his only daughter by his first wife; his feelings on the role of psycho analysis and personal history in a work of art; his present works which feature the "swell." For the majority of the second half of the interview Ms. Roberts asks Mr. Agostini to express his opinions on the work of: Kline; DeKooning; Duchamp; Oldenburg; La Tour; DeChirico; Maillol; Pompon; Rothko; Chardin; Cezanne; Giacometti; Reinhardt; Chryssa; Tony Smith; Segal; Lachaise; Zorach; Manship; Flannagan; Kelly; Lassaw; David Smith; Hare; Lipton; Ferber; Lippold; Roszak; Nakian; Noguchi; Hague; Kohn; di Suvero; Chamberlain; Kaprow; Sugarman; Stankiewicz; Bontecou; Scarpitta; Cornell; Keinholz; Rivera; Judd; Robert Morris; O'Keeffe; Samaras; Mark Tobey; Marin; Pollock; Hartley; Dove; Macdonald-Wright; Demuth; Sheeler; Hopper; Mirot; Matisse; DuBuffet.
Biographical / Historical:
Peter Agostini (1913-1993) was a sculptor from New York, New York.
Originally recorded on 3 sound tape reels. Reformatted in 2010 as 28 digital wav files. Duration is 10 hrs., 37 min.
Transferred from 4 3" reels.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art 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 administrators.
Sculptors -- New York (State) -- New York -- Interviews  Search this
Abstract expressionism  Search this
Sculptors -- New York (State) -- New York -- Interviews  Search this
Sound recordings
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art