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
121 Photographic prints (b&w ; color, 8 x 10 in. 11 x 14 in.)
Scope and Contents:
Photographs of Southern California artists, taken by Arnold Chanin.
Artists include Chuck Arnold, Florence Arnold, Robert Bassler, Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Karl Benjamin, Anthony Berlant, Natalie Bieser, Irving Block, Nicholas Brigante, Hans Burkhardt, Aldo Casanova, George Chann, William Crutchfield, George Csengeri, Dan Cytron, Yvonne De Miranda, Edie Danieli, Fidel Danieli, Richard Diebenkorn, Lucienne Bloch Dimitrov and Steve Dimitrov, David Elder, Linda Elder, Fred Eversley, Fritz Faiss, Claire Falkenstein, Keith Finch, Max Finkelstein, Tom Fricano, Hal Gebhardt, Peter Gebhardt, George Gibson, Robert Gino, Claire Hanzakos, Mike Hanzakos, Donald Hartman, Sandra Jackman, Ynez Johnston, Kaija Keel, Peter Krasnow, Edmond Kohn, Gabriel Kohn, Don Lagerberg, Linda Levi, Stanton Macdonald-Wright, Brian Mains, La Nelle Mason, John McLaughlin, Vasa Velizar Mihich, Arnold Mesches, Judith Miller, Lee Mullican, Gwynn Murrill, Peter Plagens, Bruce Richards, Betye Saar, Arnold Schifrin, Jilda Schwartz, Harry Steinberg, James Strombotne, Jan Stussy, Maxine Kim Stussy, J. B. Thompson, Joyce Trieman, William Tunberg, James Valerio, Alex Vilumsons, Gordon Wagner, Emerson Woelffer, and Janet Wullner-Faiss. Also included is one photograph of Kaija Keel, Claire Hanzakos and Jilda Schwartz and an exhibition brochure, undated, from the Arts Options Foundation "War & Peace & Clay", regarding sculpture by Keel, Hanzakos and Schwartz.
Photographs of Diebenkorn and Hans Burkhardt, one 11 x 14 in. collage print of Diebenkorn. Three of the photographs and the collage are duplicates of filmed photographs on reel 1818. Also included is one photograph of Chanin by Steve Cohen.
Biographical / Historical:
Arnold Chanin (1934-) is a photographer from Encino, Calif.
Donated 1975-2007 by Arnold Chanin. Additions are expected.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.