William Baziotes



Not on display

William Baziotes 1912–1963
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1219 × 1524 mm
Presented by Mr and Mrs Leonard S. Field 1972

Catalogue entry

William Baziotes 1912-1963

T01693 Mammoth 1957

Inscribed 'Baziotes' b.r. and '"MAMMOTH" | Wm. Baziotes 1957' on back of canvas
Oil on canvas, 48 x 60 (122 x 152.5)
Presented by Mr and Mrs Leonard S. Field through the American Federation of Arts 1972
Prov: With Kootz Gallery, New York (purchased from the artist); with Arthur Tooth and Sons, London, 1958; Mr and Mrs Leonard S. Field, New York, 1972
Exh: Baziotes, Kootz Gallery, New York, February-March 1958 (3); Modern American Painting, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, April-May 1961 (2, repr.); USIS Gallery, American Embassy, London, May-June 1961 (3, repr.); William Baziotes Memorial Exhibition, Guggenheim Museum, New York, February-March 1965 (33, repr.)
Repr: Art News, LVII, March 1958, p.13

Mrs Ethel Baziotes, the artist's widow, has written of this work (letter of 7 February 1973): 'There was a drawing but it has been destroyed - my husband always had the fear of imitating himself. Anything leading to past efforts, was done away with. Da Vinci wrote there are two meanings to a painting - the physical dimensions which are easy to understand and the second - "the movement of the soul" which is difficult. I was very close to my husband's work: I shall attempt to describe its inner meaning. To me, Mammoth is an imaginary creation of two prehistoric forms that seem to be floating. There appears to be a silent, but very real communication between the two forms. And running horizontally, is this delicate calligraphy, which to me, always, is the line of extra sensory perception - and that animals and plants relied on it more than humans. That the most original and daring of men used this apparatus freely and unconsciously. And this was the tragedy of modern Man - the machine was estranging him from nature - that the "drama of the nervous system" was being greatly reduced. As for the manner of the brush strokes - he once wrote, he always wanted the surface of his paintings to resemble the flesh of a woman. On the lighter side - there are these two disparate forms, somewhat humorous, seeming to be greatly attracted to one another. The smaller form is basking in the protectiveness of the larger and more bulbous form. And there is an air of mutual trust: they are so comfortable being together. If ever there was any humour in a situation, he was sure to find it. My husband always was more interested in psychic values over plastic values; although he was always pleased when plastic values were present.'

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.37-8, reproduced p.37

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