Henry Geldzahler (Part II)
….I’m worried that in the future, parts might fall off and some of the heads underneath might shoe through.
They might not fall of, but paint changes in time. Many Renaissance paintings have what’s called “pentimenti”, changes where the “ghost” head underneath which was five degrees of will appear.
I have a painting where somebody’s holding a chicken, and underneath the chicken is somebody’s head.
It won’t fall off exactly like that. The whole chicken won’t fall off..
Do you do self-portraits?
Every once in a while, yeah.
Do you think your family is proud of you?
Yeah I guess so
What did you think of James Van der Zee?
Oh, he was really great. He has a great sense of the “good picture”.
What kind of camera did he use/
Old box camera that had a little black lens cap on the front that he’d take off to make the exposure, then put back on.
Do you find your personal life, your relationship with various women get into the work?
Occasionally, when I get mad at a woman, I’ll do some great, awful paintings about her…
Which she knows is about her, or is it a private language?
Sometimes. Sometimes not.
Do you point it out?
No, sometimes I don’t even know it.
Do friends point it out to you, or does it just become obvious as time goes on?
It’s just those little mental icons of the time…
There was a woman I went out with… I dindn’t like her after awhile of course, so I started paintings her as Olympia. At the very end I cut the mind off.
Who’s harder toget along with, girlfriends or dealers?
They’re about the same, actually.
Did you have a good time when you went to Italy, for the first show, in Modena?
It was fun because it was the first time, but financially it was pretty stupid.
It was a rip-off?
Yeah, he really got a bulk deal.
Has he re-sold them? Are they out in the world?
Do you ever see them? Would you recognize them?
I recognize them. I’m a little shocked when I see them.
Are there Italian words in them?
Mostly skelly-courts and stikes zones.
What’s a skelly-court?
Its astreet game, with a grid.
What about the alchemical works, like tin and lead..
I think that worked.
I think so, too.
Because I was writing gold on all this stuff, and I made all this money right afterwards.
What about words like tin and asbestos?
That’s alchemy, too.
What about the list of pre-Socratic philosophers in the recent paintings, and the kinds of materials which get into your painting always, that derive not so much from Twombly, as from the same kind of synthetic thinking. Is that something you’ve done from your childhood, lists of things?
That was from going to Itally, and copying names out of tour books, and condensed histories.
Is the impulse to know a lot, or is the impulse to copy out things that stike you?
(….to be continued…)