I met Willem de Kooning on
the fire escape, because a
black kitten lost in the
rain cried at my door, and
after the rain it turned
out to be his kitten.
Later, I saw in some Greek temples
contradictory forces operating pub-
licly at full speed. Reading the Il-
iad, the poem at the height of reason
presented the irrational and subjec-
tive, self-contradictory sweep of ac-
tion under inspiration. I had missed
the point in [talks with de Kooning].
The question Bill was keeping open
with an enduring impatience had been
that of professional responsibility
toward the force of inspiration. That
force or scale is there every day here
where everybody is. Whose responsibil-
ity is it, if not your own? What he
said was, "All an artist has left to
work with is his self-consciousness."
Next week, the Library
of America will publish
an indispensable reclam-
ation of contemporary
writings from the heart
of mid-20th Century art.
Here, Edwin Denby is re-
constituting the evolu-
tion of his friend's art
from the germinaton of
its conceptual rudiments.
I do not know a more ex-
citing project in art
history than the volume
which has lately fallen
into my hands. We are
closer than neighbors,
to such wonderful things.
The Flat Iron
Art in America
1945 - 1970
Writings from the
Age of Abstract Ex-
pressionism, Pop Art,
Library Classics of the
United States, 2014©