Oral Histories

Interview of Hans Burkhardt

Los Angeles Art Community: Group Portrait, Hans Burkhardt
Los Angeles Art Community - Group Portrait
Biographical Note:
Einstein, Susan
Burkhardt, Hans
Persons Present:
Tapes I and II: Burkhardt, Einstein, and Mrs. Burkhardt; Tape III: Burkhardt, Einstein, Mrs. Burkhardt, and Nancy Olexo.
Place Conducted:
Burkhardt's home and studio in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Susan Einstein, UCLA Oral History Program (for "Los Angeles Art Community: A Group Portrait"); B.A., Art History, UCLA; M.A., Art History, UC Berkeley. Photographer, UCLA Museum of Cultural History. Co-author, Sam Francis (New York, Abrams, 1975).Einstein prepared for the interview by pursuing a full biographical study of the subject prior to the interview, utilizing numerous magazine articles and catalog texts as the primary sources of information.
Processing of Interview:
The verbatim transcript of the interview was edited by Lawrence Weschler, Assistant Editor, Oral History Program, who checked it for accuracy and edited for punctuation, paragraphing, spelling, and verification of proper names. Words or phrases introduced by him have been bracketed. The final transcript remains in the order of the original taped material .Hans Burkhardt then reviewed and approved the edited transcript after making a few additions, corrections, and elaborations.The edited transcript was reviewed by Joel Gardner, Senior Editor, Oral History Program, prior to its final processing. The index and introduction were prepared by the editor. Other front matter was prepared by the program staff.
4 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series includes interviews with prominent Los Angeles-based visual artists and other members of the art establishment whose careers span the period from the 1920s through the 1970s. It documents the art community of the pre-World War II period and the rise of Los Angeles as a nationally recognized art center in the postwar period. Funding for this series was provided by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Birth in Switzerland--Early years, in anorphanage--First exposure to and interestin art--Early jobs--Emigration to NewYork--A job decorating period furniture--Studying at Cooper Union and GrandCentral School of Art--Meeting andstudying with Arshile Gorky--Gorky andde Kooning--Sociopolitical orientation ofpaintings: being the "most Americanpainter"--The antismoking paintings--Early painting in New York: gradual turnto abstraction--Conservative vs. modernistmovements--Gorky's New York airport mural and its destruction--Other mural destructions--Move to Los Angeles, 1937--Building a lovely home--Working in a defense plant and painting in the evenings--The war paintings--Lorser Feitelson, Arthur Millier, and the Los Angeles art scene in the thirties--Painting when inspired--Diversity of styles--'Silent Sounds': the bell series--Travels to Mexico--Mexican culture--Paintings aboutLos Angeles.
More on local art scene in the thirties--The dominance of the conservatives--A few modernists--The galleries and the county art museum--Juried shows: the preponderant influence of Rico Lebrun'sstyle in the forties--Los Angeles's exposure to modern masters--Painting what you believe in, irrespective of dominant tastes--The Crucifixion series--Going toMexico--Painting the culture of Mexico--Politically idealistic paintings: lynching, the United Nations, and the studio strike--Red-baiting--More on Mexico--Sketches as the bases for paintings--Color--Abstraction--Exhibiting in shows--Collecting and donating the collection to the public--Making own prints--Living the best life--Printing rather than painting--Towards assemblage--Collecting skulls--Anti-Vietnam war painting--Big canvases--A painting attacking the Los Angeles County Museum of Art--LACMA's neglect of local senior artists.
"Nine Senior Southern California Artists":the show at the Los Angeles Institute ofContemporary Art (1974)--Subsequent history of LAICA--Old artists and young artists--The show of California art at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1976)--Art in California in the forties and fifties--A variety of personal styles, but generally abstract--Realistic social protests: war and picket lines--An antismoking painting--More on Mexican morgues and painting--Vietnam and Kent State--The paintings given to California State University at Northridge-Crucifixions--Painting style in the thirties: influence of Gorky's teaching World War II paintings--The burial series--Architectural fantasies--Primeval images--Swimming--Comparing 'The Burial of Gorky' to'Tropical Landscape'--'Gateway to Eternity'--The 'Silent Sounds' series--The role of the sketchbook and the evolution of an individual style.
Affinities with other artists--War as atheme--Pastels--Nudes--Teaching--Befriending Mark Tobey in Switzerland--Donating Tobeys to CSUN--Cleaning Tobey's studio--Neatness--Tobey's final years--The importance of living in the right place for the progress of a career--Fame--In the world and out of theworld--Current relations with other LosAngeles artists--Recent prints--Wife'scontribution--Linoleum prints.
A camera overview of the interior of thehouse (comments on the contents)--Thelegacy of friends--Building the studio--Inside the studio: a survey of works--Burying enemies--Prints--The antismokingseries.