Oral Histories

Interview of June Wayne (2011)

Printmaker, tapestry designer, and painter. Founder of the Tamarind Lithography Workshop.
Los Angeles Art Community - Group Portrait
Biographical Note:
Printmaker, tapestry designer, and painter. Founder of the Tamarind Lithography Workshop.
Stuart, Carolyn
Wayne, June
Persons Present:
Wayne and Stuart. Wayne’s staff members were in the background.
Place Conducted:
Wayne’s home 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 Carolyn Stuart, Ph.D., UCLA, Department of Art History, 2010. Stuart prepared for the interview by reviewing the entire transcript from the interviews taken by COHR in the late 1970s. She also reviewed select files from June Wayne’s papers at the UCLA Department of Special Collections. A partial bibliography of the published and unpublished materials she read is provided below. Other newspaper articles and reviews were consulted, including articles kept by the artist for her own press files. In addition to the printed materials, prior to recording, June Wayne and Carolyn Stuart discussed off-the-record many of her concerns about conducting the interview, at which time Wayne also shared information about her life.
Processing of Interview:
The interviewer compiled the table of contents and interview history and supplied the spelling of proper nouns and the complete names entered in brackets in the text. June Wayne died before she was able to review the transcript and therefore some proper names may remain unverified.The transcript of this interview is a verbatim transcript of the audio recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer.
8.75 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.
"June Wayne requested that a portion of Session 7, containing information related to her family life, be sealed. The passage was removed from the public version of the interview, and the entire audio was sealed."
Wayne’s thoughts on her age; How to handle the interview/oral history and be truthful and accurate; Interview with Studs Terkel on the male artist as the stereotypical female; Starting Tamarind Lithography Workshop was not accidental, contrary to what she said in her previous oral history for UCLA; Admiration for Eleanor Roosevelt; Reflecting on her previous oral history makes her want to be more accurate; Ten years of lithography experience before Tamarind (Lynton Kistler); Optical problems she was working on in painting; Changing media and Jules Langsner; Breakdown of focal/peripheral vision experienced in car, Second Street Tunnel, breakdown of form, dealing with narrative in painting; Description of Kistler’s workshop and class; Lithographs made at parties in Britain; Taking materials home to work with and interest in their physical properties; Her first lithograph; Elimination of color; The biology of optics, David Hockney; Both she and Jules Langsner were experienced prior to Tamarind; Took lithography stones home, some very large, dinner parties given to men for their help; Experimentation with lithography, steps to her larger aesthetic; Affection for materials, pores of stone, and their manipulation; Lithography process described; Technological changes in contemporary lithography; After ten years working with Kistler, recognizes his limitations, so she goes to Paris (1957); John Donne; Working as a female and American artist with a French male artisan in the 1950s; Getting Durassier to do what she wanted, become collaborators; Upon arrival, a day spent eating food prepared by Durassier; The folkways and idiosyncrasies of lithography and printmaking in Europe; Prices of American prints, the so-called democratic art form; Learning the “sociology” of printmaking in Europe and the US critical to starting Tamarind; Getting coaching to make her French understandable to non-Basque speakers; Met many French artists and developed a milieu of her own; Low ranking of lithography in the U.S.; There were only three printers when she went into lithography; Shoddiness and lack of sophistication in materials and techniques; Poor state of lithography within art schools; She knew there were better ways, it was a love affair; Technically adventuresome lithography by 1958; Decision to do Donne book; References to work experience, including Works Progress Administration (WPA), making jewelry, working in a car parts factory; Her experience making lithographs and the “sociology” of lithography all influence her plans for Tamarind; Receives survey letter from Ford Foundation; Opinion that $10,000 grants to artists didn’t solve anything; McNeil Lowry, reporter for Cox Newspapers; Lincoln Kirstein; The accidental part was pulling the letter out of the wastebasket; Breakfast with Lowry prior to departure to France; Discussed the condition of lithography; He requests proposal to improve lithography, raising many questions for June Wayne; Six months to write the plan, including research; Tamarind was intended to be a template; Promises she has Lowry make; Proposal “adequate” and sent to a hundred people; An intellectual challenge, but she is problem solver; WPA in Chicago (Saul Bellow, James Fitzgerald, Meyer Levin, Richard Wright); WGN Radio, Norman Corwin; Her WPA paintings are Ash Can School paintings; Invited by Mexican government to visit; Eighteen-year-old “tail-bait”; Exhibits at the Palacio de Belles Artes; Left everything behind in New York when she went to California; Many friends were musicians, knowledge of classical music, how she got her piano; “The habit of living underground” because she was female; Her behavior as a woman who ran Tamarind.
How lithography played into the development of Wayne’s aesthetic and optics; Reading the funnies as a child; Three girls living together, all eighteen years apart; Noticed dots in color comics; Discovery of commercial benday dots (something solid could be made of a lot of little things); A formative insight; Comments on contemporary riots in Egypt (everything is more complicated than it seems); The optical problem, focal/peripheral—Parallels to the biological structure; Deciphering patterns; Narrative in painting; Time and controlling the spectator’s eye path; Recent “filmlet” collage; Color lithography; Introducing color was highly technical; Perception, rods/cones sensitivity, movement; Experiments with reading things backwards, such as Cryptic Creature; Her lexicon of symbols; False starts and stops; Dorothy series; Experience of time in paintings; Communication though visual art compared to writing a letter; Hitler years; Her curiosity about ideas, feelings, things; Abraham Kaplan at UCLA and his fables; Spirituality and relationship to God; Narrative of Kaplan fables interested her; Justice and Jurors series; -The Curious; Idea of lights, what things are made of; Strange Moon; Witnessed a trial; Encapsulated in tubes; Pass one form through a module, The Dreamers; Went to eye doctors; the idea of glasses makes her smile; Modules with different emphasis; The Advocate, The Bride, The Suitor; The art at the time was anti-literary; There were no women successes; The WPA; Having a dealer; LA Times named her “Woman of the Year for Modern Art” ; Receives a silver moustache cup (replica of a Paul Revere cup); -Ironic prizes she has received; Lost friends Elsa Lanchester and Charles Laughton; Grant from the Lee Krasner–Jackson Pollock Foundation last year; Has five doctorates, funny since she’s a high school dropout; Many versions of a subject, pushing/exploring it, going into lithography at a new level; Self-portrait now owned by the National Gallery of Art; John Donne lithos done in Paris, 1958, including the poems, the time she met Lowry; Her relationship with Durassier and his wife, bringing him to do a month of demos at Tamarind; Finding hardwood for scraper near Grauman’s Chinese Theater; How to keep ink from shining; Originally intended to start Tamarind with Durassier; Set aside a day for when Durassier would cook for her; Durassier began showing off by telling his secrets with printers; Serge Lozingot; Lilliana; After Tamarind was able to make a lot of progress in her lithography because during the ten years she had only made twenty-eight; Exotic inking, registration; The Tidal Waves, The Stellar Winds, The Solar Flares, suites that are bound, and the Dorothy Series; The Finger, a suite she would like to do based on her always pointing in childhood photos; Physical inability to do aspects of lithography now; Planning big project so anywhere it stops it will have a structure and integrity; Current funds situation difficult; Has payroll; Expensive medications; She’d have to take over a lithography shop to do The Finger quickly; Other projects she’d like to do, never a dearth; The documentary film about her.
Benton Harbor, Michigan political takeover; Obama, Tea Party Movement; Why bring this to the fore in an art historical interview; Wayne's sense that had she understood what was coming, she might not have devoted her life to making art; Shift in the scale and quality of the kinds of things that should be occupying everyone; Women’s rights and feminism; Middle East revolts; The Internet makes it possible to create a virtual state of women; Herland; The status of women today; Wayne's current relationship to Tamarind; Art seems unworthy of attention in light of events at Benton Harbor; Wayne's relationship to the Art Institute of Chicago and the acceptance of her eleven tapestries displayed there; Problem of crafts being identified as female; Tapestry not appreciated in the U.S. (unlike Europe); Representation of women in the art world.
Idea of making tapestries; Madeleine Jarry; Inspector of Goeblin; Moeblier National; Ted Heinrich, curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1950s and at the Toronto Museum; Tamarind; Tidal Wave, Genetic Codes, Visa, Cosmic Stellar Winds; Dots of lithography not dissimilar to stiches; Tapestry had to be large; Braque tapestry at Arts Club in Chicago; Limited places to sell tapestries; Middle Ages; Mies Van de Rohe and International school of architecture; Deliberately made as modules; Most collectors don’t have large enough spaces; Antimacassar; Stitch is too large; Jarry drives June Wayne to workshops around France after having seen June Wayne’s cartoons; Calder, Picasso’s Guernica tapestry; Marketing predicament; Sells five tapestries, two to businessman for office building in San Diego; Cancels project on seven-story tapestry for atrium of building in Chicago; Photographs taken in Paris intended for documentary film; Legal dispute with Terry Sanders over Sanders’ credit and right to use the film; Wayne is forced to redo much of the film.
Filmlets; “Graphics of despair”’; Attempt to go on working in spite of physical handicaps; Color proofs, trial proofs of lithographs from the last fifty plus years in the files; “Vapor trail” of a life of accretion of raw material; Process of making filmlets with Larry Workman and Shuichi Sonokawa; Lithographic surfaces dignify the slick images; Filmlet as a hybrid and compared to scenes from a film; Larry’s experience as clothing designer and his communication with Wayne; Image using glasses; Lithographic self-portraits; Portrait with hair clippings; Wayne's feelings about eyeglasses; Her repertoire of symbols; Two kinds of vision; Art-making now at risk for Wayne; Performance art participation at the Pacific Design Center; Women’s liberation and femininity; Chris Burden, Yves Klein; Living in Paris near Yves Klein’s gallery on Rue St. Germain; Humor of filmlets; Sad Flute Player; Eva Plone; The Sanctified; Satiric aspect of Wayne’s art; Paper quality and longevity of Wayne’s art; Building out of modules; Thoughts on computer age and technology in general; Aesthetics and the wholeness of an image; Eyeglass images; Filmlet Scene 1; Filmlet Scene 4; “Gang of Three” chop; Next of Skin series, Jock for Sport, Jock for Cocktails, Dorothy Series; In retrospect finds her photos good, but had not taken them seriously before; Same Old Story; Rudi Gernreich; Discusses soundtrack for Dorothy Series; Presenting aspects of Dorothy’s life she was willing to talk about; Stalin; Appropriateness of behavior and dress; The “Cadillac” of corsetry; Wayne wouldn’t wear what Dorothy sent her, too confining; Rape; Wayne pleased to see Dorothy only got a G in deportment; Dorothy’s professional rise; From inquiry for Dorothy Series, Wayne learns her mother worked for a light manufacturing company; Information necessary for her mother to submit so she could get a telephone; Five years of research with staff to complete Dorothy Series and gave papers to UCLA archives; Sending and receiving photos from people; Kodak brownie photo; Photo of Durassier and Wayne; English collector purchased filmlet Rue Cassette, which has a distanced and halcyon atmosphere; Inclusion of lithography pencils and desire to do more in homage to lithography; Experimenting with 3D objects and technical problems; Wayne tries not to repeat anything, thus no more shoes.
Franz Alexander and his views on art; Interactions with psychoanalyst husband George Wayne and with his psychoanalyst colleagues; Views of psychoanalysis (psychoanalytic sum-ups were really put-downs); Begins to resist/challenge things psychoanalysts would say about artists; Alexander’s theory that the more abstract the art, the nearer the artist was to insanity, and realism was equivalent to mental health; Dating and marrying George; Impact of psychoanalysis on Jackson Pollock (after his death Pollock’s analyst claimed drawings used during therapy); Plans for new filmlet called Lovers that includes men who were culturally important to her; Romeo Greenson testified on behalf of artist Conner Everts, David Stewart (art dealer); Wayne testified in Everts trial; Fiber and tapestry were considered in competition with each other; Fiber movement of 1950s and 1960s declared tapestry “old fashioned”; Museum of Modern Art textile curator Mildred Constantine rejects one of Wayne’s tapestries for the Lausanne biennial; Difficult to get curators to look at tapestries as a separate medium; At Tamarind thought of as a “pushy woman,” but not at Ford; Problems in acceptance at Tamarind, including print dealers, print curators feeling affecting their hegemony; turning to color at Tamarind; Americans were printing on damp paper but convinced Garo that you could print dry; Ed Hamilton; References to lithography in the filmlet; Making art is out of sync with society now, it’s archaic; Pollock, Rube Kadish, Guston constantly talking about aesthetics; Gottlieb, Rothko; Wayne’s isolation; Ynez Johnson, Conner Everts, Robin Vaccarino; Georgia O’Keeffe at Tamarind; Kennedy’s assassination.