June 8, 2012

Artists’ protest letter to James Johnson Sweeney, New York, N.Y., 1956

In honor of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birthday: a 1956 artists’ letter of protest against his design for the Guggenheim Museum, which “indicates a callous disregard for the fundamental rectilinear frame of reference necessary for the adequate visual contemplation of works of art.”


  1. Sheila Ryan on June 8th, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    We pushed the empty frame of reason out the cabin door/No, we won’t be needing reason anymore. (Brian Eno and John Cale, Empty Frame.)

  2. Rick Neece on June 8th, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Thank you, Sheila.

  3. Sheila Ryan on June 8th, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    You bet, Ricky Cameron. The fundamental rectilinear frame of reference.

  4. Rick Neece on June 8th, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    I don’t recall if de Kooning or Motherwell appear in the Guggenheim. But when I was there, the first time I visited, there was a fortune in Giacometti aisle center on the spiral. I was there with a vis-merch friend from Chicago. As we looked at one, particularly skinny and craggy, I recalled a drawing in the Quarterly by…what was his name? Yung Lung? I think he’s been later identified as Atticus Lish. I leaned in to my compadre as we admired the sculpture. I said, “we call this one ‘Another fucking awful day.'”

  5. Sheila Ryan on June 8th, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Rick? You’re a bird.

  6. Sheila Ryan on June 8th, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Me, I am not in the rectilinear vein not even the least little bit. I’ve tasked myself with painting lots and lots of watermelons tongiht. Painting pictures of watermelons. Not applying paint to melons.

  7. Casey Cichowicz on June 8th, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Oh. Now I understand.

  8. Rick Neece on June 8th, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    No, dear, I’m like a bird.

  9. SC on June 9th, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    As far as I can tell, the only living artist on that list is Will Barnet. He’s 101 this year and he still lives and works in the National Arts Club. The last time I walked past his apartment, perhaps two years ago, there were several fresh paintings propped against the wall in front of his door.

    Also, it’s interesting that Sally Michel is on that list. I suspect her career was lively as Milton Avery’s (her husband) at the time. She seems more or less forgotten now.

  10. ScottF on June 11th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    The recent exhibit hung from the skylight would have blown their minds.