Tuesday, May 02, 2006


In 1990 Frederick Gore, C.B.E. Chairman of the Exhibitions Committee of The Royal Academy was visiting New York and came to look at my paintings. He selected forty for my first exhibition in London and he arranged for two of them to be on the front and back cover of Arts Review, Britain’s art magazine. Freddie invited many of Britain’s leading artists to my Private View, and he bought my painting At the Circus.

Freddie and I became friends. I was a frequent guest of Freddie and his wife Connie in their house in the hill village of Bonnieux in Provence. Freddie and I painted Van Gogh’s orchards, sunflower fields, and olive groves. In the evenings we talked of life and death, religion, and the history of art not necessarily in that order. In the early morning I wrote down everything that Freddie had said the night before. I considered myself his apprentice.

Freddie was strict when it came to critiquing my paintings. One day we were painting the olive orchard of Stephen Spender, the English poet. We had pitched our easels on a high rise so we could look down on the orchard. In the distance were the white Les Alpilles, the mountains where Dante wrote The Inferno.

When we stopped to look at each other’s paintings, I saw that Freddie had created a masterful work with color, depth, size of tree trunks, etc. I, on the other hand, had concentrated on the color of the earth and mountains leaving the olive tree trunks spindly. Freddie spoke in a serious voice: “The trunks of the trees look like crow’s feet! If you did more drawing you wouldn’t make this kind of mistake.” I started to thicken the trunks of the olive trees. “What are you doing?” asked Freddie. “I’m doing what you suggested.” “Leave it exactly as it is,” said Freddie. “Some people might like it.”


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