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Oral history interview with Donald Windham, 2007 March 12

Windham, Donald, 1920-2010



Collection Information

Size: 37 Pages, Transcript

Format: Originally recorded on 2 sound discs. Reformatted in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 50 min.

Summary: An interview of Donald Windham conducted 2007 March 12, by Elizabeth Kornhauser, for the Archives of American Art, at Windham's home, in New York, N.Y.
Windham speaks of his long-time friendship with Joseph Cornell; first meeting Cornell in 1944 while working with him at Dance Index; Cornell's interest in dancers and actresses including Gwen Van Dam, Dorothy and Lillian Gish, Lauren Bacall, Fanny Cerrito, and Tanaquil LeClercq; Cornell's film work with Rudy Burckhardt; Cornell's limited gallery representation by Charles Egan Gallery and Julien Levy Gallery; Cornell showing boxes in Ernst Beadle's photography studio; Cornell's friendship with Marcel Duchamp; Cornell's retiring personality; Cornell's disinterestedness in participating in the art business world and subsequently being labeled a recluse; Cornell's appreciation of Albrecht Dürer's self-portraits; Cornell's joy in giving and sharing his boxes and collages with people who truly enjoy them; the boxes Pink Palace and Keepsake Parakeet in his personal collection; Cornell's advice on caring for his boxes; and attending Cornell's funeral. Windham also recalls Lincoln Kirstein, Tennessee Williams, Peggy Guggenheim, Richard Ader, Sandy Campbell, Lois Smith, Robert Cornell, Elizabeth Cornell Benton, Helen Cornell Jagger, Fritz and Jeanne Bultman, Ed Hewitt, and Jeff Peabody.

Biographical/Historical Note

Donald Windham is a novelist from New York, N.Y. Elizabeth Kornhauser is a curator at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut.


This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

Language Note

English .


Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.



The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with Donald Windham  on 2007 March 12. The interview took place at Windham's home in New York, N.Y., and was conducted by Elizabeth Kornhauser for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. 

Elizabeth Kornhauser has reviewed the transcript and has made corrections and emendations. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.


BETSY KORNHAUSER:  This is Betsy Kornhauser interviewing Donald Windham, on March 12, at his apartment on Central Park South in New York City.

So, Donald, I thought I would just begin—you know, I did read that wonderful piece you wrote a number of years ago for C & M [Joseph Cornell Box Constructions and Collages. New York:  C & M Arts, 1998].

DONALD WINDHAM:  Yeah, I just—I wrote whatever I could remember.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And I, you know, I noticed that you first met Joseph Cornell in 1944, or 1943, the year you started—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, about then, '44. It's when I started working for Lincoln Kirstein, getting out Dance Index. And before I was there, I think they had already contacted—there had been one or two issues, and Cornell had done the covers for them, and he continued doing the covers most of the time I was there. And I was just trying to remember, because they were very—I don't know if you knew Dance Index, but it was very—it was—scholarly is hardly the word which—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, really?

MR. WINDHAM:  But, you know, it was not designed to interest anybody who wasn't already interested in the subject, so I just said to Cornell, you know, let's do something that would be more interesting for you and me. And so, you know, first issue was four of those ballerinas in the 19th century, but then, the second one we did was Hans Christian Andersen, which was wonderful, because he was very fond of Andersen.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So you could basically have the freedom to choose what you wanted to do?

MR. WINDHAM:  Oh, yeah, well, there are a lot of—lot of scholarly things had been arranged before I got there, but then Kirstein, who I think for a brief while he was in Washington, but then he went overseas something—


MR. WINDHAM:  —so there was nobody except the woman that I had to keep in touch with, his secretary, who paid all the bills.


MR. WINDHAM:  And paid me my $25 a week is all I got.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  For your salary.

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, yeah, and—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And Cornell had been there before you?

MR. WINDHAM:  He had done the—I think the first issue was on Isadora Duncan. And that he did the cover for that. Anyway, that's how I met him. I didn't know him before then.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And what do you remember about him? What were your first impressions?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, of him?


MR. WINDHAM:  Well, my main first impression was that, you know, he worked for a lot of magazines, doing—getting iconography for them. So I thought, why is this man who has just come from Harper's Bazaar or Mademoiselle or something seeming shy about talking to me? I think I've written about this. He was always trying to find out what I was an expert on, because I think he was used to dealing with people saying, I'm an expert in this and I'm an expert in that, and I just said to Joseph, I'm not an expert in anything.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  You were young, right? You were quite young.

MR. WINDHAM:  I was 22, probably.


MR. WINDHAM:  Depending—I was born in 1920, so I was probably 23.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And this was 1943, yeah.


MS. KORNHAUSER:  Yeah, interesting. And how—do you remember how your friendship developed? I mean, was he—

MR. WINDHAM:  With Cornell?


MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I don't remember when I first started doing it, but I would go to see him out in Flushing, and this was interesting because I read about people who say that he had a basement full of boxes and things. Well, I don't remember ever going in a basement in that house, but his garage was full of things, and at one point, he didn't—I can't say he had girlfriends—he was enamored of young women, and one of them with her boyfriend started stealing things from the garage.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, really?

MR. WINDHAM:  And then Joseph—his main concern was to get her out of jail to pay off whatever it is—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  To help? Do you remember her name?



MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I might if—I might have sometime, but—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So he was worried about her stealing things from her garage?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, he wasn't worried, but other people were. But it was her boyfriend that was something. But Joseph—I'm trying to think if he had a dealer then; I don't think he had any dealer in those days.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Not early on.

MR. WINDHAM:  He would show sometimes at Peggy Guggenheim's—oh, and incidentally, I know she's dead now of something, but she had a lot of Cornell boxes—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, right, she did.

MR. WINDHAM:  —in Venice, and I knew her when I was living in Venice when she was there—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, really?

MR. WINDHAM:  —and we went to that house several times. She—my memories are not very accurate—not very important—she had a garden, and she said—it was a kind of graveyard in the garden of her house, and she said, these are all my children. And they were—I think they were dogs or something.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Yeah, her dogs, yeah. She buried her dogs there; I remember taking my children to see that once.

MR. WINDHAM:  You've been there?

MS. KORNHAUSER:  I went, yeah. We were shown the little—

MR. WINDHAM:  It's so long ago that I was there because it was when she was still living there.


MR. WINDHAM:  And I was living in Venice for awhile then.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Well, when you were working with Cornell at Dance Magazine

MR. WINDHAM:  Dance Index.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Dance Index.

MR. WINDHAM:  Because there is another one called Dance Magazine.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  That's right. Do you remember Cornell, would he talk to you about his art?

MR. WINDHAM:  No. He didn't talk about his art. What he talked about was—I don't know, about his brother and his family and all, and I got on visiting terms with him and I often went out to see him. And he lived with his mother [Helen Storms Cornell] and brother [Robert Cornell], but he had two sisters [Elizabeth Cornell Benton and Helen Cornell Jagger], and they all lived, well, near to each other out on Long Island.


MR. WINDHAM:  And I never—I went once—one of his sisters was named Mrs. [Elizabeth Cornell] Benton, and I even went and stayed with her once or twice. Right after Cornell died, the family approached me about writing a book about him.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, really?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well then they changed their mind totally, went with this other guy.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, that's too bad! That would have been a great thing.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, they—I think they thought I was not moral enough.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Why did they think that?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, they read some things I had written about, I don't know, but, you know, they had various—they had—I don't know that Joseph had any particularly strict things, but his relatives, you know, they didn't like—they didn't, well, you know, I wrote novels—


MR. WINDHAM:  —and the people had sex in the novel.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Right. People actually did, yeah.

MR. WINDHAM:  Was not to be written about it.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Isn't that—

MR. WINDHAM:  And, of course, I don't know what they imagined I might write about. You know, I had a great idea for doing a book on Cornell because one of my favorite books was a biography of William Wetmore Story—


MR. WINDHAM:  —who was a sculptor, you know, they went and lived in Rome, and I think it was Henry James or someone who did the book on him, but what they did was mainly a book of his letters—his correspondence with various people, with the people's letters to him.


MR. WINDHAM:  I thought that was a great idea for a book with Cornell because—not that he was a good letter writer, but he—I think he saved everything.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  He seemed to.

MR. WINDHAM:  And I don't know what's hap—I suppose the two sisters are dead now.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  They are, yeah.

MR. WINDHAM:  The one of them had a son—I don't think a son; I guess it was a grandson, it's the daughter's son—and he once got in touch with Mr. [Richard] Ader at the Cornell Foundation.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Richard Ader.

MR. WINDHAM:  And he said, could the foundation hire him? And Mr. Ader, who could get indignant very easily, said, there is no—we don't hire anybody. There's me and there's Windham. And of course, it's pure chance that I'm a trustee because I think—I think I was the fifth or sixth alternate trustee.


MR. WINDHAM:  But the others were all gallery owners and dealers, and I think he just, wanting another one at the end, said, we'll add—let's add Windham.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Well, it was—so Richard Ader chose you to be on the board?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well he didn't choose me. Cornell had listed me, but I was—


MR. WINDHAM:  —I was the last of the alternate one. Nobody—it was Joseph's—Cornell; it was his choice.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  He formed the group. Oh, I see.

MR. WINDHAM:  And it just happened that I outlived the other people.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  I see. That's interesting.

MR. WINDHAM:  There's probably—I never thought of it that way before, but maybe being a gallery owner is a dangerous profession.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Yeah. They don't live very long. Well, you know, getting back to what you said about his family, in Deborah Solomon's book [Utopia Parkway:  The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell. New York:  Farrer, Straus, and Giroux, 1997], she suggested that Cornell was a prude.

MR. WINDHAM:  Was a what?

MS. KORNHAUSER:  A prude. We were talking about—

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, yeah, I know, yeah.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  —sexual issues and—but do you think it was his family that were prudish?

MR. WINDHAM:  I don't think so. I think that Joseph—he was—I've often said he was not really shy, but he was shy of words.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Of using words. Well, did—I mean, I guess what—Deborah Solomon's biography sort of creates a certain image of Cornell and his relationship with his mother and, you know—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, you know, he did—I'm trying to think, his mother and brother died before he did, and I think he stayed out in the same house, but I went out there once and stayed with—I wish I could remember—Mrs. Benton is one of the sister's name.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  The sister, yeah.

MR. WINDHAM:  But the other one was—it was very peculiar because they all lived in the same town, and I stayed with one of them—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  To be near Joseph?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, no, this is after he's dead.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, after he's dead.

MR. WINDHAM:  This is when they were discussing about some—people doing books on him. And why they decided that I was not—anyway, they dropped the idea; I didn't drop it. And I was—God knows I was pleased that they dropped it because I thought, in retrospect, it would have been nothing but trouble with them.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  With the sisters.

MR. WINDHAM:  They would not have approved of anything I did.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Well, what do you think has been left out of the story, I mean, as far as his personal relationships with women or, I don't know, with men?

MR. WINDHAM:  No, no, he was—all he was was he was mad for teenage girls, but certainly to a certain degree, he was shy of them. The one that I can remember that was quite scandalous in its own way was—the Dance Index, at that time, was on Madison Avenue about 59th, and across the street, there was a Trans-Lux Theatre, and I just know that once Joseph went up to the ticket office where a young women worked and offered her a bouquet of flowers. They thought he was mad. Imagine that! I mean, he didn't try—he didn't do anything except offer flowers.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, so it was kind of innocent?

MR. WINDHAM:  I think it was always innocent. And, of course, what—I don't—you don't know about other people's sex lives. We knew—that he ever had any real contact with these icons that he fell in—and he was—like the girl in the Trans-Lux Theatre, but then also, he had the same kind of feeling about the Gish sisters. I got out in the entrance hall there. I've got a little picture he gave me, you know, just a Xerox of the Gish sisters [Dorothy and Lillian] when they were very young.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Really, that he gave you?


MS. KORNHAUSER:  Why would he give that to you, just to share?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, you know, at the time, I was seeing him all the time, I'd had a play done. I mean, I was involved in the theater a lot, and he also—he would ask Sandy more than me because Sandy I lived with was an actor.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Sandy Campbell?

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, and worked with a number of actors, and Joseph was always—he would say that—say he was Rudy Burckhardt, that he made some movies with, and it was always, in his idea, that he was going to get a young actress to be in them, and, of course, when he directed them or saw them, all he would do is say, well, walk down this block, or walk—look at this fountain, or something.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So it was kind of—well, I read in, I think it was the piece you wrote or it was in Deborah Solomon's book that you actually introduced Cornell to the actress Lois Smith, and Cornell went to see her perform on Broadway or you—

MR. WINDHAM:  Yes, he did, he saw—Lois is still a friend of mine.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, really? Really?

MR. WINDHAM:  I see her all the time. Yeah. She lives on 86th Street, and her daughter lives in—she has been divorced a long time, but her daughter lives in Philadelphia, so this and that. And Lois still works quite a lot. She's in—in fact, she went out with me to Fire Island maybe two or three years ago, and on the ferry, everybody recognized her because she had been in a movie with—oh, who was a big star then, teenager? But anyway.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So she's still working. And I think you wrote that when you went—I think you wrote that you took Cornell to a Broadway production that she was in, and that he kept his hands over his eyes for most of the production.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, he did that. People thought that was shy, but I think that was just a habit. They thought he was peeking through his finger; well I don't think that. But what I remember that from mainly is, you know, when I first knew Cornell, the Dance Index office was in—was just a room in the School of American Ballet, which was at Madison and 59th Street. And he used to come in and sit and watch the classes, and he would sit in the corner like this—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Pretending that he wasn't looking, or—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, maybe pretending, but have you ever been to a ballet class? Because it's a whole room but then there's a wall that's all mirrors so they can see themselves, but if you're sitting there, you're sitting below the mirrors, so he's facing you. I mean—I don't mean he's facing you; the dancers are facing you, and he would come and he loved to sit and watch the classes, which he would do quite often.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And was it—do you think he was only interested in young girls, that was all?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, certainly not interested in young men, if that's what you're—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MR. WINDHAM:  Whether there's an age limit for the—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  For the girls.

MR. WINDHAM:  —women he was interested in, I don't know. But—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Well you also introduced him to another actress, Gwen Van [Dam]—

MR. WINDHAM:  Gwen, Gwen, Gwen—


MR. WINDHAM:  Oh, that's not quite right.


MR. WINDHAM:  Van, Van—but yeah, he was very—I think he got her to do one of those movies that, as I say, they mainly consisted of people walking down the street. Gwen—not Ferris, that's a different, that's somebody else I know—but she was the right age and everything, like Lois. They were both in their 20s then. Lois, I keep up with her age because I can remember she's 10 years younger than me, so that made her pretty young in those days.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And he evidently asked her out on a date, according to, I think Deborah Solomon suggests that.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, indeed, I don't think he ever asked people out on dates.


MR. WINDHAM:  He did—he liked to go to the theater, and he liked to ask Sandy to bring him things, you know, bits of costumes. Sandy worked with—gosh, I can't think of it. God, I'm getting worse and worse about names—Jessica Tandy.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, sure.

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, and took some things to him from her and—but do you know, when—I think I wrote about that—because when Joseph, you take him to the theater or something, what he would always remember were the curtain calls and things like that, you know, and how—he liked that in between thing, you know. They're there as performers, but he liked them when they came out of it and took curtain calls.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  To see them for real people?


MS. KORNHAUSER:  That's interesting.

MR. WINDHAM:  And I say, I'm still friends with Lois, and—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So his circle of friends in New York, how far did it extend? There was the dance circle—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, this is something that could cause—it's interesting about Joseph; to my knowledge, he never spent the night in New York. You know, if he came in, it was for the afternoon. He haunted secondhand magazine places on, around Sixth Avenue—not Sixth Avenue, Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street. He also haunted the lower Fourth Avenue—that's the lower end of Fourth Avenue, that is, and all those book stores and he would, you know, he would often come to the Dance Index and show me this marvelous discovery he had made, which would be nothing but just an 18th century—I mean, a 19th century book in which there was a mention of Sharatua [ph], one of the people he was interested in.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So he did share his finds with you?

MR. WINDHAM:  Oh, yeah, he used to come and would show me things all the time, but you know, there was no—it was not a rare book world then; there was a second hand book world, you know.


MR. WINDHAM:  And then what they would go for a couple of thousand dollars now would have gone for $50 at the most then.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So he would carry these things back to Flushing after he found them?

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah. I don't know—I'm trying to think, because I don't think in all the time I knew him he ever really had a gallery except for the [Charles] Egan Gallery [New York, NY], and that's because of—I wrote the announcement for him for that, and that's why he gave me that box.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, that was the—

MR. WINDHAM:  And incidentally, I lived on the little apartment on Madison Avenue and I kept this box in the bedroom because the bedroom was white and the box was white, and he didn't like that.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Why didn't he like that?

MR. WINDHAM:  He wanted it in the living room. So there was no reason—well, it was a floor through but it was, you know, a top—it was a brownstone walkup, and he wanted it in the room where it was more apt to be seen—


MR. WINDHAM:  —because he didn't want to have galleries, but he wanted his work seen.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Well, who did he want it seen by?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, he wanted it—I don't know who he wanted it seen by, but it was mainly seen by other artists, you know, because I don't think until the very end of his life he was ever selling boxes, you know. Do you know Jeanne? Have you ever been to see Jeanne Bultman? She—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  I know the name.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, her husband was Fritz Bultman, and they shared a gallery—Joseph and her husband—for awhile, and, well anyway, she has a very nice box of Cornell's, and I think I wrote about that because Fritz wanted one, and nobody had any money in those days, and if I remember correctly, he bought it paying $10 a month for a year, so which means it was about a thousand dollars, which was toward the end of Cornell's life. I wish I could remember. I bought that Pink Palace [1946]—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  That's another box.


MS. KORNHAUSER:  You bought that one?

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, yeah.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Called the Pink Palace.

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, Sandy and I bought it. But it was, I don't know, maybe $200 or something.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  When, do you remember? Did you buy it from one of his shows, or just directly?

MR. WINDHAM:  I think I bought it from him.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Just directly from him?

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, yeah, yeah, because, well, you know, he never had—the Egan Gallery, he had a big show at, but mainly he didn't have—I'm trying to think of the name of the photographer—Ernst Beadle.


MR. WINDHAM:  He used to show—he used to show his work in Beadle's photograph studio, which I don't remember where that was now, but somewhere in Manhattan.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And he would prefer someone like you to have a box, like that one is called Keepsake Parakeet [Cockatoo:  Keepsake Parakeet, 1949-1953], that's the one that you got for writing for—his show was called Aviary Show ["Aviary by Joseph Cornell." Egan Gallery. December 1949 – January 1950]?

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, it was at Egan Gallery, which is his—to my memory, is the only gallery I remember he had, but he didn't—I don't know whether he didn't like gallery owners or just didn't like having a gallery. I guess he didn't like being tied down, you know.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  How did you feel when he gave—did you realize, I mean, at that time, did you realize that it was an important work?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I liked it and all, but I liked all of his work. But his work was not, you know—most of his life, his work—what did, somebody included him in a show called "Toys for Adults," and that was the idea, that they were—that they were not serious things.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  I see. And that's demeaning.

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, well, I mean, he didn't mind that, but he was not taken seriously by the art world, particularly.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  But since you knew him well, did you—did he really see his audience as people like you, like people that knew—

MR. WINDHAM:  I think I even said that in something:  his idea of an audience was always of an individual, you know.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Like one person?

MR. WINDHAM:  One person, yeah.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Who—would they have to be someone that he had made the object for or that had something to do with the object?

MR. WINDHAM:  Not necessarily, because unfortunately—unfortunately or fortunately—when he made objects for people, he gave them to them. For instance, I know Lois, I still see. She—so many a collage she has, but also it helped very greatly—if the women he were interested in had small children, because he was mad for Lois's daughter, who must have been 10 or 12 at that time, I think the last time I ever saw Cornell was at Lois's apartment. She lived in East, East 86th or something, and he would go there and visit her, but mainly he liked to visit with people who had children.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Really? And do you think that his art, when he was making his art, he was thinking about that, that children would respond to it?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I don't know, but I think—I think, well you know, it's mysterious because he never acted as though he were part of the New York art world, which is—and I think he and I had a conversation once and it was—he was saying that people were ridiculous calling him—not a hermit, what do they call him?

MS. KORNHAUSER:  A recluse.

MR. WINDHAM:  Recluse, yeah. And he said—well, of course he wasn't a recluse; he just was not—he was not part of the art business world.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And he chose not to be.

MR. WINDHAM:  As far as I can, I'm aware of, because you know, it was a very different world then. It wasn't—nearly all galleries in the '40s were run by people who just happened to collect art, so then they were trying to spread out their finances by also selling. I was friends with a man named Ed Hewitt, and he had a gallery for awhile. I don't think he ever showed Cornell, but it was the way people ran galleries then. They collected and then they wanted to make a business out of it, but it wasn't a business you went into.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  I see. Did he—I mean, in his circle of friends—did he engage with any other artists?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, yeah, he was friends—he was good friends with [Marcel] Duchamp, that's all I know, and I think it's very—I think that was by hit or miss, I don't know whether that was based on a liking on their parts for each other's work or not because—but I know he was—I know he admired Duchamp and that they were friends. But I don't think he liked Calais [sp]. Julien Levy [Gallery], I think, gave him his first show, and I don't know exactly what happened, but he was always reluctant to have galleries.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  After that experience with Levy?

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, well that's before I knew him. That was—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  That was in the—because—

MR. WINDHAM:  Into the '30s, I—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  The Wadsworth [Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT]—bought the [Untitled] Soap Bubble Set [1936] from one of the Julien Levy shows in the '30s. It was shown in 1936 and then we bought it in 1938.

MR. WINDHAM:  And then it was at the Museum of Modern Art [New York, NY], I think, and then the Wadsworth bought it. I don't know when they bought it, but maybe when it—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  '38, I think it was.

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, and I must say, it was sort of like unprecedented. I don't think anybody had ever bought—any museum—had ever bought a Cornell.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  No, it was very early. It was because of our director, [Everett] Chick Austin [Jr.], who was very close to Julien Levy, and—

MR. WINDHAM:  And Levy, I never, I don't even—I think his gallery must have closed about the time I started going to galleries. I think I went there maybe once or something, but I don't think it lasted longer than '41 or '42.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  I think that's right. And so Joseph, he really separated his work, his commercial work, from his art.

MR. WINDHAM:  Oh, yeah, that was very firm, and even though he—what he did for Dance Index was what he thought was, I think—I don't know whether he used the word "hackwork" or not, but anyway, that was his feeling. It was a job.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Did he ever express frustration to you about being an artist, or you know, working as an artist?

MR. WINDHAM:  No, I don't think so. I think he just, as far as I can see, he didn't have that mentality, business mentality. I think he was always just pleased that if anybody wanted to buy something. I was trying to remember, but I'm not sure, but I know that Sandy and I bought that box, and I think it was, that it was about $200, which would be the top, top prices he was getting.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And that—for the Pink Hotel, it's called?

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, the Pink Palace, I think it's called.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Pink Palace. Would he, when you—

MR. WINDHAM:  Let me see if that—


MR. WINDHAM:  It probably says something on the back, I don't know, I'm not even sure. Excuse me, I've interrupted your question.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, sure. Oh, that's okay.

MR. WINDHAM:  I'm not sure I can take this down, but I think I can.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  I'd help you, but I'd have to disconnect my headset.

Oh, it's—

MR. WINDHAM:  I wanted to see what it says on the back, which is practically nothing.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  The boxes are always so nicely made, aren't they?

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, and I think he nearly always made them, which—I don't think he—I think he started getting boxes, I don't know quite how he got them, but later on, he was making them.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Right, it's beautifully made. It's a beautiful box.

MR. WINDHAM:  And I'm not sure that—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  It has an inscription on the back.

MR. WINDHAM:  Just his signature, but it's also something that's typed, which is faded.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  It's a really beautiful box. I wonder why he chose the color pink.


MS. KORNHAUSER:  Why he chose the color pink, which he outlines the palace in.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, Pink Palace, he called this one. It's very dusty, too.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And it's signed, "Joseph Cornell."


MS. KORNHAUSER:  And then it has a strange inscription, I don't—in his own hand. This.

MR. WINDHAM:  The typing has faded.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Yeah. You can see Joseph Cornell—

MR. WINDHAM:  See, Joseph Cornell.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Looks like "1946."

MR. WINDHAM:  Possibly that late. I don't think it was; I think it was earlier.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Maybe I misread the year.

MR. WINDHAM:  I might have gotten it from him then. '46 would be the first year I had any money, you know. I had—there was a play I did with Tennessee [Williams] that was done on Broadway. It didn't last very long.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  With Tennessee Williams?

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah. He and I had written it before he—before he wrote The Glass Menagerie [1946], and it was done at a Cleveland playhouse, and it was done at a Pasadena playhouse, but it wasn't done in New York until after The Glass Menagerie was done, and then—I'm just trying to remember. When the play Tennessee and I did [You Touched Me!] was done in '45, that's the first time I got any money. So that would be when I bought—


MR. WINDHAM:  —one of the Cornells.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And when you bought it, did you—was it because of your friendship with Joseph?

MR. WINDHAM:  It's not divisible; I mean, I liked his work because I knew it and I knew the work because I knew him. He didn't have an art world reputation then.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  I read, I think, that early on, when you were working for Dance Index, that sometimes Tennessee Williams would come by the office to write.

MR. WINDHAM:  Oh, yeah, he was there all the time.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Because you were there, or—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I was working there, but Tennessee—the reason Tennessee came there, we were friends. We had written—actually, the play we wrote, we wrote in '43. It wasn't done until—well, it was done in Cleveland in '43 or something, but it wasn't done—it was done on Broadway in '45. It had Montgomery Clift in it, which is a main, memorable thing about it, but then it had Edmund Gwenn, and if you know who Edmund Gwenn—was in a movie called The Miracle on 34th Street [1947] in which he played the man who played Santa Claus, and that used to, that used to—for many, many years, it was always on television—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Yeah, it still is.

MR. WINDHAM:  —in the season around Christmas. So everyone remembers who Edmund Gwenn was.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Did Joseph see the play that you wrote with—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I'm quite sure he did, because both Sandy and I used to give him tickets, I mean—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  That's nice.

MR. WINDHAM:  —just because Sandy would want to be seen and I'm sure that I wanted him to see You Touched Me!

MS. KORNHAUSER:  You wrote once that he suffered—Cornell suffered from migraine headaches, which you thought was one of the reasons why he covered his face.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I know that he said that he had headaches, but I don't know that—I don't remember writing about that. But he—I don't—the main thing I remember about his home life is that the brother was invalid, and as far—until his brother and mother died, he lived with them, and I don't think he lived with either of the sisters after that. But I think he still lived in their house in Flushing that he'd lived in with his mother and brother. I wasn't seeing him again in those days because he wasn't coming to New York much.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  When you went out to visit him, what was it like? What was his mother like? Did you get a sense of their relationship?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I never—I don't think I ever stayed in the house where he lived with his mother; it was always one of the sisters that I stayed with, and they were—they all lived, I'm trying to think what other town was. They all lived within a mile or two of each other. One of the great stories Joseph told me, because you know his brother was an invalid—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  He had muscular dystrophy [cerebral palsy]?

MR. WINDHAM:  This was before I was in New York, in the late '30s, I think, there was a terrible storm of some sort, like not a cyclone, but anyway, and I remember Joseph telling me that he had to pick up his brother and take him back to the house because they were on the beach somewhere in wherever they lived out there. I think, I think it—I had a—one of my aunts had an invalid child that was always in a wheelchair, I think so I was used to that with Joseph. I know he used to ask me to shave him. [Laughs.]

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Did you? Did you do that?

MR. WINDHAM:  The brother, the brother, not J. Not Joseph. [Laughs.]

MS. KORNHAUSER:  You shaved Robert? Well, that was nice.


MS. KORNHAUSER:  So did Robert know about your family history with your aunt?

MR. WINDHAM:  No, I don't know that he knew, well, my family, but I knew about their family.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And his relationship with Robert was—it seemed very close?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, you know, certainly I've often thought that it's in order to show Robert things—that's the impetus of nearly all of his early work, the boxes and all.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  To show him?

MR. WINDHAM:  To show his things to his brother.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So did he work in front of Robert, or—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, they lived with his mother; they lived in the same house. But as I think I've told you, or somebody I was telling, because other people talk about the basement. I don't remember anything ever going in the basement, but I do know that he put his boxes in the garage. [Laughs.] And well, you know, if anything is open to being robbed—a garage—[laughs]—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Yes, so he didn't—

MR. WINDHAM:  And whether that town was—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So Robert was a really important person in his life?

MR. WINDHAM:  Oh, I think so, because—but of course, Robert was totally helpless. He was in a wheelchair. And of course, I don't remember chronology very well, but both Robert and Joseph's mother died before Joseph did. And he stayed living on in the house that they had lived in; he didn't go to live with either one of his sisters who were both in, I don't know, the same town. They all lived near each other on Long Island.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Right. So it was a very tight, tight family.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, they were close to each other and Mrs. Benton was the sister I knew. And the other sister's named Ms. Jagger, I think—and she—Mrs. Benton didn't have any children but I think the Jaggers had at least a son and maybe the person I remember was their daughter's son—


MR. WINDHAM:  —cause it was generations ago, but—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Did they—after Joseph died, did you feel that they had any sense of the importance of his work?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I guess. I didn't have much to do with them. I do know that one of the things I did was write for a lawyer that—later I became a trustee of the estate, but I wasn't in those days. And the estate was suing—this is, you know, the last thing in the world Cornell would have wanted—the estate was suing his relatives, saying we have to have proof that you were given these boxes, not lent them.

Well, you know, if you give your sister or your—you don't get—there are no papers to go with it.


MR. WINDHAM:  But, knowing Joseph, I know he gave people things, but—and of course I was—as I tell you there were at least four, maybe five people who Joseph had named as trustees and they were all gallery owners.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Why do you think he did that?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I think on the advice of a lawyer.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Was it Richard Ader?

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, Mr. Ader—oh, yes.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  How did Joseph Cornell meet Richard Ader?

MR. WINDHAM:  I think that somebody put him in touch with Greenbaum, Wolff & Ernst, and Mr. Ader was connected to that. When I first got aware of all these people, Greenbaum, Wolff & Ernst it ceased to be.

But I've always remembered it because they were these lawyers or whatever it is that got Ulysses [James Joyce. New York:  Random House, 1934] published in this country so that they—if—let's see, I must—used to have a copy of Ulysses here. I know I've got one somewhere. I think it has a little introduction that says Greenbaum, Wolff & Ernst. Let's see if I can find it. In theory I know where everything is, but I can mainly find nothing. [Pause.] I don't even see Ulysses. It should be here. [Pause.] This is probably it. I forget—I never take these books off—all of them just half an inch deep in dust.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Well, that looks like a—is it a first edition of Ulysses?

MR. WINDHAM:  I think it is; I'm not sure. It's either first edition or an early one.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, my goodness.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, let's see. This is when—I think we bought this in 1955 and it didn't cost $55.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Wow, really?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, you know, books didn't cost anything. I used to—I was very fond of D.H. Lawrence and back in the '50s, you could buy first editions of—$50 would have been an enormously high price for a book and this is—I think this must be what I paid for it or Sandy and I paid—but $55.


MR. WINDHAM:  I guess so. I've got a new theory about the prices of books. You just divide them by 10 because I've got a Eudora Welty up there, it's a first edition and I just saw an ad for it, four thousand something dollars, and I thought $400 would be my highest guess.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Wow, this is a beautiful book.

MR. WINDHAM:  It's a nice book and it's put me—I'll put it back. But it's printed by a very good printer in France. [Pause.] Well, this says who printed it back there, it doesn't say the year. But this is it. It says this edition is limited to 1,000 copies. But anyway, it's—has the date on here somewhere.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Well, your shared interest in your books—Joseph collected books and—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, he didn't collect, he just bought second-hand books, but by the subject, not by any other thing else; usually about ballerinas and dancers.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  More for images in the books or—

MR. WINDHAM:  You know, I've never known about Joseph, what languages he could read. You know, you would think he read French literature, but then I don't think he knew French. But—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  It's interesting you say that because when our director, Chick Austin, bought the Soap Bubble Set in 1938—and he was, you know, buying quite a lot from Julien Levy—he bought personally for himself, it was a book object that Joseph Cornell had made—

MR. WINDHAM:  Oh, yes.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  —and it was an 18th century French book called The History of Modern Times, published in Paris. And then he retrofitted the inside of the book and put—he carved it out and put in sand and rhinestones. But interestingly, he cut out pieces of the text of the book. Since it was a history of modern times, which is kind of a spoof, you know, but published in the late 18th century, he attached the pieces of text to glass, then put them in the interior of the book and made a glass window hole into the book so when you shook it, the sand and the rhinestones and these texts would pop up. And the texts had meanings, I think, the words did. So he played with language—this was very early, he did this book, in, I think it was 1939.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, let me see—as I remember the drawer to this box, it has a number of things he put in it. I won't try to bring it over—come here; I'll show you.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, yeah, I'll come over—well, let's see. Oh, here. Oh, yes, I see.

MR. WINDHAM:  Somebody came here with a child once and they thought this had candy in it, so they grabbed it out and tore it up, trying to get the candy. I don't think it will come out any further.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Isn't that interesting? So he filled the—

MR. WINDHAM:  These are all put here by Joseph, except—this one was put in by Joseph, too, until somebody grabbed it and tore it. See, he put—he used to buy things like this.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So he filled it with letters and—

MR. WINDHAM:  He put all of these things in here. There's nothing in here that I put in except the—this he put in here, too.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, my goodness; that looks like a Cracker Jack something.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, it is probably. I never thought of it exactly as Cracker Jacks, but it's obviously something that—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  It's an Indian?

MR. WINDHAM:  Yes, it's an Indian with a bow and arrow, I think.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Isn't that fascinating?

MR. WINDHAM:  What is that? Oh, that's not part of it. But these things are all that he put in here.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So there's a lot he's filled it with.

MR. WINDHAM:  Oh, yeah. I think at—


MR. WINDHAM:  —one time or another I had all these out of here, but I just put them back the way—they're just loose in here, which is the way he had them.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Isn't that funny? Yeah, that's sort of like the book in a way.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I've seen one of those books. I saw a beautiful book once—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  We should actually probably go back to the microphone and we can talk about these things. This is fascinating.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, his sister, Mrs. Benton, once said she was going to give me a book that Cornell had done.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  But she didn't?

MR. WINDHAM:  Then she said the estate won't allow me to give—


MR. WINDHAM:  Which is probably true. They probably thought she was crazy wanting to give things—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Give things away. So we were just looking at your box and looking at the lower drawer that's filled with letters and a little—it looks like a Cracker Jack candy, a little charm of a pink Indian—

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, it is. It was in that little candy box that's been broken up.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And when Joseph gave you this box, did he explain any of those objects that were in the drawer?

MR. WINDHAM:  No; he never explained, I don't think.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Did he assume you would understand them, you think?

MR. WINDHAM:  He just assumed I would like them.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Yeah, that's interesting.

MR. WINDHAM:  I don't think—you see, I don't think he thought about understanding things. You liked them or you didn't like them.


MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah. I don't think he would have—I think he would have been bewildered by the idea that any of his work needed explanation.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  That's really interesting because for the average person, his work must have seemed—

MR. WINDHAM:  I know, and the average audience thinks that there's profound meanings nobody else is going to get. And he just—I don't think he ever thought that.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Well, you know, we should probably maybe break for lunch because this is going to come to an end soon.


This is Betsy Kornhauser interviewing Donald Windham at 230 Central Park, South in his apartment in New York City. And it's March 12, and this is our second tape.

So right now we are looking at a wonderful postcard that—you had a similar postcard of—

MR. WINDHAM:  I sent him a postcard with two cats on it, and he cut them off, and pasted them on a postcard he had of the same two cats, so that there are four cats here. But this is just before Tennessee's play, A Streetcar Named Desire [1947], opened.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  It opened on Broadway here?

MR. WINDHAM:  It opened on Broadway. And Joseph had seen Tennessee in my office often, and he sent this thing—"P.S.:  One of these cats is named Desire." [They laugh.] It's a joke because cats and cars and—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  He writes over—

MR. WINDHAM:  He made an X through the cats, and—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  It makes it into cars—from cats.

MR. WINDHAM:  —through the cars and then to the cat. And I think this says "T" up there, but I can't see it anymore.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And he put stamps on the back, it looks like, like a Christmas—

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, he did that put that. Well, Christmas, because I think it is around Christmas.


MR. WINDHAM:  It's November-something in '97.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And so you were saying that this kind of symbolizes what you think is best about this art.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I think what I was interested in is that he was delighted that I had the same card he had, and so he collaged it and put it together, and then sent it to me. And I do think it's the basis of Cornell's work, is the delight he took in his liking it and hoping to communicate it to other people. And, of course, I look at this card all of the time, and I think, I can't believe they are the same two cats over and over; they look different. What did he say? He said, one of them is named Desire. And this isn't much before A Streetcar Named Desire. So, see, and he has done that.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Ah, see, he marks over and makes it into cats.

MR. WINDHAM:  And there is a "T" up there, but I can't see it now.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  But it is there.

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, I think so.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Well, we were talking at lunch about—I asked you how well-read you thought Cornell was.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I think was—well, I think what I said was true, is that—because he mentioned something about, sometimes I read a line of a poem, and it moves me so much, and then I won't be moved when I read the whole poem. And I think that is a secret to a lot of his reading, is he did like lines rather than poems.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Like pieces of things.

MR. WINDHAM:  And certainly he had a—for instance, I never realized—I never knew whether he knew French very well or not. He liked French poetry and writings but whether he liked French poems or lines from French poems is hard to tell.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So did he discuss books with you or things like that?

MR. WINDHAM:  He mainly discussed with me things he liked, which were not whole books, I don't think, because he didn't—he didn't talk about whole books; he talked about lines that he liked. And he was very specific what he liked; I mean, it wasn't a generality. I think I tried to write that somewhere. He didn't talk about art; he talked about specific works of art. He liked—I know that he was very enamored of the self-portraits by—I'll say his name in a minute; a German artist, and he didn't like his works in general; he liked specifically—well, why do I get so blank on the names?

MS. KORNHAUSER:  [Laughs] Well, I have the same problem. Was he a 20th-century artist?

MR. WINDHAM:  Oh, yeah, but—I'll say—the minute I don't try to think of something, it will come back to me.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  But you were saying—I mean, to try to turn him into a kind of intellectual is a mistake?

MR. WINDHAM:  I don't think that he—I would say that Cornell was one of the least intellectual people I have ever known. He was always emotional, and of course since we're dealing with art, it's ambiguous for what is emotional and what is intellectual. But he was genuinely moved by things he liked. And a lot of people are not moved at all but by what they like; they just say—and I'm trying to think. It's—why can't I say his name?

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Is he a German Expressionist?

MR. WINDHAM:  It was a German from the late-19th century. Well, I say it—it's one of my peculiarities; when I try to think of something, I think of anything else. I think it's not a rare trait, but it's worse with me in many—[Albrecht] Dürer.



MS. KORNHAUSER:  Dürer, yes.

MR. WINDHAM:  He is very fond of—I think he just knew them in postcards of Dürer's self portraits.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Did he ever talk about a desire to actually travel or did he seem content?

MR. WINDHAM:  I don't think he ever talked about it. I know that he never traveled, and I don't—I don't remember that he ever talked about any desire to travel; it was as though whatever he did completely satisfied him.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So did he seem very content most of the time?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, nobody seems [laughs] very content, but he certainly didn't—he never expressed desires to travel, as far as I can remember. And I think his idea of traveling was to come to Manhattan from Flushing. [They laugh.]

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And you verified that he never stayed over in Manhattan.

MR. WINDHAM:  To my knowledge, he never stayed overnight. He may have, but I—and I think—I know he was friends with Duchamp, but I don't know whether Duchamp had an apartment in New York or anything. I doubt it, frankly, but I don't know.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Did you—what did you think about Cornell's emerging interests in movies and moviemaking?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, he was very fond of movies and he was very—but, again, I think it's a little like—about the books. I think he liked scenes from movies rather than [whole] movies. He was mad for Lauren Bacall. And I don't remember him ever discussing having seen a movie with her, but he certainly liked—I think he even did collages—I don't know that he did any boxes for her; he certainly did some collages for her. And I don't know whether it was her or not, but one of these movie stars, he did a box for her, and they didn't know what it was. They thought, some nut has left this here. And I think she put it under the bed on the floor, which was—which he didn't like when he discovered.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  He was disappointed when that happened?

MR. WINDHAM:  He thought it should have been at least on a shelf or something. But I thought, you know, can you get more intimate than putting it on the bed, right under where you sleep? But—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  [Laughs.] But he was disappointed. Oh, dear.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I don't know whether he was disappointed, because often people complain about things that they are proud of. [Laughs.]


MR. WINDHAM:  So, like, imagine putting it under her bed, but—and then—well, if you're going to sleep in the bed, there it is, a foot or two away from your hand.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  [Laughs.] But did you ever see any of his movies, Cornell's—that he completed?

MR. WINDHAM:  That he made? Well, yes, because—but they were never—they never amounted to anything much. They were mainly—they were made with Rudy Burckhardt, whom I assume is dead too, now. But they mainly amounted to people, actresses he was interested in, walking down the street. They never—there was never much more than that. And in his mind, they were the—he seemed to think he was directly something enormous and interesting, and—well, it did interest him, but it was fragmentary. But maybe that is one of the things about Joseph, is fragments were satisfying to him. Certainly he seemed to like lines of poetry more than he likes poems.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  That is interesting. Well, when we look at your wonderful box over there called Keepsake Parakeet, and he constructed a drawer that opens, and he had filled the drawer with all of this little bits and pieces of letters and—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I think he did that often to boxes. You realize this was in a show called "Aviary," which is the reason he gave it to me because I think he must have it, but I wrote a little announcement. It was not a catalogue or anything; it was just one page. And that was another thing about Joseph. I think I have written about this, but it was a—whenever he made things, the general category he believed in—he felt that they belonged to, were gifts. They were always—and I think I have put it clearly that they were for certain people, but it didn't matter if the people had been dead for 50 years or something. They were still for them because—



MS. KORNHAUSER:  So Cornell had a hard time letting those go and become part of the collection.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I don't think that he ever wanted to sell his work, to let go of it. And that is one of the reasons that we—we got along very well because he would ask me to pick up boxes for him from people, and then he would let me keep them for a month or so, two. And he knew that I enjoyed having them, and knew that he could get them back.

And I remember one of the most astonishing things that ever happened to me related with Joseph was I picked up a box for him, and I had had it for a while. And he had said, somebody is going to pick it up for me and bring it to me. I said, fine. And she was a beautiful young girl who had arrived in a—what is the most expensive car you can take? [Laughs.]

MS. KORNHAUSER:  A Rolls-Royce?

MR. WINDHAM:  Not a Rolls-Royce.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Or a limousine or a Cadillac or—

MR. WINDHAM:  Whatever the most expensive sports cars were—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Jaguar or—

MR. WINDHAM:  Jaguar; that is exactly what I—[they laugh]—and I don't know who I was expecting, but not a beautiful young girl in a Jaguar. But at this time I had lived on Madison Avenue. And that was nice because he was often in that neighborhood. And I remember him coming to see me and, you know, it was a—three or four flights up, and it was a top floor of a brownstone. And that was—even in the late '40s that was a climb for him.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  But he would still come see you.

MR. WINDHAM:  He did come occasionally and—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  There is a bit here about the Guggenheim show in 1967 ["Joseph Cornel." Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. New York. May 4 – June 25, 1967]. Do you remember that, when he had an exhibition at the Guggenheim?

MR. WINDHAM:  At the Guggenheim? I remember that—I am not sure about this, but I don't think he even came to see it.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Just wasn't interested.

MR. WINDHAM:  He was certainly not wanting to be involved in it.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And then a year later, he received an award from Brandeis University [Waltham, MA], and he wouldn't go, and he asked you to go.

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, I went with some woman whose name I have forgotten—was also there, and one of us received it. But he—I don't know what he felt. I think he felt it would be embarrassing to be there to get it, but it was still—he wanted somebody to be there—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  He wanted to get it eventually.

MR. WINDHAM:  To receive it for him. And—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Was that part of his shyness, or—but you said you didn't think he was shy?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, shy is—somehow it's the wrong word because I—he was retiring but not shy.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Yeah, that is a good distinction.

MR. WINDHAM:  And of course he was not—like, if he was going around in Manhattan, he was not dressed inconspicuously. He would have bright outfits and things.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  What did he wear?

MR. WINDHAM:  Oh, I don't know, but bright anything, certainly not things that he bought for the appearance, but just that they were around.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  He didn't take much care or concern about his dress?

MR. WINDHAM:  I don't think he cared about clothes, except he liked to dress up, which was maybe a contradiction, but it's true. But he wasn't—he was full of contradictions. And I'm just lucky that he was—you know, he was already doing the covers for Dance Index before I was at—let's see if I can find it. I think there is a whole volume of Dance Index.


MR. WINDHAM:  It's over here. I mean, I know there is, but whether I can find it or not is another question. Oh, yeah, I think they're all—the ones that are falling apart are probably the ones—[pause.] They're all falling—the more I'm fond of things, the more they fall apart. I think those are the ones. I don't think any of these covers he did. Here is one—it's in here. It's an issue we did on Cornell—oh, I mean, Hans Christian Anderson.

This is the idiot idea that I got all of these things bound thinking that would preserve them forever, and of course the bindings are the first things that fall apart. I don't know whether is somebody there from Joseph or not. [Pause.] Here. September. This is it I think. Yeah—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, look at that.

MR. WINDHAM:  Have you ever seen this—


MR. WINDHAM:  Those frames are all from a cutout by Hans Christian Anderson. That is the kind of non-existent ballet that Cornell put together. And the frame is from the cutouts by Hans Christian Anderson.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So this is dated 1945, the edition on Hans Christian Anderson.

MR. WINDHAM:  But you know, he did all of the—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  I see—so these are all things that he inserted into the frames?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, this is from a cutout by Hans Christian Anderson.


MR. WINDHAM:  And these are all of his ideas of—well, I gather, of scenes from those fairy tells. He did write the text, but I—well, I know he didn't write much text, but he put it together.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So that is really—I mean, your friendship really evolves through working on these.

MR. WINDHAM:  Oh, yeah, because when I first went there, he had already been—he had done the covers for the first two issues, I think. And I didn't know him at all before then. And he had done an issue for a—what was that—those silhouettes. See, that is the whole issue by Cornell.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, I see. And this is so typical of some of the—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, all of that, that is the collage or whatever he would call it.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Hans Christian Anderson with these large owls.

What was it—I mean, a lot of people have written about his fascination with birds and aviaries and—

MR. WINDHAM:  I don't think that is more than anything else. See, these are—those are for Hans Christian Anderson's cutouts. Decoupage I guess is what he would say. But, see, all of these—all of these are Hans Christian Anderson's; not Joseph's.


MR. WINDHAM:  But this is about those four ballerinas that he liked in the mid-19th century.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Which he does boxes of.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I'll tell you something—I have written but, somewhere I know it's recorded because he was very fond of a 19th century dancer named [Fanny] Cerrito. And I was referring to him one day about some remark I had read about her, and he said, "It's not true; she has told me it's not." But of course, she had been—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Dead for a while. [They laugh.]

MR. WINDHAM:  She was mid-19th century.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Do you think—did you—I mean, how did you see him? Did you think that he lived in a kind of fantasy world?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I think what it came down to is that he had no sense of past and present. Everything was present, is the way I looked at it, but it may not be the way he looked at it.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And did that disturb you at all, or did you find that—


MS. KORNHAUSER:  Did that disturb you, or did you find it intriguing?

MR. WINDHAM:  It was just what he was like. Do you see this—


MR. WINDHAM:  Because this was the ballet he was doing. And this is sort of more or less my responsibility because he was doing these silly covers for things he wasn't interested in and I wasn't interested in. And, see, this is a whole issue—that is Hans Christian Anderson—this is the whole issue of things that—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Where he took the cutouts—

MR. WINDHAM:  These are all cut outs by Hans Christian Anderson, not by Joseph. But he did this whole issue. And this is Hans Christian Anderson. And this, I think, is also Anderson. But, oh, it was such fun doing the—it was not to my way of thinking. This wasn't bad; it's an issue that we did on [Marc] Chagall's stage designs. But mainly it was—mainly it was scenes like this; dance annotations or early American dances, and they didn't interest me, and they didn't interest Cornell so—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  But that is what you had said before, that Cornell really pursued things that interested him wherever he found them.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, yes, but also he had to do things to make a living. You know, he did things for a lot of magazines that he had no interest in. He got illustrations for Harper's Bazaar, and places.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  What were some of the other things? I know Cornell sent you cards and letters. I remember once you told me he sent you—it was a drawing, like a—

MR. WINDHAM:  Oh, he sent me a drawing that his brother had done of Lois Smith as—as a—the Swedish Nightingale. What the hell is her name?

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, Jenny Lind.

MR. WINDHAM:  Jenny Lind, yeah. And it's a picture of—well— we'll see—we must go upstairs because I have got a box of his letters. I think it must be in there. But it's supposed to be a drawing that I think Robert did of—I don't think it's—I don't think the drawing is of Lois but it was based on Lois, but it's of the Mouse King watching Lois in the—we'll go up before you leave.


MR. WINDHAM:  Because I know there is a big box of letters from him.


I mean, and you attended, I guess, Cornell's funeral?

MR. WINDHAM:  Yes, I went—we were looking as a gallery, the people who—but he was buried in Nyack, in the local cemetery, and I went up with [Xavier] Fourcade.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  The dealer.

MR. WINDHAM:  Who was—at that time he was—I don't know; he had some of Cornell's estate. And I went with—I think with Lynda Hartigan, too.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, really.

MR. WINDHAM:  Several of us went up. But it was—he is buried in that cemetery, right in the middle of Nyack, and it's on the top of a high hill. And I'm trying to remember—I guess he grew up in Nyack. That is why—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Early on.

MR. WINDHAM:  And I knew various people who lived in Nyack later because Carson McCullers lived there with her mother. But the only reason I can remember—I can think Joseph was buried there was that his family must have had a plot there because they had been there.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Do you think during his lifetime—you knew him for a long time, from 1943 until his death in 1973.

MR. WINDHAM:  '72.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Do you think over the course of his life myths developed about him in the art world?

MR. WINDHAM:  Do I think what?

MS. KORNHAUSER:  That myths developed around him?

MR. WINDHAM:  I have a feeling that is—if so, it would be right at the very end of his life. But I don't think so. Certainly I don't think he was aware of it, but he was aware at the end of his life that his work was valuable in the sense of valuable in those days, you know, like a few hundred dollars or something rather than a few thousand. But, you know, when I bought the Pink Palace, or something—Sandy bought it, I think—it was under a hundred dollars.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And you were his friend so he probably gave you a better price?

MR. WINDHAM:  He never charged much for anybody even if he had—and I don't think he liked dealing with dealers. He certainly didn't—he certainly wouldn't go through a dealer for his own profit because really what he cared about was to have the works in the hands of people who would like them. So he was not—he was not, for instance, as far as I know, interested in the Bergmans [Lindy and Edwin Bergman], is it, who—in Chicago who had a lot of these boxes.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And their collection's at the Chicago Art Institute. He wasn't—he didn't care about that.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, as far as I know he didn't. Nobody is indifferent to having their work collected by people who care about it, but I don't think it—I don't think it changed his attitude in any way.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Well, we touched on this before, but it's kind of interesting—I mean, because his art—his boxes and his collages—they are complicated and they are filled with ideas. I mean, did he ever attempt to explain how intricate they were to—

MR. WINDHAM:  I don't think so. I think—I don't even think he thought they were intricate; I think he thought they were conserving things he was interested in. But to say that he made them for himself is kind of misleading, but I think it's true. I don't think he ever made anything thinking, oh, there is a market for this. He may have done that with something like the Pink Palace, where he said that one had sold for a lot of money, so he would do a—a lot of money being a couple of hundred dollars at most then.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So he would do—he would do replicas—different versions.

MR. WINDHAM:  Not exactly replicas, but the same subject again.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Pursue it as a series?

MR. WINDHAM:  And you never would do it as though it were—[inaudible]—they were just—he was just doing it.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  You had touched on—in your writings—the distinction between his boxes and his collages, which he started doing later.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, this I may have—this is my opinion—he never said it, but I think it was—I think they were based on the fact that he really did like to give things away, and the boxes had become valuable. But certainly he never said to me that is why he did the collages. And, of course, early on people didn't want the collages because they thought we want the boxes. [Laughs] And, of course, I don't know what the boxes sell for now. But I think even from the time he died, it was only a couple of hundred dollars.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  They have gone way up.

I just had a question that's gone out of my head—one that I had filed. Oh, I know. The whole idea of the box—I think in something I read, that maybe that you wrote or someone else—that he in some ways felt that the box form was his, that he kind of owned that.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I don't know that I remember writing that, but certainly nobody else did it in those days. I think the—I think the box idea was—I don't—because I wasn't around for the early '40s, so he may have seen these things at the—with the gallery he first showed in.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Julien Levy.

MR. WINDHAM:  Julien Levy.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  With some of the Surrealists or—

MR. WINDHAM:  But he may have seen things like that there, but I am not aware of anyone else who was doing them.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Did he ever talk about that, as—like, the idea of the box as his own?

MR. WINDHAM:  No, I don't think he ever—I just took it for granted; that is what he did. Because when I first knew his work, it wasn't when he was first doing it because I remember when I became aware of it; I was going to see the boxes of his that were Peggy Guggenheim's. And she had something called Art of this Century. It was on 57th Street, and he did have a—maybe it was her ex-husband or her ex-father of some of her children—someone named Laurence Vail, and I think the first time I went, there was a show of half Vail and half Cornell—[laughs]—and it was the kind of thing that was apt to do then. I mean, they—I don't think—maybe it was her habit, but I don't think she thought Cornell was worth giving a show to by himself, but she—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  A one-man show.

MR. WINDHAM:  She may have always done those.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Do you remember what he called them?

MR. WINDHAM:  He called them boxes I think. Would you pick—if I can remember, he would say, would I pick up one of his boxes for him.

And he did not like having dealers; I don't know why. I have a feeling he—I have a feeling he always felt they were taking advantage, that they would sell them for a great deal more than he got out of it, which is quite easy to resent when you're—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Yeah. Huh. That is interesting.

MR. WINDHAM:  But I tried to think what galleries he had to do with, and the ones I really remember are the ones that Peggy Guggenheim had, but I don't remember that she had them in New York. Maybe she did.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Do you—oh, sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt you.

MR. WINDHAM:  She just had a gallery called Art of this Century.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And Levy really launched him early on. There was this question at the time of his death, where—because he had accumulated—the Smithsonian now has, as you know, the Joseph Cornell archive.

MR. WINDHAM:  I don't know, but I know it exists.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  I guess they took from his house all of his collections, that were boxes filled with similar items and sort of all of the massive amount of objects that he collected were in the house at the time. And there was some suggestion that after his death, some people got their hands on some of these things, and they were partially completed boxes that got completed by other people and entered the marketplace. Do you remember any stories?

MR. WINDHAM:  I don't know it because I was not a trustee then. I was—you know, I was something —a second or third alternate trustee. And the early trustees that he had—I'm not going to say who they were, but they were all gallery owners, and I tell you who might know exactly about this if you want to bother with it, is Mr. Ader.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Richard Ader.

MR. WINDHAM:  Because he was the lawyer who made it—he was part of Greenbaum, Wolff & Ernst. And I think he is probably the man who got Cornell to make a will, because I don't know who sent Cornell to him, but I think that is the first time that Cornell bothered to make a will or anything. And then I'm trying to think, that would be—it would be a year or two before his death; I don't think much earlier than that.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  I was also curious about the way Cornell wanted his boxes to be displayed when he did do the shows. Did he get very involved in that, the few shows that he had?

MR. WINDHAM:  I don't particularly think he did with the gallery, but, you know, most of the early years that I knew him, he didn't have a gallery; he—but he would have the boxes in the studios of people he knew. Ernst, I think his name is—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Oh, that is the Ernst—

MR. WINDHAM:  And there were people who had studios, showing their own work, and he would leave boxes there. And I wish I—I probably have them somewhere, but he would send me a note saying there is something you might want to see in this place or that. [Laughs.]

MS. KORNHAUSER:  And they would just be randomly—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I would know what he meant—[laughs]—but Ernst Beadle I think was his name. And he had a—there were people like photographers who had studios of their own. And he used to also—there was a magazine called View. Did you ever see—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Yes, yes.

MR. WINDHAM:  —copies of it? And he left—they had his things there some time. And I had Charles Henri Ford read it. Incidentally, I don't know if you want to bother, but Ruth Ford is still alive and she is still living the Dakota, and I think she has an apartment full of [Pavel] Tchelitchew.


MR. WINDHAM:  But whether she has Cornells or not, I don't know.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  That is an interesting—

MR. WINDHAM:  But I do know—I know who would know that is my friend Jeff Peabody, who is part of the Matthew Marks Gallery, because he has been up there to her apartment because I think they were looking for Tchelitchew to sell.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  I think that market is starting to—that market for Tchelitchew is starting to—shortly after he died, the works were worth nothing. I have a feeling everything is worth a fortune now. Well, it's—I think the Whitney [Museum of American Art, New York, NY] is about to do a small show on Tchelitchew; it's all part of Kirstein's ["Lincoln Kirstein." April 25 – August 17, 2007].

Did Cornell know any of the neo-romantics like Tchelitchew? Did he know them?

MR. WINDHAM:  I think he knew them. He certainly knew Tchelitchew, but I don't think they were friends. You know, it's quite interesting. To my knowledge, and I think I'm accurate, Kirstein never even considered buying anything by Cornell. He certainly didn't own anything by him.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  I wonder why.

MR. WINDHAM:  I don't know, but I do know Lincoln had a secretary named Dorris Fisch [ph], and I had to deal with her quite often because she paid all of the bills for Dance Index, and she—Joseph would give her presents but he never had anything to do with Lincoln. I mean, it's not—Lincoln didn't deal—well, Lincoln was probably already in the army then, but was still—I know that Cornell gave little gifts to Dorris Fisch, and he never—to my knowledge, never gave anything to Lincoln. Certainly Lincoln never bought anything of Cornell's. He never—I don't think he—I don't think he ever had anything of Cornell. And it's quite strange because I don't think that is unusual. I think the art world just didn't think Cornell was a serious artist.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Really. But he saw an audience in this kind of modest way, as you mentioned, where he would place his boxes—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, he liked an audience, but I don't think it was particularly the art world that he wanted it in. It was—I don't know, it was like he—he was interested in people who would be interested in his work, and they were not—they were artists, but they weren't dealers, because, you know, people I knew like Fritz Bultman, and all. Trying to think. Once he had a show—I think it was called Hugo Gallery, and Fritz and Joseph had a show there at the same time. And it was a very small gallery run by an absolute crook, I think, but galleries often are. [They laugh.]

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Did you feel that Joseph Cornell was vulnerable in the larger world?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, he certainly didn't want anything to do with the art world, and he did not—he did not like dealers. And I don't know whether that is because he thought the—he didn't think of himself as a commercial object, and that is all they thought of him as.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Did he care about gaining the attention of art museums?

MR. WINDHAM:  Did he what?

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Care about gaining attention from art museums, like the Atheneum bought his Soap Bubble Set.

MR. WINDHAM:  I don't—certainly he would have been pleased, but I don't think it made him want to have more of the same thing, because I don't why the Atheneum—that had been in a show at the Museum of Modern Art. That is all I know, and that it got attention.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Well Chick Austin had a—our director at the time had an amazing eye, and he was interested in—

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, but I don't think other museums followed—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  No, I don't think so; I think you are right. Well, we have letters in our archive from Joseph Cornell. He would write to Chick Austin and he would come by train to visit the box, and he called it his first born because it was—so he kind of cared about how we were taking care of it.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, he very much cared about the things he had made. Whether he cared about getting them into the hands of people who would care about it, I don't know. He obviously did, but I don't think his mind worked in the way dealers and gallery—I mean, dealers and museums, did.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Did he ever talk about the condition of his boxes and how they should be cared for?

MR. WINDHAM:  Yes, but that is a little tricky subject. Once he complained to me—one of the boxes I had, maybe—just the glass was dirty on the inside. And I said, well, what am I supposed to do about that? "Well, you're supposed to take the top off and take the glass out and clean it." [They laugh.] It never occurred to me to have to dismantle all of his boxes. But his idea was that they are household objects. You should not treat them like vulnerable objects of art. You just treat them like whatever you have in your house. And he did, I know, specifically say to me that—probably it was this box because it was one that I remember he gave me. But I think his other two—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  The Keepsake Parakeet.

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah, but I think his attitude was, well, not really; you should take the top off and clean the inside of the glass.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Did he worry ever that the way he had arranged the objects in a box might be disrupted or—

MR. WINDHAM:  I don't think that that bothered him at all because I don't think he thought of them—well, he thought of them as part of life; not a part of commercial object. And I'm trying to remember—he probably came here once after I moved here, but I'm not sure.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  To this apartment.

MR. WINDHAM:  Yeah. Because he died I think in '72. I'm not sure. And I moved here at the end of the '60s. And I knew once he came and we had an idiot doorman at that time. He was German and he didn't speak very good English. And this stayed in my mind because Joseph was downstairs waiting to come see me, and the doorman was saying, either that I wasn't here or that no such person lived here, and they sent him away.


MR. WINDHAM:  And that was the last time I would have seen him because I know he was very fond then of my friend Lois Smith, and mainly because she had a daughter the age that he—and—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  How old was the daughter?

MR. WINDHAM:  Oh, under 10, anyway. And I think she has—I think Lois has a nice collage from him, not a box, but a collage. If you haven't been to—in touch with her you—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Yeah, I should visit her.

MR. WINDHAM:  She lives in Manhattan anyway, and her daughter, Moon, lives in Philadelphia.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So did he like all young children, or particularly young girls?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I think it was mainly young girls. I never heard of him being intrigued with anybody—young male, but mainly the—Joseph liking people mainly consisted of his wanting to give them things.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Yeah, that is sweet. So did you think he was a really kind person?

MR. WINDHAM:  He is what?



MS. KORNHAUSER:  And sweet. Or was he more complicated?

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, he was complicated, but I think he was kind. I don't remember any unkind things about him, but he did not think of his art as being something that he had to be—had to be careful about who he gave it to. He would—he wanted to give it to people who would like it. And basically—and whom he liked. I tell you, I think I have told you about it or written about it, but he wanted to give something to Tanaquil LeClercq, is the one I can remember. And his system was—say to me—he would give it to me, and I should hang it, and if they—and if Tanaquil saw it and liked it, I should give it to her and otherwise it would be mine. [Laughs.] Naturally—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So you were a kind of go-between for—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, a go-between, but naturally, I just—I had no intention of keeping anything, but I think Lois must have a couple of collages now. She has them. And of course at that time, her daughter who is—must be in her late 30s by now was still under 10 or something.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So that interested him. Did he like to give his art to these young—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I think I have even written that, that he always thought of it as gifts. I don't think—I think—I don't say that he disliked selling them, but I don't think he was interested in selling them. He wanted them to be liked.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Well, we are, believe it or not, coming toward the end of this tape. So I wonder if there is anything else about Cornell that you remember that you think would be valuable—because he does still seem to boast—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, he was surprised at the end of his life that his objects were worth a lot of money because I remember one of his sisters was upset because they lived somewhere on Long Island, and the lot next to them had been turned into a tennis club or something, and they didn't like that, and Joseph said to his sister, well, why didn't you tell me; I would have bought it for you, and her reply was—he told me about—was, with what? [Laughs.] But it was that—it was—I don't know what to say that is different to him, but his sister didn't know that his works were selling for—with which—this is back in the '50s or '60s—but anyway—expensive art then was a few hundred dollars—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  So he wasn't sharing this with his sisters.

MR. NEGROPONTE:  Well, he certainly was sharing whatever there was to share, but he wasn't sharing with them the knowledge that his work was getting more valuable, and of course, I'm trying to remember now—I should know, but I don't think he had a regular dealer then; I don't think he had a gallery that handled his work. Egan is the last one I can remember, and that would be '49, so that would be 10 years at least before he died.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  But he did seem to make some preparation as Richard Ader encouraged him to do or—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, he made the will, but I think that is—I think that is several—a decade later that I'm talking about. I don't know when he—someone would know—Mr. Ader would know when he got in touch with Greenbaum, Wolff & Ernst, but it wouldn't be that Mr. Ader sent him there because that was where Mr. Ader was. But probably some dealer told him he should have—but I don't know what dealers he was dealing with then. I don't think Peggy—I don't know when Peggy Guggenheim got all of those things while Joseph was alive or not. I know that she—when I was aware of her having a lot of Cornell boxes, it was after he was dead. And I wonder where they are all know. I think that maybe the Guggenheim got them.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Some are in Venice still—I remember seeing them—

MR. WINDHAM:  She was not friendly with that portion of her family, but I think that didn't matter. But I'm not sure—I'm not sure when she died, but—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Well this tape is coming to an end, so maybe—

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, I don't know if there is much else.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  I think we have covered—your memories of him have been—I mean, you must have been one of his closest friends over a long period of time.

MR. WINDHAM:  Well, we were friends for a long time, and as I say, I don't know that he was—I wouldn't say that he was secretive, but he—I wouldn't have—the only person that I really know he was friendly with was Duchamp, I mean, of the art world, and they—I think they were mutual admiration society, but—

MS. KORNHAUSER:  But not many other artists.

MR. WINDHAM:  I don't know other artists. That is the only one. I know he liked Duchamp's work very much and I know Duchamp liked his work, and I—the person who would know about it but who may not be very helpful is Mr. Ader.

MS. KORNHAUSER:  Right, right. Well, why don't we wrap this up?


How to Use This Collection

Transcript is available on the Archives of American Art's website.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Donald Windham, 2007 March 12. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.