Size: 70 Pages, Transcript
Format: Originally recorded on 2 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hrs., 17 min.
Summary: Interview of James Lechay, conducted by Robert F. Brown for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution at Lechay's home in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, on July 9-Aug. 26, 1998.
Lechay speaks of his early childhood in the Bronx, N.Y.; copying paintings at the Metropolitan Museum under the tutelage of his elder brother Myron; discontinuing his study of psychology at the University of Illinois in 1929 to return to NYC to paint; taking odd jobs to counter his extreme poverty in the early 1930s; his first exhibition at Another Place (1936), a gallery run by De Hirsh Margules; praise from David Siqueiros, the Mexican muralist; his first trip to Provincetown (1930); exhibiting several times at the Whitney Museum (and others) but not at MoMA; touring NYC galleries on Fridays; meeting Marsden Hartley and Alfred Stieglitz; his friendship with Arshile Gorky; serving as a juror for the 1940s Momentum exhibition with Jackson Pollock and Max Weber; teaching at the University of Iowa in 1945, succeeding Philip Guston; his luck in having, since 1935, a New York dealer; his work as self-referential; being repelled by art fashions and not compromising his work in order to sell; the appearance of simplicity in his work. Lechay also recalls Raphael and Moses Soyer, Abraham Walkowitz, and others.