JEAN CHARLOT, 1960–1979




Edited by John Charlot and Janine Richardson



1.             Introduction

Jean Charlot: Interviews with John Charlot has been posted on the web site of the Jean Charlot Foundation (  The notes posted here are records of conversations written by hand on cards and sheets.  The original manuscripts are in the Jean Charlot Collection, Hamilton Library, University of Hawa‘i at Mānoa.  Most of the notes were made either during or shortly after the conversations.  All of the cards and most of the sheets were written while Charlot was alive.  Some were made long after as memories arose.  The dates make clear which are which.  The dates are usually of the conversation itself and sometimes of its recording, as with all the postmortem dates. 

In editing, I have tried to keep the character of the notes rather than smoothing them into regular prose.  I used quotation marks only when I could remember the exact words.  In several cases, I note that the exact words have been recorded.  I also note when I myself am the source of a key word.  At times, I had difficulty reconstructing the sense of my notes, but I have preferred to omit them or leave them unclear rather than impose an unsure meaning. 

In the longer notes, I have tried to keep the wandering character of the conversation, rarely breaking up such notes into topics.  This results in overlapping entries and the scattering of topics, so the reader should use the search function for particular interests.  

In this final editing, I have organized by Charlot’s chronology––France, Mexico, the United States, and Hawai‘i and the Pacific––and by topics, within which entries have been listed generally by date of notation.  The last section is a selection of entries that provide an impression of Charlot’s life as he approached his death. 

In the entries, Charlot is talking unless otherwise noted.  My comments are in brackets.  Naturally, I could have misunderstood him at times.  The following persons are mentioned by initials or first names:

DZC = Dorothy Zohmah Charlot, Charlot’s wife

Ann = Ann Charlot, Charlot’s daughter and oldest child

Martin = Charlot’s second son

Peter = Charlot’s third son 

Kekoa = Martin’s eldest son

All the writings of Jean Charlot mentioned here have been posted on the web site of the Jean Charlot Foundation: 

2.             BIOGRAPHICAL


2.1.         FRANCE



Undated, ca. 1972
Art collecting in JC’s family

JC had an uncle [?] who collected CarriŹre rather than Gauguin. 





JC was pro-Gallican on some points, such as French saints in calendar as against Rome’s imposing Latin saints. 




December 9, 1970
France and Mexico

As a child, JC met followers of Díaz in exile, cientificos.  They all had large mutton chops.  JC’s uncle was a second in the duel of one of them. 

All JC’s relatives in Mexico were porfiristas.  One had had the famous Mexico City pharmacy, La Droguería de la Profesa.  




April 23, 1971
Youth in France

He said that at a big family dinner of some twenty people, his uncle (?) wanted to show them how Mexican people ate, so he brought one avocado.  It cost five francs in France then.  He cut the avocado into little cubes and passed them around.  They all said it was good.




February 12, 1972
Auguste Génin and PoŹmes AztŹques[1]

Génin was a friend of the Mexican family.  He thought of marrying JC’s mother; thus the tender dedication to her in her copy of PoŹmes AztŹques.

JC thought the poems were a little windy when he read them around eleven or twelve years old.

Génin was the head of the French Chamber of Commerce when JC and his mother went to Mexico.  They didn’t see much of him.  Both JC’s mother and Génin found that they had changed (they’d known each other in 1890).  The physical changes were considerable, but a sweet memory.  He was a businessman, fat and bald.

Génin’s prose foreword interested JC.  He can’t remember what it was, but something in it made JC prick up his ears.

Génin was a friend of true archeologists in Mexico, so he had accurate information.



Désiré Charnay

Charnay was the hinge for proper archeology in Mexico.  Others wanted Egypt or the Jews as the source of Mexican cultures.  Charnay was against that and suggested dates that were too modern.  But he was a field archeologist. 

In Paris, JC’s family saw him every weekend.  He told magnificent stories, better even than those in his book.[2]

JC read the book when he was very young.  He loved the frontispiece with Charnay dressed in a loincloth in the jungle.




February 12, 1972
EugŹne Boban and Aztec literature

When JC was eleven or twelve years old, he knew EugŹne Boban.  He was very interesting, very learned.  He did the book as a job.[3]  It had been his collection, and he sold it to EugŹne Goupil when Goupil gave him the job of cataloguer.  When JC met him in France, he was very old and working on prehistoric art.  He was surrounded by it.  He was working on engraved stones.  JC visited him with Charnay and heard them together.  JC read parts of Boban’s text when he was young, but used the Atlas a lot. 

JC did a Life of Napoleon in the style of Aztec historical codices about 1911–1913.  This was before he had seen the originals.  He did it from the Atlas, which had large photographs.  These were good for the sheets of codices because they were large scale.

JC got Sahagún in Mexico at the time he was doing the walls.  It was given to him by the Archeological Museum.  They asked, “Do you want that?”  JC said “Sure.”  So they gave it to him.  They must have known he couldn’t pay for it.[4] 




March 4, 1972
Désiré Charnay

Charnay brought back casts which he had made in Mexico that were very good.  At the end of his life, he stopped going into the field.  He became interested in microbes and wrote a booklet on them.  People criticized the booklet because he said that the greatest intelligence (the secret of the world) gets into the smallest particles of creation.

JC saw a picture of a cargador or “burden bearer” on page 12 of Anciennes Villes. The cargador illustration is a drawing by Édouard Riou[5] after a photograph.  The drawing was probably done from a good photograph, like those taken in the 1860s of which JC has an album.[6]  He also looked at the curios in his father’s collection.

JC read Anciennes Villes all the way through.  He was interested in the tomb where his whistle had been found.  It’s the same tomb as the dog on wheels, page 143.[7]

Charnay lived in an almost neighboring apartment in Paris.  He would come often to Sunday family dinners at JC’s grandfather’s.  They really grew close. 

In MMR, JC says that he compared Mexican Indian architecture and the Mexican glyph for house with Cubist drawings of houses.[8]




March 6, 1972
Désiré Charnay

Charnay told great stories.  For example, one of his great exploits was climbing to the top of Popocatepetl with his pet parrot on his wrist.  Turning to go down, he made a false step and rolled all the way to the bottom of the volcano.  When he stopped, he found his parrot was still perched on his wrist.




Undated, ca. 1972
Martin on JC

JC told him that he and his sister rode bicycles between the trees at Poissy and liked it.  JC remembers being in parks as a kid with his nurse.




Several times

JC remembers the old gaslights they used when he was young.  One could vary the intensity of the light, an advantage over electricity.  There was a pretty prism of colors in the glass or crystal base of the lamp.




Late September or early October 1976
Children’s art, “point of view,” Barye sculpture

I told JC he’d written somewhere that children’s art must be thought of as separate from an adult’s art, that they were two very different things.  But I thought that wasn’t the case in JC’s own work, that his children’s work was very much connected to his late work.  He said he couldn’t remember that locus and wouldn’t agree with the position as I had stated it.

Then he said that it’s so hard for us to realize how things look from the child’s point of view.  For instance, the Barye horse in Ann’s room looks like a small piece of sculpture now, but he remembers looking up at it on a table as a child: the belly swelled out enormously, and it looked as big as a real horse.

I said that reminded me of a passage in his unpublished paper “Point of View” when he speaks of men playing billiards.  At first he couldn’t see the balls, but as he grew, he could look over the top and see them.  He said he remembered that.  It was the billiard room of their country house.




February 17, 1972
Earliest 1902 drawings

JC was more impressed by the bottle on the table than by the running ostrich.  The former reminded him of Morandi.  [JC later said that he meant that he was really looking at the bottle.]  

Add Gris to André Lhote and Jean Metzinger as people JC was near to in the second generation of Cubists.




Early 1970s
On JC’s “Notes pour un Catalogue Raisonné des Manuscrits Anciens Préhispaniques ą la Collection Aubin-Goupil ą la BibliothŹque Nationale, Paris,” in two parts[9]  

JC did the first part, looking at maps in the manuscript department of the BibliothŹque Nationale.  He had notes at his side and added to them.  “The manuscript was small because I was carrying it in my pocket.” 

All the drawings in the notebook are from the originals; none are from the Atlas.  The second and last part of the notebook is just copying from other works. 

The catalogue raisonné mentioned was to have been of the Prehispanic codices in the Goupil collection and was to have had different sources.  Some would have been from the 1840 book of Henri Ternaux-Compans.[10]  

The separations of names into separate words and meanings are from JC—he was probably just looking at the drawings.




August 14, 1976
JC’s early interest in Le Douanier Rousseau

JC said that when he went to the lower school at Condorcet, he passed by an art shop that had Rousseau’s works and changed them in the window.  JC was very impressed, especially by the one of Rousseau in his uniform.

JC took some of his early things to the shop owner, who said they were good and encouraged JC to continue painting.

JC said also that he’d continued to have the Grandma Moses view of Rousseau, but changed after he saw a painting in America in which lots of compositional problems had been attacked and solved.[11]




February 12, 1972

Doing illustrations as marginalia is an old idea: e.g., Maximilian’s Bible by Dürer, Cranach, etc.  Two famous eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English booksellers and experts insisted that a great book shouldn’t be tampered with.  They were against the idea of adding.

[The point seems to be that marginal manuscript illustrations were an old idea that was put out of favor by people who thought it ruined the esthetics of the typography.]




February 11, 1972
Book illustrations

Jean Adhémar discusses the business of  original illustrations in margins of books.[12]  JC says it was a whole movement to beautify books.  He saw some exhibitions with watercolor illustrations in the margins.  It certainly influenced him.




Color printing when young

A neighbor was printing color separations and brought them to the house.  This was very early in JC’s childhood.[13] 





Merle Armitage was against using the word chromolithographs, but JC favored the word and insisted it be used in the title for Picture Book.[14]  Kistler was in tears because he said the word meant bad art.  But JC said that’s what it was [that is, a color lithograph].

Chromolithograph was shortened to chromo: a full-color lithograph reproducing a work of art.  An oleograph was a chromolithograph varnished to look like an oil lithograph. 

Maurice Denis and others did simple drawing on stone with lots of paper showing.  Their prints look more like drawings.




Undated, early 1970s

The too pretty colors of the art lithographs of Maurice Denis caused a negative reaction in JC and turned him to oleographs (not in the sense of the technical term but in that of the style of full color).[15]




February 12, 1972
Woodblock techniques 

JC liked tone-blocks—woodblocks cut against the grain with a comb: bois de bout.  JC’s early woodblocks are bois de fil, cut with a simple knife along the grain.

JC took them for granted in France.  Then others had a reaction against them.  JC never saw why.  He was very interested in and positive about them when he was doing Picture Book.

JC’s self-portrait with a hat is a wood engraving as is the other head with heavy shadows.[16]  JC doesn’t like it, but Peter Morse does.

In the nineteenth century, Gustave Doré and Gavarni drew on the wood, but it was cut by someone else. 

JC was never wholeheartedly for the Nabis, as Jean Adhémar is.




February 12, 1972
JC’s early woodblock style

Why did JC use such a heavy woody style in his woodblocks?

Marguerite Huré was already working with stained glass—she restored cathedral windows.  So she thought in those terms, which is rather rough and tough.

JC’s style was more likely from the simplicity of his tools and the quality of the cigar box wood.[17]




February 12, 1972
Marguerite Huré

JC went to see Huré the last time he was in Paris in 1968.  It was a large studio with rolls of stained glass windows around.  She was in bed or on the balcony.  JC heard her voice, but her young friend wouldn’t let JC see her.  He never corresponded with her after he left Paris in 1921.[18]  DZC felt he should have identified himself more clearly; she was sure Huré would have been happy to see him. 

Huré spent her life repairing cathedral windows.  JC didn’t know what she did later on.  She was already doing stained glass in 1917.

After the war, he had only one casual visit at her studio.  In 1919, when he returned from the war, she had a large studio with many helpers.[19]

He didn’t see her when he came back from Mexico the first time, so the whole contact was from before he went into the army.

Like school friends.  Sometimes one goes on seeing them, sometimes not.




March 4, 1972
Paul Beaudouin’s book[20] and fresco

Rivera had the 1910 edition, which had an appendix on encaustic.  Rivera used the book for the encaustic technique; JC read it for fresco.

JC: “I had probably read it before going to Mexico.  I had wanted to work in fresco and was going to put in fresco in the parish church.  I probably studied fresco for that project.  But Marcel-Lenoir is the real beginning here.  Through him, I got the desire to do fresco.”

There was an École de Fontainebleau de fresque around 1910, Beaudouin was teaching, 

“I was studying in the BibliothŹque des Arts Décoratifs.  They had a lot on techniques, and it was probably there that I learned about fresco.”




Early April 1978
Early acquaintance with modern architecture

JC remembers talking with people in France about Auguste Perret (1874–1954), the first architect to use apparent cement.  Perret’s daughter married Paul Claudel.




Undated, early 1970s
World War I posters

At the beginning of the war, JC started collecting the war posters.[21]




July 14, 1971
World War I

They were on retreat, and all the officers were very discouraged.  So he and his friends invented a message saying that the German offensive had been stopped and that the French were advancing on other fronts.  The officers were beaming with happiness for days.  Then they were surprised when the Germans arrived.[22]




Undated, early 1970s
Occupation of Germany

When in Strasbourg, he went with friends to a section marked La Petite France in their guides.  They were shocked, offended, and amused that it was the red light district.




December 2, 1976
Jean Cocteau’s Thomas l’Imposteur[23]

When I started studying French in the early 1950s, I asked JC what I should read.  He suggested this book for style.  I was surprised because I knew he didn’t admire Cocteau. 




July 19, 1971

JC likes Severini: two beautiful still lifes at the Academy.  Perfect period.

JC read Jean Metzinger’s book when young.[24] 

Rivera’s Italian sketches show transition [from Cubism towards the style he developed in Mexico]. 




February 1972
Cubists’ books on Cubism

JC bought Albert Gleizes’s Du Cubisme et des moyens de le comprendre in France between his two trips to Mexico in 1921.  He found Du “Cubisme” by Gleizes and Metzinger in Mexico.[25] 




March 2, 1972
JC and Cubists

I said to JC that the early books by Cubists are different from what later people said about them: they see themselves as working from the tradition of David and Ingres.  JC: “That’s why I’m still a Cubist in a way, because they were the most reasonable.”




February 3, 1972

I wondered whether JC’s Nude and Bullet were ahead of their time.

JC: “John, you bother me with your remarks.  I’ve been looking at dates and am having trouble finding things earlier.  Of course I’m not the inventor of Cubism.  But perhaps, while I was doing it, I was neck and neck with other things being done.  I find the things I like are around 1921 and later, which is after Nude.  I was more influenced by Purism probably than Cubism proper.”




February 18, 1972
His Cubist Nude and Bullet

His Cubist influences were not so much Picasso and the first generation, but Metzinger and Lhote.  He knew their works directly. 

JC doesn’t think he was an innovator.  He did those works very easily.  Mostly things in the air.

The difference between Bullet and other Cubist works is the element of storytelling.




July 19, 1971
Cubism’s mural tendency

Cubism was shrunk by dealers, who couldn’t sell big canvases.  Gradually the Cubists did what their dealers wanted them to.  Rivera’s dealer set the price by centimeters of painting.




May 30 or 31, 1971

It’s not true that there are fewer artists or writers in France.  The French are just more ruthless about suppressing the secondary ones.




Several times
Claudel’s humor

JC talked often about the fact that critics don’t like Claudel’s humor, e.g., “poil de crapeau.”




2.2.         MEXICO




Mid-August 1976
S. J. Freedberg’s Painting in Italy, 1500–1600[26] and the Mexican Mural Renaissance

He said the author knows stuff, but misses things that interest JC, like Raphael’s Transfiguration.  The author talks about the different moods of the upper and lower painting, but misses the little archaic style mountain that joins the two.

I said that was a really great century.  JC said: What was really great was the twenty to thirty years at the beginning—after that, they were just feeding off that early period.  This was like the Mexican Mural Renaissance.[27]




April 22, 1977
Francisco Pacheco’s Art of Painting[28] and San Carlos

When JC visited the Academy of San Carlos, he asked if they had the Pacheco book.  They said, “Certainly” and brought him the original edition, which had just been set on one of their shelves.  JC said he’d been sorely tempted to “lose” it.




June 19, 1971
José Vasconcelos

Now Vasconcelos is on top, but JC was the first to give him full credit for his role in the Mexican Renaissance.  Also one of the first to recognize his all-round importance.




September 1971
D. H. Lawrence

JC found him a cipher.  So English.  JC hated the little men around him.  Lawrence had a beard that he stuck in a wide collar that hung loosely in front of him.

Edward Weston didn’t like him very much when he did his portrait.

Tina Modotti had heard that he was supposed to be the sexiest man in the world.  She kept looking at him this way and that, but she just couldn’t see it. 




July 1978
JC on Spanish language

JC thinks Mexican pronunciation is older than that in Spain today: “When you read Don Quixote with Mexican pronunciation, it’s really beautiful.”




February 15, 1972
Saturnino Herrán’s Los Dioses

Keen calls it the first great post-Revolutionary painting.

JC: “I didn’t know it at the time.  I saw a reproduction some time later.  It was a brave painting for the time.  Diego copied it exactly for one of his frescoes: a Christ with a machine behind.  Why would it have any influence on me?”




July 8-9, 1971

She was an important person.  She was the basis of Memoirs of Milpa Alta.[29]  Luz did the Náhuatl part.

She was also the basis of Anita Brenner’s The Boy Who Could Do Anything.[30]  Brenner just wrote down the stories Luz told her.




Undated, mid-1970s

Siqueiros’ Vida Americana manifesto was directed against Beardsley-style art, and Beardsley was an influence on the “Nationalists,” Best-Maugard, etc.




June 19, 1971
Walter Pach in Mexico

When Pach visited Mexico in 1922, he was really worried that JC wasn’t in the mainstream and suggested various Paris art journals he could read to be in the know.




Undated, mid-1970s?
Manuel Rodríguez Lozano’s role

Lozano made the concept of fine arts survive, vs. art for the people.  The second generation of easel painters comes from him.



Early 1970s?
Lozano, Ángel, and Diego Rivera

Lozano was homosexual and lived with Abraham Ángel.  Rivera wrote a horrible, brutal, double-entendre note about Angel on his death.[31]




June 19, 1971
Art and talking

JC couldn’t understand how the Paris school could have spent so much time sitting around discussing art.  JC said he couldn’t have painted if he’d been doing all that.  Artmaking and art-discussing are two separate compartments.

He thought it was funny when I told him the New York abstractionists discussed, “When is a painting finished?”[32]





In the early mural movement, JC didn’t give lectures.  Mostly painters came and watched him at work on his first fresco.  Also he knew a lot of the history of art, and that interested them.

Rivera was much more systematic.  He would do diagrams of compositions and how to compose in architecture.




December 6, 1978

Robert Barlow taught JC Náhuatl at the School of Anthropology in Mexico City.  Luz was one of the informants.  Barlow committed suicide.  He was expecting some Otomís and left a note for them in their language on his door saying he wasn’t there.  JC: “Nice soaking into the language.”  Like Maximilian saying something very Mexican, “Hombres,” when the first volley of the firing squad failed to kill him and he was about to receive the coup de grČce.  He probably meant, “Hombres! How could you miss me?”  


JC being open to other religions.  “I had no choice.  That was what was around” in the family.  His openness to other cultures and religions came from his mixed family background.

When JC was six years old, his Mexican-Jewish grandmother would lapse into Spanish.  She once exclaimed, “Jesús, José, Maria!”  JC’s mother and his grandmother laughed, and the grandmother said, “One lives in the country and the language where one is.” 

At night, JC’s mother would put him to bed.  If not, his grandmother would.  He wondered why his grandmother’s prayer was different. 


When Mexican peasants sat in the Louis XV chairs in the palace, they made the chairs look ridiculous. 


Julio Labadie had a corner of the Droguería de la Profesa done as a sort of Turkish Ottoman harem.  When he died, it was turned into a folk art corner.  The Lázaro Cardenas regime really got into folk culture and emphasized anthropological research.  This carried through in education.  JC’s Náhuatl play comes out of that.  The Ministry of Hygiene or something used puppet plays to attract crowds.  JC saw it in action.  The puppeteers did the play—but added lots of Náhuatl lines, mourning death of Emperor and so on.  The people were very attentive, unused to seeing their language used for art purposes. 




Undated, mid-1970s?
Boxing in Mexico

Xavier Guerrero, pushed by others, egged JC on to box.  So they put on the gloves.  Guerrero was about the same height as JC but much heavier: a stocky, Indian type.  After the fight, Guerrero said: “Is that all you can do?”  JC shrugged, turned around, and started taking off his gloves.  Hearing something, he turned back and saw Guerrero lying on the ground.  JC had knocked him out, but Guerrero, in the Indian tradition, wanted to say one last word of defiance.




Fernando Leal’s early role

JC agrees with Leal’s claim that he rounded up the young artists to work on murals, not Rivera.




Undated, mid-1970s?
Leal’s anger at JC

It wasn’t Diego Rivera who made trouble between Leal and JC.  It was Roberto Montenegro, who was close to Vasconcelos.  Someone had asked JC about Leal’s mural, and JC had said it wasn’t his own wall.  Montenegro mistook this remark as JC’s rejection of Leal’s mural.




“Pact” with Leal

Fermín Revueltas and his partner [Alva de la Canal], Leal and JC, all were going to do their murals in fresco.  Two did.  Revueltas and Leal were frightened of the new medium and did theirs in encaustic.  This spoiled the understanding.  Both subject matter and style were pretty wobbly.  Leal later reversed the story. 

This was no great problem at the time, but Roberto Montenegro told people that JC had spoken badly about Leal to Vasconcelos.  This is a surmise about Montenegro, but he seems the only possible one.




Early or mid-1970s
Bess Luquiens on JC in 1926 or 1927

She visited Mexico then and went to a dinner attended by all the artists there: Pablo O’Higgins, Rivera, etc.  She was struck because they all talked continuously of a young Frenchman whom they considered a genius and who was off doing archeological work.




Undated, early to mid-1970s
Posada catalogue raisonné project

JC wanted to do a catalogue raisonné of Posada.  This was the first big scholarly work he was tempted to do.[33]  So he was very sad when it was pulled out from under him; especially when the result was such a bad job.  He still doesn’t like to look at Frances Toor’s Posada monograph because it hurts too much.[34]




Undated, early to mid-1970s

JC wanted to do studies of mid-nineteenth-century Mexican art, but did not have enough time.




Norman Pearson on JC

JC was a Roman Catholic, but he didn’t follow the superficial, normal ideas on morality.  When Vasconcelos “got tight balls” about some of the frescoes, JC fought against having them whitewashed.[35]




January 29, 1971 at lunch
Carlos Mérida on JC

JC was the only one who knew how to put a painting on a wall, the only one who knew Paolo Uccello. 

Orozco had one of the hardest walls in the Preparatoria to paint and didn’t find a good solution.

JC was the real intellectual of the movement.  More than Rivera or any other.  They were all behind him.




2.2.1.     Chich’en itza



Undated, early to mid-1970s
Sylvanus Morley in jungle and jungle life

They had to keep a close watch because they were surrounded by Mayans who could become hostile.  The main workers on the project came from a bandit village.  One idiot photographer would pose the women naked and then try to rape them.  He made the situation dangerous for all of them.  He explained to JC that if the girl looked down, that wasn’t art; but if she looked up, it was.

On one expedition or dig, the Indians kept asking whether they’d found gold today.  They explained over and over again that no, they weren’t looking for gold.  The Indians were very polite, but would continue to pose the question.




Undated, early to mid-1970s
In Yucatán

There was an archeologist there, who had come to study the Mayans.  At Chich’en, he was surrounded, of course, by a veritable sea of pure-blooded Mayans.  But he complained that he couldn’t find any.  Everyone had written on his questionnaire that their mothers were Spanish.  The archeologists made inquiries and found the Indians had thought he was asking whether their mothers spoke Spanish and had written yes because it was prestigious that one could.




February 15, 1972
Earl Morris

Morris was a great field archeologist.  He had a real psychic sense.  He knew beforehand what he was going to find and where.  It bothered him because he wasn’t religious.  The big example of this was that he knew he was going to find the Chac Mool in the inner temple.  After he did, he went around with his face in his hands all day, frightened by the experience of having been right.  It was the same with the medallion.  Others had looked elsewhere but he just went in and found it alone on the first digging. 

His favorite tool was a simple digging stick.  He would go up on a mound, poke the stick in at a certain point, move it slightly, and the whole mound would begin to fall away around him, revealing a wall or whatever he knew was underneath.




February 15, 1972
Ann Axtell Morris

“Morley made a mistake to put her on the painting.  He should have put her on the sculpture, which I did, because she could trace it.  I think I could have got the spirit of the painting better.  She was more interested in subject matter, and I was more interested in style.  I went on Sundays and did the little copies I have upstairs.  She got it all in, but missed the artistic side a little.

“On the other hand, she was very good at reconstructing the whole from the blocks.  I don’t think I could have done that.  Of course we argued about some things, but she did a better job than I could have done.”




2.3.         the continental united states




November 3, 1975
On first coming to the U.S.

When JC first came north, Hoover had just been elected.  JC saw businessmen whooping it up in funny hats.  He thought the U.S. was crazier than the place he had just come from.

1)     When the stock market started its crash, Frances Flynn Paine—who was working with the Rockefellers—came up to JC and urged him to give her his money to invest, that there were bargains to be had.  He gave her all he had, $900, and never saw it again.

2)     JC was in Washington during the big Protest March and saw Douglas MacArthur talking with the leader of the workers, a big blond fellow.  MacArthur was getting ready to crush them.




August 27, 1974
A Mafia restaurant 

JC used to go to a Greenwich Village Italian restaurant.  One day the owner was absolutely green with fear.  There was a meeting of big Mafia people in the back room.  Body guards in perfect costumes were flourishing their hands at their hips, where they had their revolvers. 

JC was not too bothered because of his Mexican experience.  He told the woman he was with that if gunfire started, she should turn over the table and crouch down behind it.  Her uncomprehending face was very funny.  After dinner, the owner worried they were going to the police.  JC said no, just for a walk and then back for dessert.  The owner was happy when they returned.

Stravinsky used to eat there too, and he and the owner used exquisite gestures to each other as they spoke.[36]




October 1976
Max Gorelik: folk art, etc.

Gorelik was visiting the parents.  JC said that he remembered a play Gorelik had done in which there was an invention made out of a garbage can.  JC had just arrived in the States and that was the first thing that gave him the idea that there was a U.S. folk art as distinctive as any other.

Gorelik remembered that the playwright had asked him to make up a strange invention.  Gorelik invented a sweeper garbage can.  There were rotating brooms that moved as the can was moved along.  Gorelik said he got the idea from a joke.  A man was being instructed on his job in a factory.  “With this hand, you push this lever.  With this hand you push that one.  With this foot, press on this pedal, and with that one on that pedal.”  Then the man said, “And if you shove a broom up my ass, I’ll sweep the floor for you too.”

The play was at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.




July 18, 1971
Attempt to preserve mural materials

At the Museum of Modern Art, JC gave a lecture to the directors on preserving mural materials: sketches, cartoons, three-dimensional models, etc.  The response was absolute silence.  JC thought that the reason was that those things had no cash value.  Murals don’t interest dealers.[37]




March 10, 1972
Art Students League controversy

John Sloan had befriended the Mexicans and Grosz.  The rule was, if enough students ask for a teacher, the class must be given.  Enough asked for Grosz.  (JC was already there).  The directors either didn’t hire Grosz or threw him out.  They were afraid of communism.  Grosz had been in pre-Nazi communism versus the Junkers.  Everyone was knuckling under.  Sloan resigned in protest.  JC was fired.  Mrs. Sloan wrote JC a note saying the class was suspended because there were not enough teachers for the coming year.  JC was busier at the Florence Cane school than at the Art Students League.  “I was considered a Mexican communist, so we were linked in clippings.  But I don’t think I was fired unduly.”  If JC was kicked out, it was because there were not enough students.  If he resigned, it was because of the French army.  JC: “I was taken away by the French army to do decoding, etc.”  




JC and Dorothy Day

JC felt that he and she didn’t get along.  He offended her first by taking her to a restaurant and second by offering her a drink.[38] 




Sidney Janis

JC pushed artists like Josef Albers on Janis, who were later big successes.  Janis was grateful for it. 

Janis was named Janowitz and had been a shirtmaker.  JC received one day a card saying, “This is to say that Mr. Janowitz has legally changed his name to Sidney Janis,” signed Janowitz.  Janis was careful with people who knew him then. 




March 16, 1972
William Mills Ivins, Jr.  

JC arrived at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1929 and started studying in the Print Room.  Ivins was the curator.  “Ivins looked at what I was interested in.  Ivins would come in and talk to me about them.” 

“My first American prints were at George Miller.  Ivins bought some and I gave him some.”  “Ivins exhibited as early as 1930 some of my prints (Leopard Hunter) in a group show.”

 “He asked me to put together a show of Mexican prints between my collection and his.  He put me in charge of hanging it, which was very nice indeed.  That was later, but Ivins was still in charge.”

“Ivins was interested in Mexican things.  I gave him a good collection of Posada.  I wrote something saying I had pulled the proofs from the original plates.  It was important to be able to know later how they had come to the department.” 

 “I was doing other things.  He came to see the show at John Levy.[39]  He had a wife, and his daughter was eighteen years old.  He would invite Alan Priest, head of the Oriental Department [the Far Eastern Department], with the thought that he would marry his daughter.”  “I went several times to their house, but mostly we were looking at prints.”

“He talked to me about his idea of multiplication of image.  I suppose I got that from him (I talk about it a lot).  But I have a very different idea of perfection.  I don’t think half-tones are best.  I don’t think that photographic reproduction is best.  That departs even from usefulness for me.  The more exact looking, the more inaccurate it is, because then you don’t look for the original.  You think you know.  The old line-cuts made you want to look for the original.”  “For me, the last thing of interest was around 1820, those guys who had lines thin and thick to represent works of art.  I don’t remember the name; one of the Neo-Classical guys, comes out of Canova.  One clean line going thick and thin.[40]  Gérard had a whole book on his art with reproductions in this style; no modeling.”  “Thick-thin line reproductions have a true relation to the original but don’t pretend to be the original.”  “Ivins was more serious.  He decided that for medicine, science, etc., the more accurate was better.”

“Ivins was not just important on prints.  He was an all-around thinker.”

 “When Ivins started the Print Room, prints were very arty.  All ducks.  The emphasis was on states, little notations on the margins, etc.  Ivins had to inveigh against these ideas to establish a good department and collection.”




February 16, 1972
Print Room directors of the Metropolitan Museum

A. Hyatt Mayor[41] was very nice, but JC’s big contact was with his predecessor Ivins.  Ivins taught JC a lot.  JC already knew a great deal, but Ivins could show him the whole great collection of the Metropolitan Museum and explain a great deal to him. 

For instance, usually when one wanted to see the Rembrandt prints, someone would hold them for you.  JC said he didn’t want to study them that way, so Ivins let him look at them on his own.

Hyatt Mayor did what he could to show gratitude to JC.  He had him made a Fellow in Perpetuity, which usually goes just to millionaires. 

JC had only unpleasant relations with Groschwitz.[42]




March 7, 1972
Ivins and Hyatt Mayor

Reading their books is like talking with them.  Hyatt Mayor must have gone home and written down what they discussed during the day.  Hyatt Mayor learned a lot from Ivins, but has his own originality.  Ivins was much more interested in art prints; Hyatt Mayor in non-art, such as catalogues.




March 9, 1972
A. Hyatt Mayor and his book[43]

He doesn’t depend on the price of the art but on his taste.  He ties prints with people.  “So I was able to get him catalogues, cartoons, etc., from Mexico.”

“But Mexico really isn’t part of their geography.  He probably put Posada in [his book] because of me.  But even the work of someone like Zalce is very interesting and has great scope.”

“People are limited.  I gave him all sorts of things, but he has to keep his clear vision which he beams on Europe even more than on the U.S.  He had a lot more material he could have used there.”


June 2, 1997

JC told me about Hyatt Mayor’s book that it was good to read someone who knew more than he put down on paper rather than less.




March 16, 1972
A. Hyatt Mayor

“When I went to Mexico to do the Mexican Mural Renaissance, I told Hyatt Mayor I was going, and he gave me, I think, $400.00 to buy prints for him.”




Madame Marguerite Mespoulet, Barnard University

She thought that JC was unpatriotic, that he hadn’t done enough for France in World War II.  JC had talked with the French consul of New York City.  He said that the government wanted to keep some intellectuals in certain places.  He asked if JC was willing to go.  JC said yes.  The consul then said he would keep him in New York City because of his cultural standing.  JC did secret coding and decoding work.  A date and a boat had been set for departure.  “Zohmah was not very happy about it, but it never occurred to me not to go.” 

Mespoulet had lost a brother in World War I and was very against the embusqués: those who didn’t go to the front.  “She never believed that I stayed because I had been ordered to.”

When they were still friends, JC gave her a life sketch of Claudel, which she never returned.  In her book Images et Romans,[44] she has a page: “Exemplaire imprimé spécialement pour Monsieur Jean Charlot.  “She was nice to me when I was lonely before I got married.”

Mespoulet wrote a very nice book on French influence on Alice in Wonderland.[45]  She was a friend of Maritain, etc.




Early 1970s
JC and DZC: JC and Walter Arensberg

When JC was first in Los Angeles, the wealthy art patron Arensberg invited him to dinner.  JC said he wanted to bring DZC, so Arensberg cancelled the invitation, and JC never got to see him.




August 2, 1971
Collecting papers

DZC said they started collecting and keeping papers because the Philadelphia Museum of Art asked them to do it for itself. 




February 23, 1971
Smith College

The Art Department was in the grip of a couple, man and wife.  They ruined it.  One day, the president of Smith College, a good man, asked JC what was wrong with the Art Department.  JC replied that he didn’t feel he could talk about it as they were the people who had hired him.  He regretted this later, as the president really had no way of knowing.




October 1976
JC’s stay in New England

JC was saying the people in the Smith College town were extremely snobbish and showed it.  Anyone who didn’t come from there was dirt.  He said he let everyone else drop, but he wouldn’t let the butcher drop because he’d give JC bad meat if he didn’t accept JC.  So JC won him over by walking out to the shop during an enormous blizzard with great mountains of snow.  And when he came into the shop, he said, “You people say the winters get rough here.  When is it going to start?”  So he got good meat.




May 12, 1972
Fountain Valley School

The job of head of the Art Department went with the Fine Arts Center job.  JC didn’t know about this.  He received an extra salary. 

It was very difficult.  He had never worked with boys that young before and they were all millionaires and very spoiled.  The only way would have been to spank them and that was forbidden.  But he did some projects with them like the tile fountain for the school, which was almost miraculous, considering how they were.

“There were meetings with faculty and students every Friday in which the professors discussed their students.  I had a secret language that the boys understood but others didn’t.  For instance, one day I had caught them playing cards in class.  At the meeting, I spoke of their studying with great interest ancient medieval images.  Another time, they had built a pyramid of chairs in class and were trying to climb it.  At the meeting, I spoke of our architectural studies and investigations of plumb and weight.  The professors thought that was very interesting, and the boys had to keep from bursting.”





JC had a student at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center who did very attractive child-like drawings. When JC had trouble with the administration, the student was in a group that was planning a protest on JC’s behalf.  But the administration went to the student and promised him a show if he’d withdraw from the protest.  He did, going off into the mountains on a hiking trip or something, and the protest collapsed.  JC was angry about it.  I remember that while we were unpacking a trunk, maybe in the 1960s, we came across a charming watercolor by the student.  JC had a surge of anger, ripped the work in half, and threw it into the waste basket.  I was shocked—that was the only time I’d seen JC do something like that.  I asked him why he’d done that, and he answered, still angry, that the artist had acted very badly towards him. 

The only other thing I saw JC rip up was a letter.  An old admirer had asked JC to send him a painting that he could buy.  JC sent him his favorite from among the series he was working on at the time.  When the man saw it, he wrote JC, saying he was off on a wrong track and should go back to his old style. 







Mid-February 1972
Attraction of Hawai‘i

The attraction of Hawai‘i is its people.  Their brown skin is wonderful for a painter.




Early May 1972
Hawaiian culture and unobtrusiveness

I said Samoans had developed their architecture more than Hawaiians.  JC: “That’s because the Hawaiians didn’t want to impose themselves on their surroundings.”




March 1977
Hawaiian sense of color and tone

Hawaiians are interested in density and texture more than color.  Like the Greeks wine-dark sea—oily surface and transparency.




Hawaiian color sense

Hawaiians were less interested in color the way we are and more in density and texture.  Like the Greeks’ “wine-dark sea”—oily surface and transparency, like the surface of coffee. 

Earlier had said that much stronger into tones than colors, modulations of light.




October 8, 1977
Hawaiian stone-age culture

JC said people always think that Hawaiians using only stone was a disadvantage.  In fact it was an advantage. 




July 24, 1975
Hawai‘i like Mexico in the relation of foreign and native history

We were talking about how haole history ignores the native side.  JC said that he’d already had the experience of Mexico when he came here, which made him know that the Polynesians would have their own side of the story.




Early May 1972
JC’s work in Hawaiian culture

“It was through the Hawaiian language that I came to know Hawaiian culture.  So it’s different from my relationships to other cultures.”




Early July, probably 1976
Hawaiian literature

JC said he was studying Hawaiian literature, while the big interest of his classmates was linguistics.  He kept trying to get them interested in literature.  JC feels some people are coming around now.




January 29, 1972
Hawaiian language styles

JC said, “I am able to discriminate between the language proper to poetry as opposed to prose language.  Most Hawaiians have lost this, and it often confuses them.”

[He explained: When they see the poetic language, they want to “translate” it into prosaic.]  




September 22, 1976

I had spelled “Zepherino,” following Martha Beckwith.[46]  JC said it should be Zephyrin.  I said Beckwith spelled it with –o.  JC insisted, saying it was French and that that was very important.  “He’s my patron saint,” he said.  The French connection of Kepelino was very important for JC, as an Hawaiian-Roman Catholic connection.




S. N. Hale‘ole[47]

JC said that Hale‘ole was doing what he (JC) was: putting together old elements into a new composite.  He said Hale‘ole did it “very intelligently.” 




March ? 17, 1977
May 22, 1997
Working with Hawaiians

When I had the problem with Johanna Cluney about my article being republished,[48] I asked JC how he’d managed to stay friends with Hawaiians.  He said by just eating events like that. 

When I started really getting into Hawaiian studies in the mid-1970s, DZC said that I shouldn’t expect Hawaiians to be “grateful” for what I was doing.  I should just do it because I wanted to.   She said also, “Don’t think you’re doing them a favor.”   JC said, “If you’re worried about the way they talk about you, look at the way they talk about each other.” 

JC told a story about being at a party with Johanna: she introduced him to a Hawaiian friend and said casually, “We don’t resent him too much.”  JC told me, “If after so many years of working on Hawaiian subjects, someone says that about you, you can be happy.”




May 31, 1976
Johanna Cluney

I was telling JC I thought Johanna was getting lost in her own bitterness.  I told him what Evelyn Giddings said she was saying about me.  He said Johanna had said about him that he just knew a few words of Hawaiian and that she humored him along, when in fact the opposite is the case.  He had once told her (many years ago) a certain word, which she denied existed.  She looked it up and found JC was right.  Just recently, she told him a whole story, the point of which was that she knew the meaning of the word.  JC thought it extraordinary that she had remembered the event after all those years.

He said Johanna was a visual artist and they can’t be judged in the same way as other people.

JC said she could be bitter at receiving so little recognition.  I said I’d tried, and Charlie Kenn had written a nice article about her, and she speaks badly of both of us.  She seems to be one of those people who rebuffs anyone who tries to help her.[49] 




January 2, 1972

Mary Kawena Pukui is resented by some Hawaiians who say she told Samuel Elbert false things because that was what he wanted to hear.  Hawaiians feel bad about Samuel Elbert as well.   Johanna once told JC: “The Hawaiians don’t resent you too much.”  This was a high compliment because they resent many.




September 10, 1976
Mary Kawena Pukui, Hawaiian cultural expert 

Talking about the revival and depth of Hawaiian culture, JC said Pukui was very good.  “But in Hawaiian culture, she would correspond to a good librarian.”  There are very important things she can do, like the dictionary,[50] but others she can’t.  She came from a drummer family, so she certainly had a fund of knowledge.  

[Some years ago, I told JC about Pukui’s criticisms of his depiction of drummers in the first Bachman Hall fresco:[51] she said that it would have been cacophony.  JC said that he would really trust Pukui on anything to do with drumming because she came from a drummer family.]




Late July 1976
Internal tensions of Hawaiians 

Looking at the announcement of M. Sinclair’s book on Nāhi‘ena‘ena,[52] JC compared her to K. A.   He said the missionaries had gone at Nāhi‘ena‘ena tooth and nail to bring her over to them.  So she became hopelessly divided in her mind.

[KA committed suicide.  She was an immensely talented young woman, but got involved in the religious delusions of her brother.  She accompanied him to my parents’ house one day when he was acting very crazy.  He survived and straightened out.  But she could never put together her Hawaiian side and her Christian side, and the friction tore her apart.  She had very delusional notions about Hawaiian religion—and I wasn’t knowledgeable or confident enough at the time to help her.  I didn’t remember this conversation when I did my article on Nāhi‘ena‘ena.][53]




March 16, 1972
Hula kii

JC’s interest in the hula ki‘i ‘image hula’ comes from the story of Kalani‘ōpu‘u dancing to a hula ki‘i song and a foreigner (visiting from another island) says the performance is fine, but it’s a shame the old man spoils it. 

Hula kii was like Noh: it had a special language which wasn’t comprehensible to those who weren’t initiated.




Early November 1975
JC’s first talk at the Kamehameha Schools

JC had just been learning Hawaiian a few weeks but began his talk with some lines in Hawaiian.  Then he said in English that he knew his Hawaiian wasn’t good, but thought he should begin thus because it was important that they realized the value of their traditions and persevered in them.  He felt the teachers were stiffening with the effort of controlling their protests.  He said that Kamehameha became a Punahou for Hawaiians.




February 16, 1972
The Kamehameha Schools

Donald Mitchell of the Kamehameha Schools had the idea that the only part of Hawaiian culture that should be taught was what was pleasing to missionaries and whites; so he focused the students on the cute side, little paddle dances, etc.

The UH Press sent Mitchell JC’s Hawaiian plays to read, and he phoned in a scathing report.  JC was in the editor’s office when he did.


When JC arrived in 1949, he went to the Kamehameha Schools to talk to a lady who knew Hawaiian.  She told him what they were teaching—but kept emphasizing that it was “for translation purposes only.”  JC couldn’t understand.  But earlier at the Kamehameha Schools, they had punished students who were caught speaking Hawaiian together.




May 19, 1972
In Moanalua Valley

We visited the big rock with the petroglyphs.  JC decided to use the rubbings from them for his big rock statue.  He said it would give a little publicity to Patches Damon’s efforts to preserve the valley.

Looking at the valley, I said how strange it was that the Hawaiian landscape makes a spiritual or philosophical as well as a physical impression on one.  JC said that wasn’t strange, intimating, I think, that the land was “full of spirits.”

Talking with him and Patches about perfumed mats, I asked if the Hawaiians had crushed flowers on them to perfume them.  JC said, “I hope not!”  Hawaiians wouldn’t destroy something like that when they used it.

JC and Patches were talking about Hawaiian religion: that it has very high ideas––meditation, unity, etc.––which many anthropologists argue came only through Christian influence.  JC: “I tried to express a lot of that in my plays, but nobody paid attention.”


The next day, JC was ill.  He thought it was because he had eaten a leaf that must have been poisonous.  He said: “I’m hoping that when it sees my thoughts are good, it will stop its workings.”




July 16, 1971
The Hawaiian movement

I asked JC if he was going to the protest march of the Ad Hoc Committee tomorrow against another non-Hawaiian as trustee of the Bishop Estate.  He said no.  He’s a little miffed at the foolish debate around the Broken Paddle tradition.  It is typical of the Hawaiian community to waste its time on that.  There was a letter from a Hawaiian woman in the paper today for Sammy Amalu and against JC, saying the law was formulated by a hermit in a cave centuries ago.  JC wanted to know how she knew that.

[Arthur Trask had asked JC to do an image for the marchers to carry.  JC did his process print of the Broken Paddle.  Sammy Amalu wrote to the paper saying that JC distorted Hawaiian culture, because, Amalu claimed, the Broken Paddle story wasn’t true.  Thus the “foolish” debate.  The story is in all the relevant Hawaiian sources, as I discussed with JC.][54]




June 19, 1971
Hawaiian culture

I said it was a shame that the Hawaiians weren’t as aggressive culturally as the Mexicans so that JC’s work in resuscitating the culture could bear more fruit.  He is still hopeful and thinks his Captain Cook play will be a turning point.[55]  He wants to give it in 1979 for the centenary of Cook’s death.




Pele and acceptance by the Hawaiian community

JC said that his work would be accepted by the Hawaiian community if he managed to put Pele on stage in his play[56] without anything bad happening to him. 




Summer 1976
Charles Mack and the Bishop Museum

Mack said that he’d been offered the job (or was being considered for the job) of director of the Bishop Museum, but that he wouldn’t think of taking it after working at the Peabody.

JC said that no one could have a more honorable position than that of displaying the collection of the Bishop Museum––there were such great things in it.




June 30, 1974
Interview with Calvin Hoe on JC

We were making the imu for a lū‘au at Waiāhole Valley and talking about Hawaiian things.  I said I knew that I would look at Hawai‘i always as an outsider.  Cal politely said that wasn’t necessarily so.  Then he started talking about JC.  He said there had been a lot of people who had studied ancient Hawai‘i in its details and spoken about it as a lost culture, olden times.  But JC had looked for the essence of Hawai‘i, the mana.  This is something the Hawaiians believe they still have.  So JC was studying something that is as true today of Hawaiians as it was in the old days.  He says JC is really very respected among the Hawaiians.

[June 5, 1997: it was at this interview that Cal Hoe said: “Others talk about us; your father talks to us.”]




June 29, 1976
A. Morris’s Damien, etc., and the Hawaiian language and people

JC said the play was good, “But when I think back on it, I think the Hawaiians were crude, primitive, mean, homosexual, etc.”  He felt that they thought they had to put Hawaiians down to make Damien look good.

I said it fitted in with the stereotype of the white man suffering in the colored man’s lands.  It’s hard to do this in Hawai‘i! 

I wondered why those people who had done so much work on Hawai‘i, like Aldyth and Ozzie Bushnell, had never learned Hawaiian.  JC said, “I think you have to love Hawaiians to learn Hawaiian.” 




March 10, 1972
Isami Doi

In 1931 or 1932, Doi was in the Fifty Best Prints of… the year.  “He was the first person from Hawai‘i, I’d ever heard of.  I remember looking at it [a print of a staircase] and being very interested in it.”

JC saw Doi in New York City more than here.

Doi was a real provincial, even in Hawai‘i.  He didn’t want to become a Honolulu guy.  He was really from Kaua‘i.

JC liked Doi’s wife.  Doi wasn’t social, but he wasn’t lonely.  He had a very nice wife.




February 6, 1972
Madge Tennent

I asked what influence Madge Tennent had on JC.  He answered, “She first showed me that the Hawaiians have strength.  When I first came here, it was difficult to contact them, and the tourist things one saw were very weak.  She showed me that the strength was there, so I could look for it.”




Early 1970s
Louis Choris

JC saw Louis Choris’ artworks when he first came to Hawai‘i.  He went downstairs at the Honolulu Academy of Arts; you could get into the Print Room then.  They have all sorts of good stuff.  JC had already done the first frescoes: Bachman and Young.[57]  He doesn’t think the Choris works had any influence on him.




Early 1970s
Marisol Escobar and Sidney Janis

JC thought Marisol’s statue of Father Damien was good art so he picked it even when Marisol got nasty with him.[58]  She apparently complained to Janis, her dealer, about JC’s articles on her, and he told her JC was one of the top art writers and important.  She wrote Cornelius Downs, who worked at the chancery and with whom she was in close contact, that it was OK.




July 8, 1975

At Joan Gima’s inurnment, DZC went to pay her respects to Joan’s mother, who was very shaken and said, “To imagine that we’re here for Joan!”  JC said, “It’s the wrong generation.” 

The minister, trying to accommodate his oration to the fact that Joan was an artist, said, “She turned ugly paints into beautiful pictures.”  JC groaned aloud. 




June 1975

I was talking with JC about the TV show we taped[59] and saying one always thinks later of things to say.  JC replied that when I was arguing about his change of view on religion, which he denied, he’d thought to say: “My son, I have heard of fathers trying to make their sons in their own image, but not of sons trying to do it to their fathers!”




September 24, 1971

He gave only one course that he designed himself at the UH: on French art.  His colleagues told him not to think he’d be able to repeat it: “Here we study styles.”[60]




March 6, 1972
Missionaries in Hawai‘i and JC’s historical work

JC feels resistance to his work from the old Protestant families here.  He cites the example of being once at a Hawaiian Historical Society meeting where some books were displayed.  An old lady was shocked that Protestant and Roman Catholic books were side by side.  She separated them.




November 7, 1975
J. F. G. Stokes and W. F. Frear

I was talking to JC about Stokes’ article on the origins of hostility to Captain Cook.[61]  JC said he saw him.  Stokes was present when JC gave his talk on Choris and Kamehameha I.  He was a small man with a long thin beard at the point of his chin that went up and down as he talked.  He was sitting in the front row and kept laughing, even snorting, and saying “That’s not the way it was at all!  That’s not the way it was at all!”  His daughter [?] beside him kept trying to hush him up.

Stokes was really the opposite of JC in his views.  He was very much of the missionary school.

JC bought the Frear book on criticisms of missionaries,[62] but found it not at all useful.




JC’s article on Louis Maigret

JC offered it to the Hawaiian Historical Society, but they said he’d have to take out all the stuff on sunsets, etc.




July 26-27, 1976
The Hawaiian Journal of History and the Maigret article.

JC is feeling bad because he talked to a woman at the office on the phone—they’d said they’d contact him in June.  So he finally called.  The woman said they wanted more on Maigret’s religion.  JC said the article was only part of a big book he was planning and asked if they would print it as is.  Woman sounded relieved and said no; also curt.  JC thinks they acted badly.  He also thinks his article is more important than the material they usually print.[63]




2.4.1.     The honolulu academy of arts



JC told them the Rivera painting was encaustic so it shouldn’t be varnished.  But they did it anyway.

When the Academy had a big watercolor show from their own collection, they didn’t include JC’s.

“They [the directors of most museums] are proud as hell.  There they are handling things they could never do themselves.  You would think it would make them humble, but it doesn’t.”

I told JC that Kowalke hadn’t believed that the Academy people were somewhat against JC, but that he’d snooped around himself and discovered that that was indeed the case.  I asked Ron to find out why this was so.

[As late as 2005, I was introduced to an Academy staffer who actually sneered as she said, “So you’re one of that famous Charlot family.”] 


May 22, 1997:

On the Rivera, I told the above to George Ellis in the ’80s.  He said he was sure the painting was an oil.

The Academy has had lots of shows from its collection that didn’t include JC.  A good example was a big print show that they sent to Japan.  J. S., the Academy curator, later told me she had selected the works to be included. 

I remember one of the younger staff members being very rude to JC when he was asking a favor of some sort from JC!  




February 16, 1972

DZC told me today that she just met a new sub-director at the Academy, who, when he heard her name, asked: “Charlot…Charlot, doesn’t he do some art?  Frescoes or something?”




February 29, 1972

JC was going to the Academy to see May Fraser’s pictures to write the catalogue.  He said, “I wouldn’t mind going there if they were nice to me, but they’re always so unpleasant.”




March 1, 1972

After the above visit, I asked JC how the visit had gone.  He said, “They’re all so cranky.  They acted as if I had insisted on writing May’s preface.  Feher said, ‘The deadline is today.’  I asked about the length.  He said not more than 300 words.  Then he went to see Forster and came back: ‘450 words, but not a word more!’”

“They have May’s 1939 mural in the basement, but they won’t show it because they say it’s ‘too big’!”




March 8, 1972
James Forster at the Academy of Arts.

Forster wrote to JC to thank him for the Fraser preface.[64]  I said that was nice of him.  JC said one thing that soured him on Forster was that JC had asked to see an “Artists of Hawai‘i” show to review it and Forster said he couldn’t see it before it was hung, but then he allowed Web Anderson, the art critic from the rival paper, to see it before it was hung.




Early 1970s?
The Honolulu Academy of Arts

JC gave them two full-size canec panels of the Mexican Conquest from Athens, Georgia, and the cartoons to put on panels.[65]  He had made the display for an exhibition at Smith College.  The Academy exhibited the panels only once without the drawings.  “I glued on the drawings so that they wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.”

The Academy also has the cartoon of the bottom of the first Bachman Hall fresco.  They are antimural at the Academy.  They were crazy not to show May’s mural at her retrospective because it’s “too big.” 




3.             JC’S OWN ART and writing 




February 6, 1972
JC, art history, and his own work

I said R. K. doesn’t know much about art history. 

JC: “Some painters don’t need it for their art.  I needed everything for mine.”




June 19, 1971
Portrait painting

He said he isn’t always seeing people so psychologically.  He turns it on when he begins to paint a portrait.  One starts painting without quite knowing what’s in one’s head.  But it becomes clear as the portrait progresses.  Conscious at the end.




Dead angles in murals

DZC once criticized May Fraser and David Asherman for not doing the back of the sanctuary wall and the dead angles in the Greek chapel they decorated: “Papa would have done his best painting there!”[66]  I said that it was because it was those places that were seen by God. 

When an artist remarked that he would have done a better job on a public mural if the commission had paid him for more time, DZC said that JC always did his very best job regardless of the budget. 




February 15, 1972
The artist and a sixth sense

Talking about Earl Morris, JC said, “An artist has a sixth sense too.  I know when I look at a painting, I can tell things about it that a nonpainter can’t.  Why the artist used that color, why this mound here.  These are professional things.  A practitioner will know them.”




Mid-June 1975
On estimating his paintings

When asked to evaluate one of his artworks for the owner’s insurance, JC composed an answer with DZC, including the following passage:

“Jean is so nervous when it comes to the true market price of his work that even I have to deal carefully with dealers and money values.  We never estimate pictures for other people, especially as Jean would put too low a price and I don’t think there is too high a price.  Also for the records with IRS, it can be difficult for his prices to be high.” 




July 8, 1971
His prices 

Peter Morse teased JC: “Your prices are already quite high for a painter of the people.”

JC answered seriously: “I know.  I almost stopped painting when they reached $10,000.  Every time people talk of prices, I stop painting.  I just can’t go on.” 




Undated, mid-1970s?
JC’s The Mexican Mural Renaissance 

JC said he had tried to make his The Mexican Mural Renaissance[67] “as uninteresting as possible.”  He left out anecdotes, although there are great ones.




July 19, 1971
Influence of Posada on JC

Posada was important for JC because Posada was so interested in the subject matter.  He provided a balance against those who were more interested in style.




July 16, 1971
Vendedora de Platanos: Banana Vendor (Morse number 66) 

I thought a lot about why JC said he didn’t like the above work.  I think it was because it sacrifices the subject matter too much to style.  He achieves a fantastic design, but the subject itself (herself) loses some dignity (e.g., feet splayed).  JC wanted a balance between the real subject and style.

JC agreed with me.  He said this balance was a big thing in his art.  He liked Posada because Posada was so interested in subject matter.




February 8 (?), 1972
Influenced by Picasso’s La Soupe

JC was very impressed by it.  He had seen it in reproduction in a small book of Picasso he took to Mexico.[68]  JC used it in First Steps.[69]




ca. February 23, 1972
Picasso’s La Soupe

The painting, seen in reproduction, influenced JC in the scale between parent and child.




February 24, 1972
The Claudels, Mira Baciu, and Apocalypse drawings

JC was never paid for the Christopher Columbus nor for the Christmas cards he did for Cartier’s.[70]

Now Mira Baciu wants JC to give her all the rights to the Apocalypse drawings.  JC told her they belonged to the Claudel Foundation.  DZC thinks (and told Mira) that JC should get the usual royalties on all uses of the drawings.




February 24, 1972
Mira Baciu and the Apocalypse drawings

JC: “She’s coming in often to talk about the article she’s writing on the Apocalypse drawings, but she doesn’t do her homework.  She knows nothing about iconography, and I start from iconography and move beyond.”




March 14, 1971
On the use of a JC drawing of Claudel 

In a book on Paul Claudel, the frontispiece is one of JC’s drawings of Claudel, on which there is a big dedication written in ink by Claudel to the author.  JC was shocked by it, but then thought that it was probably written on a photograph of the drawing.  In any case, there was no acknowledgement that the drawing was by JC.

DZC thinks Pierre Claudel should help with such things or at least tell JC.  

JC: “I don’t care if those people think it’s a photograph.”[71]




Carl Purington Rollins and JC’s book designing

Rollins was a famous printer of the Yale University Press.  JC worked with him on Claudel’s Christopher Columbus.   JC saw him years later at his retirement exhibition around 1945, when Rollins was almost blind.  Rollins said that working on the Christopher Columbus was one of his greatest experiences.  He went on and on about it.  Then Rollins said that he did not like JC’s Murals in Georgia[72] because it had mixed type.  He had just given JC the black letter edition of Lawrence Wroth’s Some Reflections on the Book Arts in Early Mexico, designed by Rollins.[73]  JC pointed out to him that it had mixed type![74]




October 27, 1975
Book designs

On The Sun, the Moon and a Rabbit,[75] JC worked well with the press man.  Then there was a need for a big change.  The manager didn’t want to do it.  JC said: “We have to.  It will be one of the fifty best books of the year.”  And it was.  JC was very confident about it.  He felt the same way about Charlot Murals in Georgia.




February 17, 1976
Working on Carmen[76]

JC and I were discussing the difficulties of publishing a good text.  He said that the man in charge of the text for the Carmen book was very unpleasant to JC.  He was saying about the illustration with the venetian blinds: “How can she see when the blinds are closed?”  JC finally said: “Look, I’ve looked at your text and there are more than thirty-two important errors in the first part alone!”  That shut him up.




June 19, 1971
Peter Morse’s catalogue

JC would like to do the layout himself.  He was surprised when Morse said he’d just given the publisher his Sloan material and hadn’t worked on the layout at all.[77]




May 20, 1976
Illustrations of Pukui–Elbert dictionary[78] and encyclopedias

Talking to Peter Morse about the work Marcia is doing on the Pukui–Elbert Hawaiian dictionary, JC said he had always wanted to do little illustrations for an encyclopedia of some sort. 


Elbert had forgotten that JC was to do illustrations of the first edition of the dictionary.  Elbert was saying that this time with Marcia was the first time it had ever been done.  JC told him he still had the proofs to show he’d started work on the first edition!


Peter Morse was asking JC’s advice on how to illustrate some language problems: such as cases where there are two words in Hawaiian and one in English.  JC showed him his work in Conversational Hawaiian.  (He took the earlier, large-scale edition).[79]




October 13, 1977
Looking at Dillingham Calendar proofs[80]

“Nice to see the Hawaiian in capitals and the English under it in small letters.”




JC’s Choris and Kamehameha[81]

Dorothy BarrŹre, in her Kamehameha in Kona, page 13,[82] calls the book “brilliant and exhaustive,” but JC said she didn’t understand it.




October 27, 1975
JC’s drawing style and the changed cover of Mele

Mele volume 10, number 32, has someone’s drawing of JC’s drawing.  DZC showed me the fellow left out lots of lines.  She said JC told her people have the idea that his drawings are easy, but they see the difficulties when they try to reproduce them. 

I said it was very bad that Baciu had done that.  JC said neither Stefan nor Mira had any visual sense.  That’s one problem with Mira’s book on the Apocalypse drawings.  The other is that she can’t understand the Apocalypse!




December 5, 1975
G., frame maker, successor to Kondo

G. “collapsed” on JC.  DZC suggested––and JC thought she was probably right––that G. sold the painting JC gave him to one of the other people for whom he does work, such as Blakstad, and was probably so embarrassed by that that he arranged to stop doing work for JC.  




3.1.         plays 




JC said once he liked soliloquies.  There are lots in Jodelle, Corneille, and Shakespeare.




February 6, 1972
JC’s plays and the Drama Department

The reason JC’s play was squeezed out of the schedule this year was the deep hostility of the Drama Department to anything Hawaiian and in particular JC’s plays.  He recalled once having lunch with lots of members of the department, and Trapido[83] asked him what he was doing.  “A book is coming out at the Press.”  “Oh?  On what?”  “Some plays on ancient Hawai‘i.”  There was a glacial silence around the table for thirty seconds.

[June 3, 1997: The Drama Department definitely gave JC the runaround; I’m not sure whether it was this year or another.  They cut JC’s play out and then spread two rumors: that he had withdrawn it and that he had been too difficult to work with.  I remember him on the phone with Terence Knapp, a professor in the department, just about pleading to get the play on.  He had designed a beautiful multipurpose set and made a paper model; when he asked for it back, they said they didn’t have it or had lost it.

The neglect certainly continues.  Neither JC nor Peter Charlot are mentioned in Stephen H. Sumida’s books on Hawai‘i, and JC has published plays on Hawai‘i!

The “literary establishment” here certainly didn’t like JC.  Bushnell was clearly hostile, and Aldyth Morris at least became so, though I think they started off friends––or at least my parents thought so.




August 8, 1975
JC’s Hawaiian plays

Talking about Sheldon Dibble[84] and oral tradition, JC connected oral tradition to two earlier experiences:

1) In France, he talked to an old woman whose grandfather had been present when Robespierre had been arrested and shot in the jaw.  He mentioned the swinging lamp and the odd light it cast.  They put Robespierre on the table, and he made a terrible face.

[June 2, 1997: JC said the light was just the sort of detail passed down in oral traditions but ignored by historians.]  

2) In Mexico, JC wanted to translate into English the original documents around Our Lady of Guadalupe.  The Roman inquiry took place much after the apparition, but some people who claimed to be very old—92, 103, etc.—were interviewed.  Some had oral information that seemed very exact.  Some were related to people who were related to Juan Diego.  It had the ring of truth.  (Another man took over the project but died without completing it.  He was a Náhuatl scholar, who wrote a two volume history of Náhuatl literature).[85]

Those two experiences gave JC a feeling for oral transmission, so he was very interested in Dibble.  He mentioned especially the boy who had eaten Cook’s heart, thinking it was that of a dog.  The story has the ring of truth.


We were going over the first galleys of the Two Plays.  Some grammar is not modern school grammar, but JC said either he’d got it from old sources or Dorothy Kahananui had passed it.  On ke lei [instead of ka lei] in Laukia’s chant, he said it was like ke mele.  The ke moves the following word nearer to being a verb.  Ka moves the following word more towards the noun.  One has to weigh the word and see whether it is nearer a verb or a noun.  JC says there is always an element the hearer must complete himself in Hawaiian. 

He said I should look at the successive versions of the two plays. 




November 7, 1975
On the text of Two Hawaiian Plays

I was trying to clear up some text problems with the help of his typed notes from Kamakau.  He said to be careful because the text had its own exigencies—those of drama.  They had been worked through a different process than that of just writing a book.  He said that if it were to be put on, the actors would change the text a lot.




December 22, 1975
Two Hawaiian Plays

I found dialogue in Fornander IV, page 87[86] similar to JC’s Laukiamanuikahiki.  JC said it was stereotyped; it was really a point of Hawaiian style to use sanctioned (that is, familiar) words and even phrases.  To use the familiar is a form of politeness.  Thus when John Holt’s mother heard Laukiamanuikahiki, she said it was classical.  JC had used all old phrases.[87]

The same is true of repetition: the list of red things is good in Hawaiian, but couldn’t be used in the English.

Hawaiians didn’t have the same ideal of originality.  They strove for a certain sameness, a cliché quality, which gave the text the force of tradition: the accepted, the used.




January 13, 1976
Two Hawaiian Plays and Dorothy Kahananui

JC said Kahananui was very helpful because she reflected much on the text; she really thought about it and what JC wanted to do.

She was helpful also because she told him what he could and couldn’t do in Hawaiian.  He was too logical.  She translated his thought processes into Polynesian ones.  He said it was very instructive to watch her do that.




3.2.         prints 



March 16, 1972
Lithographs and paintings in series

I said that the lithograph plates of the Picture Book II prospectus reminded me of his series of oils in which he did the same subjects but with different colors. 

JC said I could have something there: his interest in repeatability and bringing out the color.




July 29, 1975

JC showed me the first part of his article for Shinichi Takahashi: on the fan covering a demon’s face.[88]  He said it was a story told by a Japanese man at the Honolulu Academy of Arts in the early 1950s.  He was referring to World War II, JC thought, in a guarded and insulting way.  Originally an umbrella covered the face, a reference to Munich. 

He showed me samples on paper of a brown paint.  He said it was amazing how it was changed in his latest Procession at Chalma painting (small, from side).[89]  There it seems light (JC said: “I used it as white”).  JC found it “amazing” how colors can change.  “Usually,” he said, “I don’t like to do those loud pictures.”  “That screaming burnt umber,” I said.  He laughed.

JC showed me a big canvas with black lines of the Procession of Chalma (from front).[90]  He said he could do it two ways: the light on the front figures and graded back—or dark front figures with light sculpting[?].  He spoke of the drawing as a “skeleton” to be “clothed” in color.  I asked whether he wasn’t really thinking of two paintings.  He said probably.  I asked if he really thought of skeleton and clothing as separate.  He said he talked of it that way, but real connections were made in the unconscious.  But, he said, the outline was “a good skeleton.”[91]




Late October 1975
The Christmas 1975 silk screens[92] 

JC is working on the 1975 Christmas silk screen card at Honolulu Sign Company.  He wanted light washes and achieved them when he saw they would have to change their working methods.  Before, they put inks in first and then mixed in “jelly” [?]: JC couldn’t get what he wanted.  He suddenly thought to put the “jelly” in first, then the inks.  He got the desired effect.  It was a question of getting the transparency in first in the necessary quantity, and then putting in only the amount needed of the ink.  He said: “Creativity is often reduced to simple things like that.”[93]




November 21, 1975
The Two Plays cover and Mérida

JC said the serigraph cover was very bright.  He compared its intensity to the cover of Three Plays of Ancient Hawaii (1963), which was the brightest regular process printing could get.  He said when you look at the new cover from a distance, it looks like an Etruscan wall painting, the same colors.

He said the new cover would not be thought “as valuable” moneywise as a regular art print because it was not signed or numbered.  He said even Carlos Mérida, who knows a lot, once showed him a print Miró had given him with a written dedication and said, “It’s worthless.  It’s not numbered.”




November 21, 1975
Working with Hiroshi Morikawa, Honolulu Sign Company, on the Two Plays cover

JC had got them to mix all sorts of strange colors for different prints at the Honolulu Sign Company.  Hiroshi, very taciturn, was his helper.  On this job, they’d done two colors, and Hiroshi asked what was the third.

“Black,” said JC.

Hiroshi paused: “A light black?”

JC thought this was very funny and significant.




June 14, 1976
Printing the blurb of Two Hawaiian Plays

JC said he was happy I’d been with him when Hiroshi Morikawa of Honolulu Sign Company said the yellow wouldn’t be readable.  JC had to insist that it would be.  It really looks nice.  JC really impressed on me this point.

I said he’s trying to do the same thing and encountering the same problem with Kistler and DZC’s children’s book.[94]  He said yes. 




June 2, 1977
JC’s work at Honolulu Sign Company

JC said he was trying new things, e.g., changing plate right on the machine.

DZC told me earlier how happy people there are when JC comes in.  This morning, they were positively beaming.  Nice to see.




October 25, 1977
Print for Maryknoll anniversary[95]

It’s a process print, but JC did the color separations himself, with corrections.  He also mixed the colors himself.  “That’s what gives it its style, which is hard in that small format.”  After all was done and it was printed on the back, the Maryknoll people had a correction for the text!  “But they must be getting more liberal because they finally accepted it as it is.”




3.3.         Paintings




April 23, 1971
JC’s acrylic watercolors

I said I liked his watercolors especially, because he had such pizzazz in that medium.  He said it was because watercolor was near to fresco as a medium.[96]




Portrait of Mrs. Herbert Loui[97]

Obviously, aggressive and nonaggressive colors are fighting it out.  It shows that nonaggressive colors can hold their own.

But he found on finishing the portrait that it was very much the idea behind Maurice Denis: freezing the picture between full modeling and flat wallpaper.  He consciously left the hair flat.

JC liked the personality of the lady: Hawaiian-Chinese.  He used a hibiscus once before in a portrait of a Chinese-Hawaiian lady.  But the hibiscus was very much background then.[98]

We tried the canvas in a pink frame, but it reinforced the face too much.  JC thought he would try white.




February 1971
New Mexican Kitchen series, etc.[99]

He is working with his fingers.  He found it odd, but he was getting new effects.  It “seems to work.”




September 1971
Cobey Black on the portrait of her children[100]

Cobey liked the painting when she first saw it.  She said it was like her dream, but better, because she hadn’t been able to “visualize it” herself. 

[Cobey had had a sort of dream in which she felt her children growing like branches from a tree.  She described it in words to JC who tried to illustrate it.]




Week of October 13, 1977
On late multimedia (acrylic watercolor)

I said I really liked it.  He said he’d done it as a job.  He didn’t like his acrylic watercolors because he knows people like the flashy technique that comes with the medium, which is something he tries to avoid.




October 15, 1977
On acrylic watercolor painting

[This was the second time he mentioned it, so it’s on his mind.]

JC said that flashy technique is not part of his idea of art.  “I do that just as an artist, but that’s not all of what I consider my work.”

[“Artist” here means just painting with the hand rather than with the mind too.  JC wants to put together the technique and the mental scrutiny, the investigation that leads to geometry.  In the final result, the technique becomes subordinated to it.]




May 20, 1997

[So as not to pander to lovers of flashy technique, JC would put tape at the margins of the acrylic watercolor and then remove it when he was done painting.  This made a straight edge and removed the brush strokes that went past the image proper.  He started doing this when someone annoyed him by admiring those strokes rather more than the main picture.  But then some time later, JC told me he’d looked at some of those strokes again and decided he’d been wrong, that they really were good.]




3.3.1.     The portrait of ‘iolani luahine




May 28, 1976

I saw him doing the big cartoon in the studio—very dramatic. 

He said she kept moving so was a bad model, but he got a strong impression from her. 

I asked if it was good.

He said, “Yes, very.”  She went into a trance like Aunt Jennie Wilson.  JC was on the couch, and she was on the floor looking out at the garden.  She didn’t have anything to do, so she started inventing a dance with her maile lei, looking out at the garden.  That meant she moved, but it was quite nice. 

So he did bad sketches from her at that time, and then really started working after she left.  He worked from those sketches, from photos DZC took, and from some materials Francis Haar gave him, which JC had asked for.

I said I thought the painting looked big.

JC laughed and said he did too.  When he was told he should do a portrait, he first thought it would be just a head, but he wanted to make it similar to the two previous ones by Feher and Stamper.  It’s the same size and scale.  But he didn’t want her to be seated in a chair.

He thought it was funny that Mary Pukui was portrayed holding a Bible.  He would have thought it would be her dictionary, but she had asked for the Bible.




May 31, 1976

JC said that as he got into it, he realized he was “basing it on” Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Theresa.  It has the same tilt.  But he had always detested the angel, the line of whose arrow stabilizes [my word] the tilt of the saint.  JC was interested in the unstable rocking quality of the main figure itself.

Kekoa took photographs DZC had made of ‘Iolani Luahine and, looking at the drawing, tilted a photograph until it matched the tilt in the drawing.  JC thought that was very intelligent.

JC also replaced the lei arrangement of the earlier version in the bottom left corner with more primitive instruments to suggest the archaizing quality of her style of dancing.

The parents didn’t know who Hoakalei Kamau‘u was—she had accompanied ‘Iolani Luahine.[101]




June 10, 1976

I talked to DZC on the phone.  She said that at the Living Treasures presentation, ‘Iolani Luahine had sat by JC, held his hand, and been very nice to him.  Then at the end of the ceremony, she started “saying a few words.”  She then broke into a beautiful chant.

I spoke later with JC: he said it had been important for him because he had the “plan” with the sketch, but now was working on the color.  Sitting by her and hearing her chanting, etc., had given him ideas.

[The portrait might turn into a series.]




June 24, 1976

JC said it was hard to paint because he wants to preserve the ink line, so has to paint right up to it.

He said he tried the ‘ulī‘ulī of Cal Hoe as implements for bottom left corner, but they looked too modern.  They’ve been used too much for hotels, tourists.  So JC put in more ancient things.

He says he will be satisfied if it looks antique—ancient Hawai‘i.  




June 24, 1976
The ‘Iolani Luahine portrait and the Lynn Beveridge tapestry 

I went to the parents’ after moving stuff.  JC told me to come up to the studio and see the tapestry.  He and Evelyn Giddings were looking at the oil of ‘Iolani Luahine, which was put up on the wall next to the drawings.  The skin was done and the face pretty much, if not completely.  He said he wanted to get the right green for the maile lei, to make it somewhat more dynamic.

I remarked, “What distortion!”  He laughed and said people don’t notice it.

Then we turned to the wall by his bed where the tapestry was hanging.  Brilliant colors (showed his two color styles!).  He remarked on the scale.  You don’t notice how big a mural scale is.  You reduce it in your mind to natural scale.  Only when you pick out a detail (such as the tapestry which was done from the Leeward Community College cartoon) do you see how big it is.  He said the tapestry medium gives the color a special depth.  He said it was a real cooperation between him and Lynn.




June 28, 1976

I asked how it was going.  He said it was complicated: it had very small differences of tone and value, but he wanted to make them seem big.  Difficult.  For instance, a certain color looks pink on his palette but green when he puts in on the canvas.

[This is on the maile lei.  He was very proud of and astonished at the effect.]




July 1976

JC called me to his studio and said he wanted to show me something.  He’d pasted [?] a paper with a drawing of a kukui nut head lei onto the painting to see how it would work.  He decided that it was better than the earlier feather lei.  He said Turner had done the same thing: on one of his paintings can still be found a little black dog he’d pasted on to check out.

 [It interested me that JC wanted me to see it.  He sees I take a particular interest in this painting and is subtly helping me in this way.  He also wants me to get it right.]




ca. July 2, 1976

He said the reason he put in lots of detail was to make the portrait go with the earlier two portraits by Joseph Feher and Wilson Stamper.[102]  He thinks they will be hung together.




July 16, 1976

I was talking with JC, Peter Morse, and Peter’s friend.  JC said that Luahine had posed very nicely while he was in Kona this time.  The sketch he’s going to use was so small in his notebook that he couldn’t see it, so he had the Academy photographer blow it up “life-size” [that is, the size of the painting].   JC was enthusiastic about it at that scale and will use it.  He said he’s already painted out the old face.  I asked if he’d photographed it first.  He said no, but he has a small study for it.  I expressed regret.

He said that the old face was generalized “as I do for the hula kii pictures,” and so on.  But this should be a portrait so it should look like her.  He wants it to fit with the conception of the other two portraits in the State of Hawai‘i series on notable citizens.




July 28, 29, 1976

JC said DZC didn’t like it because it wasn’t typically him.  But he’d tried to appropriate it to the earlier ones in the series: so smaller scale, more aerial (more air around the subject, more background), more detailed.

He said Alfred Preis had asked for a sketch to show the committee, and JC told him it was done.  Preis sent someone to pick it up and then called JC.  He’d hung it vertically and was a little confused!  JC told him to hang it horizontally!

JC said he’d probably like it because it was nearer to other portraits.




3.4.         murals and statue



October 21, 1971
His rejected Negro mural project  

The jurors said his Negroes were “too black.”  How things change.  It would have been a powerful mural.  I said about the panel of charging black Civil War soldiers at the Battle of Fort Wagner: “They probably didn’t like Negroes shooting at whites.”  JC: “But it was a historical fact.  The white southerners punished the white officer of the troop by burying him with the blacks he led.”[103] 




Probably 1976
McDonough Post Office

McDonough, Georgia, is a small town.  JC attached himself with the one cultured man there, who was the post office head and had been to the University of Georgia.  He took JC around to the cotton gin works.  All the workers were Negro.  JC had to send a detailed sketch and description to Washington.  He got a letter back saying JC was a foreigner and didn’t know about conditions in the South; it was different from Mexico, etc.  All this was being said, of course, because the subjects were black.  JC didn’t understand the letter and took it to the P.O. head.  He didn’t understand it either, so they just went ahead.  Now old people come and cry in front of the mural because it shows the old techniques of bailing cotton.

[Later JC told me that old workers bring their children to the mural to show them how they used to work.] 




July 1971
Remark of Dr. Harry Wood, from University of Arizona at Tempe

He said they were very happy about the fresco there.  He said it pre-existed their own ideas about the architectural development of the University: a perfect wedding of decoration and architecture.  That’s why the building was saved––to save the fresco.




Early 1970s; February 1972?
Hawaiian Village fresco[104]

JC said it was his freest.  There were no missionaries looking over his shoulder and the family was away in Europe when he made the cartoon.




October 6, 1971
Way of the Cross[105] 

The workmen should have used oscillator-vibrator inside and out, but they didn’t use it inside.  The people working on the job didn’t know what to do.

[The oscillator was used to drive the cement into the mold.  The proper technique of using the oscillator had already been developed by Tom Van Sant, the artist who created the technique.  He had used it in his airport and other murals and had even offered to aid Charlot in the technique.  But JC was not informed about the new oscillator process, so the result in his Way of the Cross was not as good as it could have been.  He felt they should have given him all the necessary information.] 

Also, the color of the cement was different.

[The color of cement refers to the variations in the color of the cement.  Again, there were ways of working with that, but JC hadn’t been told.] 

The original molds were six inches deep.  Ossipoff had it changed to three inches for the oscillator, which he then didn’t use!

[JC had to reduce the depths of his molds on the spot.  He felt that he had lost “some of the best effects.”] 

Architects leave everything once they’ve completed their plans.  JC had to go and tell the workmen where to put the mold.  They couldn’t read the reversed Roman numerals! 




February 10, 1972
Episodes from the Life of Christ[106]

The two parable doors are supposed to give a more fantastic, story-like impression.

Evelyn Giddings got better and better at her use of patina as the job went on.




ca. April 18, 1971
JC’s Ali‘i Nui[107] and creativity

After so many delays by the ceramic technician, Isami Enomoto, the idea of the head and shoulders begins to fade.  JC will do a “reconstruction” of them now rather than them themselves.




April 23, 1971
Mural painting in acrylic

Referring to Musicians of Old Hawaii,[108] JC said that the advantage of acrylic is that it becomes so quickly opaque.  It hides mistakes and is easy to work with.  Even easier than oil, which JC had thought was the easiest.

Watercolors and fresco don’t give you any way to cover up your mistakes.  They’re always visible.




June 4, 1972
JC’s In Praise of Petroglyphs[109] and Cubism

I said how interesting it was that Evelyn Beveridge could get the shape of the statue with papers.  “Well,” said JC, “we did it cubistically.”




May 22, 1997
Leeward Community College mural

One of the other helpers, Bruce Pan Wilson, had imposed his own style a little much with the trunk of the coconut tree and with the curve of the rose earth under the men pounding poi on the right.  I remarked on this to JC.  He said you didn’t notice it when you looked at the whole painting, but I thought and still think them obtrusive. 




October 21, 1971
Ceramics: School Street faćade of United Public Workers Building[110] 

I asked JC if he was using new techniques on the second panel of the UPW mural.  He said no, but he was getting better at the ones he had developed with the first panel.  He says he knows of other techniques, but doesn’t want to use them because they’re a little too artificial.  He likes to keep the natural feel.




April 23, 1975
JC talking with Steve Murin about the UPW Panels 

JC said the UPW panels are composed by color: 

e.g., the orange robe of women with the orange cones

touches of red

the last panel will close the chain

When composing it, JC always kept a drawing of the adjacent or previous panels. 

On photos of the LCC mural: black and whites give a better feeling of the fresco than color; color just can’t give the real colors of the fresco

Murin spoke about the UPW:

The custodial workers demanded formally that the cafeteria workers not be in their panel.  A letter was sent from the chairman of the custodial workers unit:

We have decided that the panel is not big enough for two custodial, two cafeteria workers, and the children; so reconsider and have only the custodians.  Remember that our unit gave a bigger loan for the building of the building.

Murin told them at a meeting that two “heroic, full-sized” custodial workers and the cafeteria workers and the children would be in the mural.  A man said: “Well, they must be the size of menehunes!”

Lots of groups have been saddened because they aren’t depicted in the panels.

When the first tiles were being sketched, Murin was happy.

JC said of the panel Cafeteria Workers and Custodians: “In other panels, I just had to be worried about satisfying the membership.  But now I have to satisfy the parents and grandparents.”[111]




August 19, 1976
UPW panels

Speaking of my Chanting the Universe, [112] JC said a style always changes through such a work: my Chapter I is more Germanic than the rest.  He drew the parallel: the first UPW (the friendly strike) panel is different from the rest.  The style changed as he went through the project. 




3.5.         Peter Morse’s article and booklet



June 25, 1975
JC and DZC on Peter Morse article

The Pratt Institute has asked Morse to do an article on JC’s prints, and he told the parents he’d do one on how popular JC is.  DZC was indignant about that.  She thought it was silly that PM would take that aspect.  JC said that he means JC doesn’t like special editions, etc.  I agree, but I think that Morse really doesn’t have a handle on JC’s work.  I think he is nonplussed by it and tries to understand it by the few clichés of secondary literature on JC. 

I wish PM would write on the technical side of JC’s prints, in their historical context.




September 21, 1976
JC’s latest Posada article, “Notes on Posada,”[113] and Peter Morse’s booklet: Popular Art: The Example of Jean Charlot[114]

I said it was interesting that JC gets deeper and deeper into Posada.  Before he emphasized more his works and now… (I hesitated).  JC: “I identify with him more.”

Both JC and I think some of the emphasis of this article is an unconscious reply to Morse’s one on JC.  JC said he hadn’t started off with that in mind.  “Peter’s article was obviously in your mind though,” I said.




July 29, 30, 1976
Peter Morse’s booklet

DZC is very much against it.  I glanced at it and didn’t like it.  I thought better of it after reading it through.  JC is calmer than us about it.

He said it’s “the view of an outsider.”  It makes JC out to be Machiavellian, secretly doing unpopular art and then doing popular art.  JC thought that Morse’s examples of pure art were very silly (petroglyph etchings, Arce, Mérida).

JC thinks Morse is trying to put JC and his own father together.

JC thought all the relationships noted with other printmakers were interesting.

JC: “He went as far as he can within his own limits.”  He’s limited to techniques, where he’s tops, but he has a hard time getting out.  JC is surprised he went as far as he did.[115]




Late September and October 10, 1976 
JC’s “Notes on Posada” and Peter Morse’s booklet

As JC was doing his Posada article, he saw more and more that it was an answer to PM’s booklet.  He spoke about it as “instructing Peter Morse in the meaning of the word popular.”

On October 10, he described his article as a “rebuttal” to Morse’s. 




4.             ARTISTS



November 14, 1975
Georges Bataille’s Lascaux; or, the Birth of Art[116] and prehistoric art

JC gave me the Lascaux book saying, “I don’t need it anymore.”  He said he’d taken his slides for lectures from the book.

He said all books say that the hunters themselves had done the artwork.  But JC thinks [and I heard him say it in his UH lectures on the subject] that the wrists that produced the art were too supple to be those of muscular hunters.  So the hunters must have asked people to do the paintings who specialized in art and whose muscles weren’t developed so stiffly.  The painters did them for the hunters, but they weren’t hunters themselves.

[DZC thought JC’s idea was very funny about why all the paintings were in the backs of the caves: he said it was the low-rent district, the only one the artists could afford.]  




Early Paolo Uccello

JC: He is so cold-blooded that he uses a corpse in the battle scene as a perspective line, as much as lances.




October 1975
Albrecht Dürer

I asked JC about Dürer.  I said that JC talked a lot about him and found him interesting, but didn’t seem to have much sympathy for him.  JC replied, “Dürer is interesting because he’s so analyzable.  You can see what he’s trying to do.  So he’s a good subject for scholars.”




Late 1971
Hans Holbein and Henry VIII

Holbein was in trouble after the Anne of Cleves affair, but was saved.  JC thinks Henry was happy that Holbein brought the English into the Renaissance.




July 2, 1976
Michelangelo, Poussin, subject matter 

Talking about Charles de Tolnay’s Michelangelo,[117] JC said it was good but had big booboos.  Tolnay says the first idea for the Last Judgement was the Resurrection and that it wouldn’t have had many people.  Tolnay apparently doesn’t know about the General Resurrection, when everyone gets resurrected.  Tolnay is like Mira Baciu calling the Apocalypse a chapter of the Bible.  People should do their homework.

When JC was at the National Gallery in London, he stayed in front of a late Poussin Annunciation,[118] which is very explicit about the insemination of Mary.  He told Frank Sheed and others about it, he was so enthusiastic.  Earlier solutions to the presentation of the subject had a ray of light going through the mouth or some such.  This really has it going in as sex.

JC looked at Anthony Blunt’s book on Poussin,[119] and found Blunt said only that that picture was more three-dimensional than the earlier version.  Terrible.  Poussin was obviously very interested in the subject matter and put a great effort into solving the problem presented by it.  But that is totally ignored by Blunt.




Early April l978
Annibale Carracci

His early work shows how good he was when working in the style of his contemporaries.  But then he deliberately made the choice to adopt a High Renaissance style to please his conservative patrons.  It is so odd to see all that High Renaissance stuff coming back at that time.




January 1977

I had read the C. V. Wedgwood’s World of Rubens,[120] which is very sympathetic to him.  I told JC about this, but he continues to think that Rubens wasn’t a nice person.  He was a secret agent for the Spaniards, which was unpatriotic.  JC said that a patriot had treated Rubens coldly, and Rubens had his revenge by having him incarcerated in Spain when the man had been given a safe-conduct.

Another point JC made elsewhere is that Rubens’ much younger second wife did not like him.  After his death, she never mentioned him.  JC seems to think he disgusted her by his recherché sexual demands.




April 22, 1977 
El Greco and Giulio Clovio and Bruegel

I was reading a book on Velázquez that mentioned El Greco.

JC said when he’d been at Smith College, he had said or written that Bruegel worked in the style of Michelangelo.  A professor challenged him so JC pointed out that in the list of effects of Clovio, there was a book of Michelangelo copies on which Bruegel had collaborated.  JC’s point was that Bruegel could do it when he wanted to, but stopped when he left Italy.

JC said El Greco’s muscles and figures are much closer to Clovio than to Michelangelo; El Greco is closer to other small figures.[121] 




Mid-August 1976
Bernini and Louis XIV

JC saw it as a conflict of age and youth: the old Bernini at the height of his fame and the young Louis, just beginning.  It was a real generation gap in taste that ended up being very good for the history of French art.[122]




1977? [with cards of October 1977] 
Looking at book on Pietro Longhi (1701–1785)[123]

––Longhi corresponds to Courbet vs. Ingres in France.  Longhi was a realist vs. Neoclassicists, e.g., Friar’s Sermon.  Longhi doesn’t laugh, just tried to put down what he sees.

––Small figures in big spaces: people didn’t have money to keep up their palaces.  Longhi captures “that relative poverty” in the large decors.  They didn’t have enough furniture to fill the rooms.

––What sets him apart from Hogarth, etc., is his color.  Light pastels.  Rather like Renoir.




August 27, 1972
J. S. Copley, Goya, teaching art history at the UH, Ozenfant

JC said he had really studied Copley.  There had been a big exhibition of his works in New York City in the 1930s.  He thought that when Copley went to England, he became “as good as any English painter” [ironic] and lost the special quality he had in America.  He said the shark picture[124] is so great and difficult for art historians, because it’s too early for Romanticism.

Looking at the Academy Goya Disasters, he said that he saw some once without the tint and they gave a very different impression.  The little lines of the background looked like Canaletto’s method of doing atmospheric light. 

Talking about his classes at the UH, he said he started off giving all his learning in the history classes, but ended by simplifying everything extremely.

[Years ago, he told me he’d started by giving his view and ended by seeing they needed the standard view first.]

I said I’d been told by several students how much those classes had meant to them.  He said he’d been told the same.

At the Academy, he felt sorry that the Ozenfant had been ruined.  All his careful interrelations of tones had been ruined in overpainting.

On Chinese painting, I like the one of the mountains; he said he liked it too.[125]  It’s so rational; it shows what one can do when one pursues that line.  The reserves work so well.

At an Indian painting, he said the verso of the scroll is to be read publicly.  The hearers would look at it simultaneously.  So it has to be seen from a distance.




July 14, 1971
EugŹne Delacroix

JC doesn’t like him as a person.  He has the same reaction to Rubens.  Delacroix was pampered by the government and turned into a snob.  He was against the workman side of art.  Lots of showmanship.




March 7, 1972
Théodore Géricault and Walter Pach

JC: “Pach loved Géricault, but I brought him a little lithograph related to the Wounded Cuirassier, and Pach refused to consider it.  He said it was one of his commercial works, etc.  Actually it’s very interesting.”




Early 1970s
Honoré Daumier

JC was showing Dave Thompson some prints by Daumier (early 1860s).  Dave said: “He doesn’t have much economy of line,” pointing to an elaborate vest, cravat.  JC after a pause: “He enjoyed drawing.”




July 20, 1977
Daumier and Paris

JC said he was working on his Daumier article.[126]  JC started by saying, “I do have some advantages.”  He said that both he and Daumier really knew Paris.  Daumier grew up in Paris [just like JC]. This gives JC an in on understanding him.  People who don’t know Paris that well just can’t.  




Paul Cézanne

He led an unexciting life outwardly.  He had that bourgeois quality of keeping his emotional life within himself and expressing it only in his work.




July 29, 1971
Paul Cézanne, Juan Gris, and grande peinture

Cézanne didn’t like the Impressionists because he wanted to do grande peinture.

Gris wrote once, “I may not be doing good painting, but I’m doing grande peinture.”




March 8, 1972
Paul Cézanne

JC: “If Cézanne hadn’t renounced Paris, he never would have been what he was.”  JC said this while making the point that Federico Barocci and Cézanne didn’t live in art centers.  




June 19, 1971
Henri Matisse and the Douanier Rousseau

When Matisse was in New York City, there was a big show of Rousseau at the Museum of Modern Art.  Matisse refused to visit it, saying he wasn’t interested in folk art.  In fact, Matisse got his way of laying on paint from Rousseau. 




March 7, 1972
Umberto Boccioni

JC saw Boccioni’s marching man at an exhibition just before the First World War.[127] 

The Futurists influenced Siqueiros.




February 8 (?), 1972
Influenced by Picasso’s La Soupe

JC was very impressed by it.  He had seen it in reproduction in a small book of Picasso he took to Mexico.[128]  JC used it in his theme First Steps.

On Picasso: Blue and rose periods terrible.  Picasso is coming from a whole group of people doing the same thing in Barcelona.

Picasso’s Negro and Cubist periods are fine.  After that, his art went down.  He placed too much emphasis on wit.  His friends (especially, Cocteau) pushed him into his Classical Period to show he could do it.  Very bad.




March 7, 1972
Jean Dubuffet, Georges Rouault, and Roger de La Fresnay

Looking at the catalogue of a MOMA exhibition of drawings:

“If I were to get any modern French painter, it would be Dubuffet.”

“Rouault is beginning to fade for me now.  It’s funny.  I mean I never thought he would.”

Looking at La Fresnay’s drawings: “That really is perfect.”




Paul Klee

JC changed his mind about Klee.  When JC came to the U.S. from Mexico, he liked Klee—felt him as a contrast to the Mexicans and the mural movement.  But soon JC began to think him thin—not much to his work.

JC also changed his mind about Sesshu Toyo.  He first thought him very stiff and then learned to appreciate him more.




March 7, 1972 and earlier
George Bellows

JC won’t buy any books with Bellows illustrations in it.  “There are some painters in whom one can’t find anything to like.”




March 7, 1972
John Steuart Curry, Reginald Marsh, and Thomas Hart Benton

JC: Curry and Benton are really uninteresting.  But Benton is nice as a person, very unarty.  Also, he really wanted to be a mural painter.  Even before he had walls, he painted canvases too large to sell.  He called them studies for murals.

Reginald Marsh is better.  A very brainy man, went to good schools, etc.  He was very nice when I met him.[129] 




Early 1970s?
Alexander Archipenko vs. the Museum of Modern Art

When JC wanted to do a show on techniques of painting at MOMA, he asked Archipenko if he could use some of his work.  Archipenko wouldn’t have anything to do with MOMA.  MOMA had ignored Archipenko, had refused to recognize his work and historical significance, so Archipenko rejected them.  After Archipenko died, MOMA came round.




March 10, 1972
Arshile Gorky

Gorky was visual and had a hard time expressing himself in words.  He’d done a design for a WPA project.  The committee called him in and pointed to some blue stars and said they were communistic.  Gorky mumbled something and went away.  He came back with his sketches: he’d taken the stars from a service station![130]




April 23, 1971
Ivan Mestrovic

JC knew Mestrovic when working at Notre Dame.  He said, “Mestrovic was a good jobber.  He once said to me, ‘Rodin was a funny fellow.  He began jobs without knowing how they would end.’  And that defines Mestrovic.  He always knew how it would end.  But it was nice to watch him working with the clay.  The way he would move it in his hand.  It was the artisan angle.  Very good for the students.”

Mestrovic was very short.  JC put him in his fresco, Mestrovic’s Studio,[131]  standing on a chair and working on a colossal head.  JC had been sketching him from life.  Mestrovic looked at it and said he couldn’t remember which head of his it was.  Suddenly he realized that it was his own.  JC had used one of his three-quarter portraits for the sculpture.  In fact, all of Mestrovic’s sculptured heads are based on his own.  “You have a sense of humor,” said Mestrovic.

Mestrovic hadn’t been hired as a teacher, but he was an excellent one and enjoyed it.  He spent lots of time at it, which of course delighted the Notre Dame authorities.




April 20, 1977
Isamu Noguchi

Noguchi called in the morning to ask JC to be at the sculpture unveiling.  Lots of artists here have given Noguchi support in the controversy over Sky Gate.  At the unveiling, Noguchi said he was international and Hawai‘i showed the way to the future because different races got along well here.  Then he said he’d found “a cultural vacuum” here and had done the sculpture to give a direction and example.  I thought, an international direction.

I said to JC, “Some people don’t know what they’re saying.” 

He said, “Oh, but he means it.  He’s going to come here and teach us how to do fresco.”

It made me think Noguchi is totally self-centered.

At a restaurant later, JC said that in the end, that was Ken Kingrey’s attitude too.  [I think Ken was being symbolic of a whole milieu here].

JC referred to the new competition for the Lili‘uokalani statue, but said the jury is all the same people he’s seen before: the ones who turned down his statue for Marisol’s.

I was offended by Noguchi’s remarks.  I think JC was hurt.  DZC said he didn’t go up to shake hands with Noguchi after.  JC said there were too many people.  I felt like writing Noguchi off at that point.

JC said part of it was Noguchi “tooting his own horn.” In order to sell his own works.  He’s still hoping for some commissions here.




April 22, 1977
JC and DZC on Noguchi

DZC said Noguchi had come by to say goodbye and she had told him she hadn’t liked his statement about a cultural vacuum.  Both DZC and JC thought Noguchi explained himself well.  He’d been speaking of the politicians here.  He wanted to say something to the nisei who are running things.




Early April 1978
Marcel Breuer’s house 

JC visited Breuer’s own house.  Breuer[132] was very proud of the fact that the walls stopped before the ceilings.  He had a big theory about space.  Just then they smelled a bad smell.  Mrs. Breuer said, “Oh, somebody must be feeding the cat in the kitchen.”




Weston’s dancing

Weston was a very good and interesting dancer in the geometric style––geometric dancing.

[JC said the same thing on another occasion about Mondrian, although I don’t think he ever saw Mondrian dance.  He was judging from descriptions.] 




June 19, 1971
John Wisnosky and Edward Stasack

I told JC that Mary-Lou Stasack thought that Wisnosky had taken lots from Ed Stasack’s bedsheet series.  JC said that if you examine the dates, you see Wisnosky used the airbrush technique first.




March 1977
Nineteenth-century Chinese prints

Nineteenth-century Chinese prints are nearer in color to French than Japanese.




Summer 1975
Japanese art

When I was reading a Heibonsha book on the Japanese tea ceremony,[133] I mentioned the statement of one master: “I don’t like the full moon.”  JC disagreed with the interpretation in the book.  He said he thought it referred to the so-called “football moon,” which is slightly elliptical, not a full circle.  The allusion was to the new asymmetrical “imperfect” style in tea cups.




4.1.         Mexican Artists



Undated, early to mid-1970s
José Guadalupe Posada’s death date[134] 

His death date of 1913 is wrong.  Posada worked from a photograph taken later––1915?––hanged man.  See Casasola.  1913 is probably the death date of Posada’s son.




Undated, mid-1970s
José Juan Tablada

He wasn’t involved in Rivera’s politics.  He helped Orozco.

Tablada doesn’t mention JC in his book[135] because it was really finished before 1922, so there was nothing to show yet in the Mural Renaissance.  Tablada added a bit about it, but not much.




Undated, mid-1970s
Roberto Montenegro

Before Diego Rivera returned, he and Jorge Enciso were the only big artists.  Montenegro was close to the big political figures of the day.  So Montenegro wasn’t pleased when Diego came back, but he tried to adjust by painting murals in fresco.

Montenegro wasn’t generally nasty or political, but he was gossipy, liked a new story, etc.




Undated, early to mid-1970s
Francisco Goitia

Goitia was always very shaky and in the end mad.  He had shown JC two beautiful nudes.  JC took an American lady artist to see them.  “Goitia went all silly in Indian style, which he affected.  He finally came with the two canvases, but all the paint had been scraped off.”  Later people told JC he’d done it because he knew JC would want him to show them to people.




Fernando Leal’s early role

JC agrees with Leal’s claim that he rounded up the young artists to work on murals, not Rivera.




February 17, 1971
Fermín Revueltas

Revueltas was a very good artist, but he was always drunk. 




Undated, early to mid-1970s
JC and DZC on Xavier Guerrero

Both feel bad because Guerrero was going to have a big show in New York, and an FBI agent visited them to ask about him.  They didn’t see anything wrong in saying he was a communist because it was quite open in Mexico.  But then the show was cancelled, and Guerrero lost his big chance at success.  The parents are naēve.[136]




February 17, 1971
Leopoldo Méndez

Mendez has never been given his due.  Art circles were put off that he did so much newspaper work.

In the Mexican Revolution series, he was hurt by his conviction of the value of collective work; this resulted in uneven quality.




Undated, mid-1970s
Rufino Tamayo

Tamayo lived in international magazines of art.  He wanted to make good as an international artist.


Undated, mid-1970s

Though Tamayo wanted to get ahead, he never painted dishonestly.




March 25, 1977
Frida Kahlo

JC said that of all the non-muralists, she was the only one not reacting (pro or con) to the muralists.

He thought some of the anti-muralist modern movements were “silly.”




Undated, mid-1970s
MacKinley Helm

He was under the thumb of Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, so he had a rather odd angle on the Mural Renaissance.




Undated, early to mid-1970s
Frances Flynn Paine

She got a one-man show for Rivera at the Museum of Modern Art.  She probably worked on the Rivera show and probably even gave them the idea.

She was a good mover.  She had a little money from Rockefellers and opened a gallery at the Art Center to further Mexican art.  She showed both modern Mexican art and folk art.  It wasn’t a bad idea. 

The gallery also had group shows.  But Orozco is still furious because the show was badly hung or included artists he didn’t like.  It isn’t true that Orozco’s paintings dominated the show.  Alma Reed is no art critic.  Orozco’s nearness to German Expressionism helped people to understand the paintings.




4.2.         Diego Rivera



Mid-July 1971
Diego Rivera

Rivera is a very important painter.  If any young man is looking for someone to spend his life studying, it should be Rivera.




Early 1970s?
Early man, Rivera, and Orozco

I was talking with JC about hominids.  He said he was discussing an article on fossil findings with Rivera, and Rivera said that all those would prove to be the leavings: not real ancestors of man, but those types that never really developed further. 

[The modern expression for this is “evolutionary dead ends.”]

JC said that Rivera and Orozco were really psychic, even about such things.  He said in many ways they were rather “brutish,” but they did have that psychic dimension.




Early May 1978
The difference between painters’ and critics’ comments: Rivera

A critic on Poussin offered lots of reasons for the new light tonality in some of Poussin’s work, e.g., getting it close to fresco.  Diego Rivera remarked on the same that Poussin used a light instead of a dark background.  That’s the more practical, artisanal way of the painter.  The critic can’t reach that level.




Early 1970s?
Diego Rivera

Rivera did not have a unified style.  He took elements from all over.  No real synthesis.  All done was done completely consciously.  No unconscious impulses.  Very interesting for that.

Like Le Brun or Vasari, could cover any amount of surface.




Early 1970s?
Orozco and Rivera

Orozco was “psychopathic” about Diego.  Orozco said in New York that Rivera would kidnap his wife and kids if he brought them to New York.

One shouldn’t take Orozco’s esthetic criticisms of Diego very seriously.  Rivera was eclectic.  He did get ideas from others; but that’s the way he was, like Raphael.




Diego Rivera

People are unjust to his Cubist period.  They tried to push him out of that chapter of art history as soon as he left.  But in later works on Cubism, he’s beginning to get more of his fair share.




June 19, 1971
Diego Rivera

I said Rivera’s allegorical subject matter was most important for him, but has been largely ignored.  People only look at work subjects, etc.  JC agreed.  He said Rivera was most impressed by Byzantine subjects; that was his turning point from pictures done for no audience (Cubism) to ones done for mass audience.




Diego Rivera

Angelina Beloff[137] gave Rivera’s Italian sketches to JC, writing that she wanted to give them to someone who would preserve and appreciate them.


Around same time mid-1970s?

Angelina Beloff gave the Italian drawings of Rivera to JC because she wanted to give them to someone who could be trusted to appreciate them.




About 1964
Diego Rivera

Rivera should have whitewashed some of his works before he died, e.g., monks playing with girls.




Early 1970s?
Diego Rivera

Diego was catty towards the younger artists.  At the time, JC couldn’t understand why.  Now he thinks it’s because he was shocked to find so many good artists in Mexico.  Diego was in his mid-30s; the others were younger “and could run rings around him.”




Undated, early to mid-1970s
Diego Rivera

Rivera wanted a halo of younger people around him, but it didn’t work, so he tried to crush them.  But he started by helping them: Mérida, de la Cueva, etc.  He gave them a salary for helping, which was useful.  Later this got in the way, because they were tagged as followers, but it was a nice idea to help them.  The people who were chosen for Diego’s group would go on to do their own painting later. 

But Rivera was really frightened by the younger men.  They were his equals as artists, and some had more “brilliancy.”  Rivera didn’t have that.  He was a plodder and didn’t have pleasantness.  Mérida was more brilliant.

Weston knows the later Rivera.  Weston’s artist friends in California were always making discoveries.  Rivera’s great discovery was that an artist could be a plodder, could go to work twelve hours a day, could keep working hours.  This was a great thing and a good model for the younger artists.  It also helped JC go on with same ideas he had in Paris: artisanship.




Early 1970s?
Diego Rivera

At first Rivera was uneasy about junior rivals.  Then he was uneasy about keeping jobs.  He was afraid the government might drop all the artists, and he managed to keep the thing going.

[JC was giving Rivera credit for what he considered a great achievement: preventing the destruction of all the murals and keeping the mural movement going.]




Early 1970s?
Diego Rivera’s politics

He had writers whom he would egg on; e.g., Salvador Novo wrote against Diego’s rivals, against JC.




Early 1970s?

The breakup of the early period of the Renaissance was due to no great plot, just little survival crises that overcame people.  This includes Rivera, who had no money.  Someone sent him $400 for a picture, and he painted a huge one.




Early 1970s?
Diego Rivera and Carlos Mérida[138]

JC and Mérida were the two artists who were less political.  That meant they were also more tied to courtesy.  They didn’t like people coming in all the time.  JC once scolded Rivera for coming uninvited.




Early 1970s?
Diego Rivera

Rivera liked JC’s life story so much that he adopted parts of it.  When asked about his life, he would recite stories from JC’s.




Early 1970s?
Diego Rivera

Rivera told JC he [JC] was a great sculptor.




Early 1970s?
Diego Rivera

Rivera one day told them he was going to show them how to do fresco.  He took watercolor paints and applied them to wet plaster!




Early 1970s?

The use of cement in fresco and the idea that JC’s fresco faded

It didn’t fade.  JC uses transparent colors.  The cement was only used at the bottom in any case.  The whole theory of cement making The Massacre in the Templo Mayor fade comes from Rivera.  Later Rivera used pure cement at the bottom, the dado, of his National Palace frescoes. 




Early 1970s?
Diego Rivera

Rivera tried for years to find a true fresco that had been done after the Colonial Period and before JC.  He spent lots of time on it and even went to little villages.  He thought he found a true fresco, but it was only lime tempera.  He thought Cordero’s murals might be true fresco, but they were tempera as well.  He couldn’t get over JC being first.




October 21, 1971
Orozco on Rivera

Rivera was working on workers before JC did Lavanderas and Cargadores.  But they were workers in the tropics: cane fields, etc.




Early 1970s?
Rivera’s destruction of JC’s 1923 fresco Dance of the Ribbons 

Rivera asked JC if he was against the destruction.  JC said: “I’m not.  But think of posterity!”  Rivera turned green.

Rivera said that he only wanted work panels in that patio.  After he destroyed JC’s dance fresco, Rivera put in lots of dances.[139]




Early 1970s?

JC designed a fountain for DR.




Early 1970s
Diego Rivera 

It’s unfair to Diego when people preferred JC’s art.  JC’s had more of the “sizzling” quality that is appreciated now.  Diego is colder, more studied.  JC likes that quality [he doesn’t particularly like the sizzle in his own art].  For instance, JC liked Ingres’ St. Symphorien best of all the works he saw on his 1968 trip.[140]




Early 1970s?
Diego Rivera and Lupe Marín

Rivera was prophetic in putting the severed head of her second husband on the cover of La Unica.[141]  He later committed suicide.  Rivera said he did it by castrating himself, but that was probably a tall tale.[142] 




Early 1970s?
Lupe Marín

She was a very intelligent girl and had a great sense of humor as seen in La Unica.




Sergei Eisenstein to Rivera

On looking at Rivera’s Russian sketches [big foregrounds; small, distant backgrounds], Eisenstein said, “Ah, I see you’ve been influenced by the movies.”  Rivera was very annoyed.




Rivera influenced by Weston

Weston was very important for Rivera.  He helped convince Rivera that reality was important; to accept all of reality.  He helped break Rivera’s tie to the Cubists and French influence.




Same time
Weston’s influence on Rivera

Rivera said that Weston’s paintings had helped him in recording textures.  JC adds: also in respect for reality.  He helped Rivera out of Cubism and a lack of respect for models, objects.




The World of… and Rivera

JC was so enthusiastic about the Time-Life art series World of… that he wrote them offering to write one on Rivera.  He never received an answer.  JC particularly liked the little black and white illustrations in the margins of the text.  He said: “It’s all really there.”[143]




Undated, mid-1970s
Bertram Wolfe

JC wouldn’t write anything against him because his wife was so charming.  She once came to JC to ask his advice: she wanted to know whether she should sleep with her husband’s friends.  They all said that she shouldn’t be faithful and bourgeois but should practice free love, and she loved only her husband.  JC reassured her.   




Early 1970s
Bertram Wolfe

Wolfe was a good reporter, a nice guy with a nice wife.

He was a communist before the separation of Stalin and Trotsky.  Then he became a Trotskyite.  Rivera was one too, so that brought them together.  Wolfe wrote the first Rivera book because Rivera was the most famous Trotskyite.  The second book was modified: less to the glory of Trotsky.

In between, Wolfe had become a Russian expert for Washington.

Wolfe wasn’t an artist and was not very interested in art.  In the first edition, he says he can’t speak about art.  He understood things as most people did then, and Rivera was an older man.




Undated, early 1970s?
Bertram Wolfe

Wolfe was not primarily interested in art.  He said so himself, that he was not a critic.  He was a Trotskyite and wrote about Rivera because he was the most famous Trotskyite. 




Undated, mid-1970s
Wolfe and Rivera

Bertram Wolfe didn’t like Diego Rivera’s Creation because its symbolism was too Christian.

Wolfe was in the New Workers School where Rivera did “alternatives” of the Rockefeller Center fresco.  This is not mentioned in books.




Early 1970s?
Frances Flynn Paine

Paine met Rivera, who had great charm, and fell under his spell.  She took down what he said and then wrote the preface to the MOMA show.[144]

Rivera was an incredible storyteller.  He invented in great detail, so it’s hard to see what is true.  Paine was simple enough to believe it.  JC was hurt by the preface because he liked her.




Early 1970s?
Leah Brenner’s An Artist Grows Up in Mexico[145]

She took down all Rivera’s tall tales.  She thought she had a best seller; then at the last minute, Rivera said, “But of course, don’t use my name!”




4.3.         José Clemente Orozco



Orozco’s Background

The real background of Orozco is in nineteenth-century newspaper cartoons.




Orozco’s Cartoons

The Machete cartoons are his last.  Orozco was good at that type of cartooning.  When he tried to pass the same impulse into a German Expressionist style, he lost a lot.



Orozco as a Cartoonist

Orozco didn’t want people to speak of him as a cartoonist.  He got mad when JC published one in Mexican Folkways.[146]





JC and Orozco never studied El Greco together.  They didn’t even have photographs.  JC can’t imagine Orozco studying El Greco.  Orozco’s sources are nineteenth-century cartoonists.[147] 




Orozco’s fresco innovation

The technical innovation that enabled him to bend fresco to his style was using lime for highlights, rather than white reserves [unlike JC].



Early 1970s?

Orozco was a technical innovator.  He used fresco in his way: secco effects to express his particular dynamic way of painting.




May 23, 1997
Orozco’s technique

JC thought Orozco had very poor technique.  As a result, his frescos are continually needing restoration work. 




June 24, 1971
Orozco and fascism

Orozco put a swastika in his 1924 fresco Social and Political Junk Heap.[148]  Nobody knew what it was.  When asked, Orozco said, “Oh, it’s something going on in Germany now.”[149]




Early 1970s?
Orozco’s marriage

Orozco said his wife’s brother was the best shot in the Revolution.  So when the brother came for him, Orozco thought he was dead.  The brother said: “Orozco, when are you planning to marry my sister?”  Orozco said, “Tomorrow!”

The muralists were eating when Amado de la Cueva entered.  He said he’d just seen the strangest thing.  He’d been held up by a large procession of a marriage party with lots of coaches.  “And I looked at the groom, and who was it?  Clemente!”  Orozco hadn’t told anyone.[150]





Orozco was often at JC’s and his mother’s for meals.  JC and he would go to get the latest editions of the newspapers to see how his cartoon came out.  Orozco was lonely.

Orozco was hypnotized by the idea that Rivera was after him.  He thought he would be assassinated and was afraid for the safety of his family.




October 21, 1971

In his letters, Orozco was not making fun of Delphic Studios group.  They really were bizarre types.  They were all reproduced in Patrick Dennis’s Auntie Mame: the Greek Orthodox bishop who couldn’t speak any languages, the guru [Claude Bragdon] who sat on the floor.  One day the bishop presented Mrs. Sikelianos with a fragment of the True Cross in recognition of her efforts for Greece.  It was the last thing she had in mind.  She wanted to revive the pagan mysteries.





The Delphic studios were portrayed in Auntie Mame.   For instance, the bishop who doesn’t speak English was a Greek Orthodox bishop who presented Mrs. Sikelianos with a fragment of the True Cross in recognition of her accomplishments.   




Orozco and women

Orozco told JC in New York, “You be careful here.  If you sleep with a woman, she writes a book about it.”




February 11, 1971 (earlier conversation)
José Clemente Orozco’s Revolutionary Series

Anita Brenner got Orozco to do his Revolutionary Series [Los Horrores].  Orozco was in bad financial trouble.  Brenner had money and wanted to pass it to him without offending him.  She invented a buyer in the U.S. who was interested in pictures of the Revolution.  She bought them as Orozco produced first ones.




Early 1970s?

JC wanted Orozco to do a lithograph series of the Revolutionary drawings, like Goya.  But Orozco didn’t like Goya; he said he was too soft.  JC thought it was “a mortal sin” esthetically that he didn’t turn the drawings into a lithographic series. 

Orozco was in the most arty circles in New York City.





JC nearly vomited when he saw Orozco’s first really “expressionistic” lithograph: Mexican Village.[151] 




Early 1970s?

Orozco was too old when he toured Europe.  He didn’t assimilate.  He just did Byzantine things.  It is very bad when he gets to German Expressionism.  He just puts things in to impress people.

Orozco was too humble.  He didn’t think he was good enough on his own, but wanted to be an international artist.  So he resorted to tricks.  He “thought he was putting something over on people.”  He had the feeling that he “wasn’t that good.”  But he was wonderful when himself.




May 3, 1971
Dive Bomber

JC thought it silly that Orozco created Dive Bomber for MOMA in different panels that could be arranged differently.[152]




October 21, 1971

Orozco was so mad at JC when people told Orozco that JC was trying to sabotage his exhibition that he was different with JC “for ten years afterward.”  Hanging the show was one of the first things JC did for Orozco in New York.  





JC very hurt by Orozco’s cutting him out.[153]




Orozco’s later relations with JC

JC had done a lot for Orozco.  He had hidden some of the Revolutionary Series drawings in his trunk below his own stuff, because Orozco worried about getting it through Customs [years before, Orozco’s artworks had been destroyed by U.S. Customs].  Doing this created a big psychological worry for JC. 

Also, JC had hung Orozco’s exhibition at the Art Students League, which opened on April 15, 1929.  The Revolutionary Series was put on a long wall because it was the best work in the exhibition, and the oils on a side wall that was smaller.  People told Orozco it was because JC didn’t want the oils to sell because they would bring Orozco more money.  Orozco half believed them and remonstrated with JC.

JC helped Tina Modotti do photographs of the Preparatoria frescoes.  He stood in one photograph to give the scale, and Orozco cut him out!

So JC was hurt when Orozco vetoed his getting a show at the Delphic Studios. 

Orozco was unsure of himself.  He thought he was putting one over on his admirers.[154] 





In Mexico after he had become successful, Orozco got a beautiful studio with a skylight.  But he then boarded it up with newspapers, saying he couldn’t paint with all the light streaming down.




December 11, 1970
Orozco’s Autobiography[155]

Orozco writes it all in such a low key that you wonder why he does it at all.  And his painting is so flamboyant…  

[JC explained that unless you knew Orozco’s accomplishments from another source, you wouldn’t know why you were reading the Autobiography.]




4.4.         David Alfaro Siqueiros




Undated, early to mid-1970s
David Alfaro Siqueiros

Siqueiros was different from Diego: a very irregular worker.  He “never finished” his work. 

Siqueiros was interested in problems.

When Siqueiros and Orozco were fired, the government wanted Siqueiros to refund the money he’d been given.

The president of Mexico, Plutarco Elías Calles, was a great friend of Siqueiros.  He remitted the money Siqueiros owed the state.  The governor of Guadalajara was also a great friend of Siqueiros.  So no one could push Siqueiros around. 

Diego Rivera didn’t work against Siqueiros.  The bureaucracy was enough.

Rivera was afraid of Siqueiros, because Siqueiros had been in the army and had high friends.  Siqueiros could have “reverted to his army ways”; that is, shot Rivera.

Much later Siqueiros was in Chile.  This was after the plot to kill Trotsky.  Siqueiros had to get out of the country.  The government made him cultural ambassador to Chile.  Siqueiros came back much later. 

Siqueiros couldn’t do much for JC.  He could just protect himself.




December 5, 1975

JC was one person Siqueiros could rest with, “no, rest on.”  DZC once saw them when Siqueiros was crying on JC’s shoulders and JC was comforting him like a baby.  She had never seen that side of Siqueiros.

JC said it was partly DZC’s fault that she “lost” Siqueiros’s portrait of her.  Siqueiros sold it to a woman and told her to get it from DZC.  DZC should have just said she didn’t have it.  JC said he didn’t excuse Siqueiros, but he was in bad financial condition and needed food for himself and his boy.

[DZC had commissioned the portrait for Siqueiros and had agreed with him that she would pay for it in instalments.  He then sold it to someone else to get the money right away.] 

JC said some people express themselves in art, others in life [speaking of Oscar Wilde].  Siqueiros was the only person JC knew who did it in both.  He was always on.  Norman Pearson had lunch with him, and Siqueiros spoke marvelously of his work.  JC saw Siqueiros haranguing a shopful of barbers while he was getting a shave in a poor neighborhood.




December 5, 1975
Siqueiros and Orozco

JC said Siqueiros was the best storyteller he ever knew: a great stylist.  His memoirs should be published.

An example: Siqueiros and Orozco were having a violent, furious argument on a New York subway about the merits of Rodin.  The other passengers were getting worried because they couldn’t understand Spanish.  The two got off at their stop, and Siqueiros saw Orozco run off towards his apartment.  Siqueiros looked down and saw he was leaving little droplets of peepee behind him that were burning their way into the snow.




5.             museumS



Museums and murals

JC sent his Farmington fresco panel models to an architecture exhibition.[156]  They only wanted to show two.  That shows they had no idea of how a mural is put together.  Even though they are especially interested in the relation to architecture, they are still thinking in two-dimensional terms. 




June 19, 1971 and often
Artists and museum directors

In the history of art, it’s usually museum directors who persecute the artist.  You’d think they’d learn from history, but they keep on doing it.

[One of JC’s examples was the director of the museum in Aix-en-Provence who vowed that no work of Cézanne’s would ever enter his museum.  In fact, I don’t think there’s a painting there now.]




February 9, 1972
Museums: attributions and hangings

At one museum, visiting with a director, JC saw a painting labeled “Bonington.”  The director doubted it, and both examined the picture.  They found details that proved it to be American.  JC did a lot of research on it and found a New Orleans painter who specialized in Rembrandt themes.  JC deduced reasons why it was his and sent them to the director.  When he visited the museum some time later, the Bonington attribution was still there.

At the Fogg Museum [?], a Mexican gold circle from a cenote was hung wrong.  JC mentioned it to someone, and JC was called before a regular jury to explain himself.  When they found who he was, they calmed down.  JC’s argument was based on a clear horizontal line.

At another museum, a Franz Hals violinist was apparently toppling backwards.  JC righted the painting with his mind to a diamond shape, and everything returned to normal.  But the museum directors wouldn’t accept it.  JC thinks they thought it looked more modern toppling.  Hals did diamond-shaped paintings, but JC hadn’t seen one so large.




February 9, 1972
Museum misattribution of a Marcel-Lenoir drawing 

There was a Marcel-Lenoir drawing in the Brooklyn Museum.  It was labeled “Auguste Renoir.”  JC wrote the director saying it was signed ML and in his style, so they had better change the label.  In that case, they did.




February 20, 1972
At the Museum of Modern Art

Cézanne’s watercolor Rocks Near the Caves Above ChČteau Noir, ca. 1906, was hung upside down when JC saw it in their collection.  There was a great to-do to put it right.




6.             personal and LAST works



Early ’70s or even late ’60s
His health

JC told me that he had been feeling strange and anxious and had gone to see the doctor.  When asked to describe his symptoms, he had said that he was disgusted by things, like the oily surface on a cup of coffee; it gave him a feeling of nausea.  He said the doctor had not seemed surprised by this and calmly prescribed some pills.  But JC thought it was very odd to feel that way.




April 23, 1971

I said I was mentally paralyzed waiting for a break in my affairs.  “Yes,” said JC, “that’s worse than despair.”




May 12, 1972

When we were discussing my difficulties getting a teaching position, JC told me that he had worked twenty-five years outside of his field.  He was a painter but had to work as a teacher and could only be a “Sunday painter.” 




June 26, 1972
JC’s status as an artist

When he learned about a bad review by a reader of the Peter Morse catalogue for the Yale University Press, he said, “Before I was 70, I may have thought I was a minor artist.  But now that I’m past 70, I know I’m a major artist.”[157]  




Late October 1975
The thought processes of an artist

JC applied to the Institute for Advanced Research in Princeton because he really thought that he could isolate the mental stages he went through as he painted a picture.  He gave the project up when the fellowship was refused.  




Early November 1975
The lack of reviews of his books

I was surprised that his Artist on Art hadn’t been reviewed.  He said that The Mexican Mural Renaissance and The Academy of San Carlos[158] also hadn’t been reviewed.  He thought the Art Bulletin would have reviewed the latter, which was so specialized.  In fact, he hadn’t been reviewed since the 1950s![159]




November 21, 1975
Ken Johnson[160] and businessmen

JC and I ate at Fishermen’s Wharf.  Some business people were carrying on a loud conversation next to us.  JC said it was difficult living at Ken’s company camp [in Venezuela] where everyone was judged by their salary.

He said that he and Ken got along because each knew a world the other didn’t know.  They would let each other in on their respective mysteries.




December 5, 1975
JC’s “innocence”

I was disturbed that JC was going to keep his Two Hawaiian Plays at Topgallant.[161]  He said he had a sense of loyalty.  He said he wanted to preserve his innocence and trusting feeling in people.  I said he was setting himself up. 

One example of this was John Ormai, JC’s troublesome assistant on the Georgia murals.[162]  He had caused great difficulties and finally quit, saying that, as a pacifist, he refused to work on the World War II paratrooper panel.  He later wrote JC in Colorado Springs, where JC was the head of the Fine Arts Center, asking for help.  JC got him a job in Colorado Springs, although DZC begged him not to.  Once there, Ormai proved even more difficult than before.

Another example was R. B., who told JC he wanted a collection of JC’s paintings for his children, whom JC liked.  JC said he let B. have important works that he never would have given otherwise, and at low prices.  And then B. just turned around and sold them.[163]

JC said he’s making a list for the Charlot Foundation loan show and putting on it things he thinks people have sold. 




Late 1975 or early 1976
His watch

He’d thrown away a quite expensive watch when it had broken.  He said, “I thought it was a beau geste.”  I disagreed.  I thought it was a sign of fatigue.  I feel I have to be a counterweight in such cases.




May 31, 1976

We’d been discussing Kimi Takahashi’s Japanese poetry,[164] and JC got on the topic of writing.  He said that the highest regions of thought can’t be expressed in writing, but there should be some way one could put them down.  [He made a placing gesture as if putting down a row of things on a vertical wall.]

He didn’t like the Latin alphabet.  He said the alphabet had the advantage of being able to be easily reproduced, but now one can photocopy things, so that solves that problem.  He then got onto other subjects.




June? 1976
Evolution, spiritual movements, Darwin

He had just seen a television documentary on Darwin and the Galapagos.

––Odd that just where Darwin had had the idea that we came out of the sea, some animals are now returning to the sea. 

––The program had a shot of an animal that can control its heartbeat; can even make its heart stop.  JC thought of Indian holy men “so proud” that they can control their heartbeats even a little—and that little animal can do so much more!




June 25, 1976
On O. A. Bushnell and popularity

Bushnell gave a talk in which he said the publisher wanted him to put in 150 pages of love story and he did.  “You can’t compete with that!” said JC.  We were talking about the big commissions, agents, etc., of a successful sculptor, Edward Brownlee. 




Early July 1976
Local culture

JC was interested that after the Entebbe raid by the Israelis, Idi Amin had showed up in his Israeli uniform; he’d been trained by the Israelis.  JC said he’s very interested in those things in new black African nations that are different from everywhere else.  I said, like local cultures in my Georgia article.[165]  He said yes.

Watching the Democratic Convention, he said it was real local culture.  It had hangovers from earlier eras.  I said, “You should do a fresco on a democratic convention.”  He laughed and said yes.

He really liked the Humphrey speech; he thought it was a real old-time crowd rouser.




Early July (?) 1976
Bad mood

I remarked on the number of floods recently.  JC said, “Well, you know, God gets angry!”




Early July 1976

Watching the July 4 program of boats on television, JC said that continual talking by announcers is a hangover from radio.  They don’t trust the picture yet.




July 14, 1976
Ellery Queen

At the Friends of the Library Book Sale, he said it was his desire to make a complete collection of Ellery Queen.  He thought it was a very amusing idea.




July 16, 1976
JC’s portfolio Melanesian Images

I looked at the first finished proof; it was quite beautiful.

JC said Kistler is resisting it.  Kistler is now interested in doing things that look like color lithographs, but JC wanted this portfolio to look like drawings.




July 16, 1976
On DZC’s A First Book

I’d talked with DZC two days ago.  She had a choice of three: 1) strong flat colors, 2) weak flat colors, 3) “drawing.”  I urged 1), which was JC’s original idea.  She decided for that.

But JC was “already on another track,” as he said.  He found one would need an extra printing which would make it more expensive and wanted to do it cheaper.  So he “compromised”: part flat, part “drawing.”  That way he could use halftones and avoid an extra printing. 

The color areas were to be flat and all the “calligraphic” was to be in the “etched” lines.




Mid-July 1976
On his changing attitudes

JC said he thought it was about time to die because the things that he used to be able to take lightly, like stupidity, now made him feel very bitter 




August 6, 1976
Mars like human beings

I said I was frightened at the thought that Mars might have been a planet just like ours and was now in an advanced state of aging.  JC: “We’re used to thinking of them [planets] as different from ourselves, because they are bigger beings, but they have their youth and old age.” 




August 14, 1976
His death

He was going in for a nap.  I said, “We’ll probably be gone…” and didn’t add “when you wake up.”  He smiled and said, “Well then, adieu!”




August 19, 1976
DZC’s children’s book

Kistler’s shop ruined JC’s drawn (non-tusche) version by over-etching.  So JC has gone back to the tusche version, which should be “foolproof.”  If that printing goes wrong, he will get the litho-engraved outline from Kistler and do the color with silk screen at Honolulu Sign Company.

JC had also sent them two layouts for the text and they’d got both wrong.




August 19, 1976
JC’s collaborators: Kistler and G.

JC said Kistler is getting so difficult.  Kistler thinks he’s become an artist.  Peter Morse’s book turned his head.  Also he’s become a mecca for other art people.  JC can’t work with him now.  He ignores JC’s instructions and makes unilateral decisions.  For instance, when he was sent the brown print of VAKATAGI DERUA:Musical Bamboo (Morse number 727), he said it was very good and he would print that last.  JC didn’t want it last.  It’s very hard to work when you have to fight your assistant all the time

The situation with the frame maker, G., was the same and finally had to stop.  I asked what had been said when JC went to pick things up from G.  JC said, nothing.  JC had just gone in and asked for all his things; he gave a list.  G. had just “looked funny.”  But he’d been rude and hadn’t done his job.  JC said, “When a craftsman doesn’t do his job, that’s the end.”  

I said JC should give Kistler fair warning.  JC said he can’t work that way.  He knows he can’t reform anybody.  When they go bad, he just has to leave them.  I thought of Isami Enomoto, the ceramic technician, telling David Asherman how he, Enomoto, had really done it all.  [I didn’t tell JC that.] 

I said, JC is so generous in his praise of assistants that they could get an exaggerated idea of their contributions.  JC said he was genuinely grateful for and appreciative of their help, “But they need me more than I need them.”


Kistler wrote that they’d correct the tusche if JC got it wrong.  JC wanted them to do it his way.  For Picture Book II,[166] JC already had to do things over because of tusche corrections at Kistler’s.  JC said he did it so carefully and with the edges so marked that he couldn’t see how it could go wrong.  He could measure it in millimeters.




August 26, 1976
Woodward and Bernstein’s The Final Days[167]

JC said really a perfect journalistic style—not one word too many.




August 27, 1976
Stone Age and wood—artists and craftsmen—Two Plays and the Academy of Arts 

At Orson’s restaurant, JC said he liked metal less and less.  That comes from working with wood and stone so much.  It reminded me of what he said on a TV show: that he and Charles Mack belonged to the Stone Age.

At the Artists Guild, JC talked to a man who does his frames and to an artist in wood, a friend of Evelyn’s.  JC said he preferred the former.

I asked how the fellow was doing his frames.  JC said OK, but the fellow is exasperated with JC the way JC is with his clients.

At the Academy, JC complained that his Two Plays was there in only one copy and really buried under everything else.  He said that, since it was a new book, they could have displayed it better.




Late summer 1976
Shaving lotion and getting old

JC came out of the downstairs bathroom to me at the dining room table and asked me if he was right that his MUSK shaving lotion had lost its scent.  I tried it and agreed.  He didn’t say anything, but I think he was wondering if he was losing his sense of smell.  I think he felt relieved. 

Some years ago, he told me he’d read a popular book for old people about aging, and it had said that they shouldn’t be surprised that food doesn’t taste the way it used to, that their taste buds were really fading.  JC indignantly denied that his were.  He is still very gourmet.  He made a joke the other day [mid-October 1976] that he was doing his French cooking at the little toaster oven, making his toast with cheese for breakfast.




September 10, 1976
On my keeping a journal

JC was talking about my conversation with the hula master John Ka‘imikaua.  He said I should keep a journal.  It would be very useful for later—as he had found with his diary.  I should write things down at the end of the day.[168]




Peter Charlot on my Chanting the Universe

Peter said he couldn’t see some of the connections.

JC said, “There are moments when the stage is empty.”

[I thought that a beautiful analogy, personalized for Peter, the dramatist and actor.]




Early October 1976

I was talking with JC on the lānai and Peter was making his beautiful drawing of Priscilla as she was lying in the hammock.  She was speaking to him with great freedom and animation.  JC looked at her and said to me, “You see how she is when she’s not around her papa.”




October 1976
Mural subjects: pa‘ū riders and Princess Ruth

JC said that pa‘ū riders were one of the subjects he had really wanted to do in a mural but had never had the opportunity.[169]




Mid-October 1976
Damage in Georgia Retrospective[170] shipment

We got the damage report of the things that went to the University of Georgia.  He said a number of things were already damaged.  But the two big paintings they’d sent separately had certainly been damaged in transit, and he very much regretted sending them.




December 1976
Working with steel plates for Melanesian Images[171]

He said he didn’t like working on steel plates so much because it didn’t give him enough control.  He said the plates gave it an “accidental quality” which many moderns liked but which he didn’t.




January 6, 1977
JC rounding out his knowledge of art history

I told JC I was reading some books on Palladio, trying to fill in the gaps, trying to find the missing links in my knowledge of art history.  JC said he felt the same way, that there were several people about whom he hadn’t thought a lot, whom he thought he could do without, but now is interested in; e.g., Bernini.[172]




January 15, 1977
On my work

Just before my parents left for Tahiti in January 1977, my book on Sāmoa was rejected by the Bishop Museum Press on the grounds that it was cultural, esthetic, and literary (etc.), and they were concentrating on anthropology.  JC felt very bad.  He said they should see that it was something really new and should be supported.  He offered to take it to show the people in Tahiti who are starting a new press.  He hates to do that sort of thing, so he later urged me to take it somewhere else, thinking that there really isn’t much hope for Tahiti since the book is in English, among other things.  But I said I would like him to try, so he took it along with him.

When the Chico State people I gave a talk to (on Hawaiian religion) were so appreciative, JC was happy.  He said that now I’m a middle-aged scholar, I might find young ones who would be interested in following my lead, that the old ones were so set in their ways that they might not be so interested.  I wasn’t happy to be called middle-aged.




January 15, 1977
Kistler’s failing with DZC’s A First Book

All through the time between the return from visiting Ann in 1976 and leaving for Tahiti in 1977, JC was thinking and talking about Kistler’s finally “confessing” that he couldn’t get an edition out of the line plates for DZC’s book.  JC had written him several times that the prints were uniform, but had never been able to get a straight answer out of Kistler.  I told JC he shouldn’t have gone on before he received explicit assurances from Kistler, and JC admitted that was true.  JC said that he’d spent a year working on the plates—hard physical work—and that he felt that at this stage of his life he couldn’t afford to lose that year.  He was also worried that Kistler said he’d had good photos made of the plates; he was afraid Kistler would try to palm them off as genuine prints.  Also, Kistler has apparently been selling some of his things to the Smithsonian, and JC thinks he might have sold some of these plates.

JC worked out a deal to offer Kistler: Kistler would simply let the children’s book go, and JC would finish Melanesian Images.  I urged him first to work out the problems with Melanesian Images:

Kistler has been printing without go-aheads from JC.  Colors have been wrong and sometimes printed twice.  JC is worried about Kistler’s printing whole edition right through without getting each print right first.  Kistler sent one print to JC, and JC sent him a corrective plate because the color was wrong.  Kistler wrote back that the corrective plate didn’t make any difference.  JC couldn’t figure that out.  Then he learned that Kistler had printed through that color twice to make it darker, so, of course, the corrective plate didn’t show. 

DZC called Kistler and told him of the deal.  Kistler said: “I don’t know.  I’ve already put a lot of work into the children’s book.”  DZC told him that none of his work could be used.  He said he would think about it.




January 17, 1977
News and “the world”

When JC came back from Venezuela in December 1976, he stopped watching the evening news on TV, which he’d always done before.  He said he had “given up the world.”[173]




March ? 17, 1977   (typed January 7, 1978)
Simplified images lasting longer

We went through some student drawings done after a class looked at the Leeward Community College fresco.[174]  These were grade-school students, but they did remarkable likenesses of the fresco.  Some showed a real understanding of the forms of the figures.  JC was delighted: “It’s nice to know that a simplified image can stand longer than anything else.” 




March ? 17, 1977   (typed January 7, 1978)
Religious and psychic experiences

When I was getting into Hawaiian religion, JC talked to me a little about some of his experiences.

When he was in Mexico, some of his Maya Indian friends invited him to participate in their big ceremony.  He refused because he was Catholic, but he was flattered because there were a lot of people who wanted to attend but weren’t allowed to, anthropologists and the like.  One man had tried to see it and had disappeared.

Luz once approached him for advice.  She’d been asked to sacrifice Concha, then an infant, at a ceremony.  JC advised against it.  Later he discussed religion with Luz’s mother, a knowledgeable Aztec woman.

Mlle. Marchais, the old woman JC knew in France, was a true mystic.  He thought she practiced bilocation.  Once he came in to visit her when she was just “coming back.”  He said she was in a daze.

As a boy, JC had gone through a period when his dreams were continuous (1911); that is, they would take up the next night where they had left off the night before.  He used to do “scientific experiments” with them.  He could control them: put himself into situations and experience them.  For instance, he wanted to know what it would feel like to have his head cut off, so he dreamt it.  Also, jumping off high buildings.  He got quite engrossed in these dreams and used to go to bed early to be able to start them sooner.  Then one day he was riding with his Uncle Labadie in the park and mentioned them.  Labadie reacted violently saying, “That’s impossible, young man!”  So JC stopped them.  He thinks it’s good that he did.  He was getting too absorbed in them and doesn’t know where it would have ended.[175] 

A lot of the Mexican muralists were taking marijuana and peyote.  JC says he didn’t.  Rivera at one time was on drugs.[176]  




May 18, 1977 
St. Francis Hospital statue: Madonna and Child[177]

After funeral mass there, JC took me to see his Madonna statue.  He said he’d remembered it as very staid and normal but, on reseeing it a while ago, thought it was very exciting.




July 20, 1977
JC’s Ala Moana sculpture[178]

I said I’d heard an esthete from the Art Department inveigh against that sculpture.  JC said, “Well, you know it’s awfully macho.”

He said Web Anderson in his critique had found the statue brutal.  JC was very confident about it.  

JC said it was just as important to see who the people are who dislike you as who like you.




July 20, 1977
His painting

JC said he was working on his painting.  Working hard.  He said there was something really animal about it.  The work comes from the na‘au ‘guts’ in Hawaiian thinking.  His conscious mind just doesn’t function.  He finds it hard to find colors on the palette.  “I need a white and it’s right there, but I don’t find it.” 




Week of October 8, 1977
On sex

JC was saying that Captain Cook must have had sex with the Hawaiian princess because she was so beautiful and willing.  

I said, “You have to realize, hard as it is, that some people just aren’t interested in sex.” 

“Ah,” he said, “I have to admit that, for that, I’m an animal.” 




October 9, 1977
Terence Barrow’s Captain Cook in Hawaii,[179] Island Heritage, 1976   

Barrow had pumped JC on all his Hawaiian sources on Cook.  He said he had come to agree with JC.  He told JC several times he had acknowledged his help, etc.  But Barrow doesn’t mention JC at all in the book.  He does refute all JC’s positions in footnotes!  But not mentioning JC makes it a little hard to understand.

JC said he liked the new visual pieces TB had used.




October 24, 1977

On his Daumier article: JC said looking at Gavarni illustrations that he couldn’t find one that could be analyzed geometrically.

On growing old: “Those changes go into the essence of one.  Our body really is part of us.  Not being able to move my big pictures makes a tremendous difference to me.”  

On his Mexican Mural Renaissance: “I used only about one-fifth of the documentation in the book.”

On the dealer who visited today: “He thought he was talking to a younger man.  He said we’d start with low prices and then build them up.”

DZC: “Poppa said, ‘My tomorrow is today!’”

JC: “He spoke as if Hawai‘i was nothing.  He said you are famous here, but not elsewhere.  Evelyn took him to see the Punahou doors.  He said, ‘We’ll make casts of these and sell them.  It will make Punahou School famous!’  Imagine, it’s been there one hundred years.”

On new Hawaiian Studies: he hoped the new archeologists would not just describe the external appearances of things, but try to get the “juice” out of them.  He didn’t like Peter Buck’s order, e.g., separating stone and wooden things.  I asked why.  JC thought it was a foolish question and answered, “Because sometimes they put the two together.”

DZC and JC are both down today.  JC said, “When that happens, we see how fragile our arrangement is.”[180]




November 9, 1977
On JC’s new multimedia, acrylic watercolor series 

JC said, “I can see that something comes out in them that is invisible in my better works.”

He dislikes the fact that people prefer them to his oils [he’s been selling some of the new paintings].

He says he puts tape around the paper to keep the edge clean.  It makes him think they’re prints.  He’s tempted to put the numbers in the bottom left corner.




December 1, 1977
Donald Posner, Watteau: A Lady at her Toilet[181]  

JC said it was a poor book.  The author didn’t see that Watteau had created a whole world that wasn’t there yet, the world of Louis XV.  It’s amazing to invent a whole world out of one’s head (see pp. 52 f., 59 f., vs. 94).  Posner says Watteau’s Reclining Nude (pp. 34 ff.) is unfinished, but it’s actually finished, just painted in an amazingly bold manner.  JC saw the original.  He says the dark background might have been painted later to hide the maid administering the clystŹre.

JC said “un peu berger” (p. 41) should be translated “a little galant”, not “rustic,” as Posner does.




End of December 1977
Big serigraph, Hala Grove, Kahuwai, Puna, Hawaii (Morse number 748)

JC said it was interesting from the technical point of view; he’d had to use special presses, pulleys, etc.  He was happy to have done it for that, but doesn’t want to do another big one, except on commission.  But he said that hesitantly, so DZC and I both said we thought he should do another one now that he was in the mood.

I said I thought of a big mountain.  JC said that was what he was thinking of.  I showed him the picture of the top of Mauna Loa in Robert Cameron’s Above Hawaii.[182]  JC said, “Yes, that’s it.”

[I thought maybe that would get him thinking about it.][183]




December 31, 1977
His health

Talking about his health, he said that when he gets down, he just gives up hope and lies down.  Especially, can’t work and that’s bad.  Today was the first day he’d “put pencil to paper.”  But then he said it seemed to work, because when he collapsed in bed, he felt better. 

The day before, he’d said that on the previous day, he’d weighed under 120: 119.  That had alarmed him, so he’s eating more.

I told him he was a “mauvais malade.”  He played with his health, like fishing—let it out as far as it goes, then get alarmed and reel it back in.  He said, “I don’t do much reeling in.”




January 1, 1978
A. S. Harris’ Selected Drawings by Gian Lorenzo Bernini[184]  

JC said the ones for St. Theresa were the best.[185]

He agreed with Harris that the portrait of Clement X shows little interest.[186]




Early January 1978
Bernini and old age

JC was re-reading Chantelou.[187]  He said he understood a lot of things better this time.  Bernini was youngish by our standards (early 60s), but because of mortality rates then, he seemed very old to people.  People acted older because they thought they were nearing the end of life (one had the same life cycle in acting as now, but just went through it quicker).

Bernini was very gutsy.  He said to the king’s physician: “Despite all your efforts, my King [the bust he was making] will live longer than yours.”  An astonishing thing to say at the time.[188]




End of December 1977
Pierre Corneille

JC said Corneille “gives on”[189] classicism, but has “all the fantastic stuff of the earlier period.”  

Corneille wrote lines to be spoken, and they work wonderfully for that, especially in the declamatory, broad acting style of the time.  His style also works perfectly in the architectural settings of the time. 




Early January 1978
Pierre Corneille and his epoch

JC compared Corneille to Poussin and the architects of the time: “They were all looking for the same thing.”  That was the idea of order as opposed to the asymmetry that Bernini was trying to push on them.




January 1978
Nigel Cameron: Barbarians and Mandarins: Thirteen Centuries of Western Travelers in China[190] 

JC  said the book was “wonderful.”  




February 4, 1978
Gervase Mathew’s Byzantine Aesthetics[191]  

He liked the book a lot.

He mentioned with interest the philosophical idea that art gives unity to diversity, e.g., in colors: use lots of colors but put them together in a way that achieves unity.  And to do this, colors are used completely unnaturalistically, e.g., pp. 159 f.




March 1978
JC and DZC on the Hawaiian featherworker Johanna Cluney

They saw her in the hospital, but she was already in bad shape, on her stomach, with tubes, her eyes closed.  She said, “I don’t care who that is, just so it’s not my son.”  DZC: “If you open your eyes, Johanna, you’ll see it’s us.”

JC said she looked very aristocratic in death.  DZC: the members of her society guarded the coffin with ceremony.  All wore lei, etc.  Lots and lots of birds around.

Johanna asked that “The Old Bird of Paradise” be inscribed on her tombstone.  JC: “That translates as ‘Ka manu makua o ka lani.’” 

At the wake, her son shouted at the body to get up.  JC said he comforted the family about that action by saying that after a death, all the kapu are off.




March 1978
Paintings and prints being done together[192]

He said this was the first time that he had done the same subjects in two media like that––so close together in time.  I said he might be working out the frustrations he was feeling with his helpers on the prints.  He laughed.




March 1978
Print of Fijian nun on trip, On the Go (Morse number 750), done as a class demonstration at the Art Department, University of Hawai‘i   

JC said he put more than usual of the basic drawing onto one plate to make it easier for the students working on it.




March 6, 1978
Current work with Kistler and parallel oils, UHM

JC said there are still more problems.  It is really very tiring to work with Kistler.  Kistler wants to print up the whole edition without sending trial proofs to JC so he can check them.  That means JC might have to do another corrective plate.[193]

Three are done [Morse numbers 725, 726, 727].  They are still working on nun plaiting [Morse number 731].  JC wants to tone down the shadow plate to reduce contrast in the face, which JC said “offends” him. 

JC showed me two paintings—one of nun going off on trip, profile [On the Go, Fiji; checklist number 1363].  The subject would have been the fifth print in the series.  The second painting is of the nun plaiting––which gives his ideas [Nun Plaiting Mats, Fiji; checklist number 1361].[194]  The oils are all based on yellows. 

At the University of Hawai‘i Art Department, students were helping with the lithograph [On the Go, Fiji; Morse number 750].  JC said it was simple, but as he described it, it sounded very complicated.  He said the oil gives ideas he couldn’t put into the print.  Noreen Naughton said the students were doing a lot of work on the printing.

JC said he understands Kistler’s thought processes: someone told Kistler that JC’s work was “strong,” so Kistler always tries for strong contrasts, etc.  The problems started with Picture Book II[195] when Kistler printed a blue plate green because he thought it looked better.

In the print for the Charlot Foundation [Little Seamstress; Morse number 713], JC wanted a delicate effect like the Maurice Denis prints, in which the paper would count for a lot.  But Kistler printed it all “strong.”  JC saved the print, but it wasn’t what he had planned.




March 14, 1978
Kistler collaboration

DZC said JC had nearly shouted at Kistler on the phone when Kistler printed the whole edition of the war club print with two wrong colors: “I told you not to print the whole thing.” 

JC went right to work on corrective plates, and DZC sent them off this morning. 




March 24, 1978
Melanesian Images

JC says he feels that the portfolio is very important for Melanesians themselves, because no one has really done them, though some work has been done on Polynesians.

JC is sorry that he is not getting much response from Melanesians themselves.  He sent all the necessary materials to a Fijian to do the correct titles, etc., and hasn’t heard from him.  And now Kistler wants to go ahead and print the lithographs. I said he should be patient with South Sea Islanders.




March 24, 1978
Melanesian Images

Problem: The means were not good because there were so many corrections.  So it came out OK, but is somewhat dissatisfying technically [and thus esthetically].

The fewest corrections were necessary on the bamboo player (TUKU DERUA: Bamboo Pipe Player; Morse number 725), but there were still too many.  He had to correct several plates.  It should have been done with only a few printings.  There were two printings of the green instead of one: tint as well as line on purple [it should have just had line]. 

The worst for that was the Kawa Ceremony (QARAVI YAQONA: Kawa Ceremony; Morse number 726); “Seven or eight printings, which was ridiculous.”  “I was desperate about it.”


Pipes player (VAKATAGI DERUA: Musical Bamboo; Morse number 727)

Kistler printed one plate twice.  JC sent him two colors, brown and orange.  The brown came out totally different because Kistler printed it twice.  

Kistler gave the helpers the role of retouching the tusche.  They went into the crayon with their corrections and spoiled things, so JC did an allover tint to correct the print “as far as I could.”  “But it came out nice, I think.”


Nun (TALI IBE: Weaving Mats; Morse number 731) 

JC was working with silk screen at the time, so he started Nun thinking of that medium.  He used heavy black lines where he would have cut the screen, which wasn’t necessary in lithography.

Kistler sent a yellow that was greener and darker than what JC had asked for, and the blues were much lighter.  So JC worked it over with a second blue that went over the light blue, modeled the flesh, and put more shades on the mat than originally [this was necessary to take off greenish tinge].

Club (TAGANE DAURAVURAVU: Ancient Warrior; Morse number 749) is not finished yet.




Around March 24, 1978
Club (Ancient Warrior), lithograph and oil

I said he seemed to have two minds about the subject as reflected in the two media:

1) to emphasize the bulk of the subject—by “monochrome”

2) to emphasize the energy radiating from it—by color 

He didn’t quite see it that way, although he thought the monochromes [my word] “stronger.”

On the oil with color: his impression of Fijians, as received from an old book he has on them, is that they have a tough outside “but something very soft inside.”  He wanted to suggest that with color. 

On the lithograph: it will go to color so that it will fit with the rest of the portfolio.  “I’m fitting it in with the others, working like an interior decorator.”

I urged him to do a “monochrome” edition with the same plates.  He thought he couldn’t because it wouldn’t be fair to the people buying the portfolio, but he said he might consider doing a silk screen of the subject.  




March 24, 1978
Next print project

I suggested doing a silk screen.  JC said that would be necessary because he can’t work with Kistler anymore.  I thought of a big one like the Hala Grove, but of a big, bulky volcano.  JC said he’s thinking along the same lines.




March 26 and 27, 1978
Rainbow roller

I said that in a Tamarind article, the author claims to have invented the rainbow roller himself.  JC: “That’s the sort of thing people say when they don’t know enough about the history of art.”  He showed me Toulouse-Lautrec’s Jane Avril––yellow-green-yellow––and showed me one he had done himself (Mayan Murals, 1935, lithograph, Morse number 250).

He said he hadn’t told Peter Morse that he’d done that one with India ink—they hadn’t had any of the regular, so he just used India ink.  He said it worked fine: less greasy even than regular ink.




March 27, 1978
Oil and lithograph of Fijian nun plaiting, TALI IBE: Weaving Mats   

JC said tipping the mouth of the Fiji bowl toward the nun established “a dialog” between them.  He thought it was funny that it would.




Early April 1978
Frank Lloyd Wright and murals

JC said he’d been mad when Wright said, “Poor walls,” on looking at a mural.[196]  So JC looked up early Frank Lloyd Wright buildings and found one early one with a mural of Aladdin’s Lamp!




April 4, 1978
His dreams

JC said that for some months now all of his dreams involve living in a pensione and the silly, embarrassing things happening to him there.  For instance, he arrives and finds he has to play a role in a play and hasn’t memorized his part.  All the dreams are like that. 




Early April 1978
Dreams, walking

Continuation of continuous dream he’s having of being in a sort of pensione: he’s going into gymnasium where “Body Encounters” were announced.  He found it was people lying on top of each other, but they’d fallen asleep!

He said, “Anyway, I walk very well in my dreams, I must say.”  [He’s having trouble with his walking now.]




Early April 1978

“Illusion is the reality for perception in most cases.”




Early April 1978
Joke based on art history

A woman was rhapsodizing over Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body, saying, “Isn’t it just like a Greek statue!”  JC said, “No, no, no…  Maybe Roman.”




April 4, 1978
Discipline in WWI army

JC was very young but in charge of an artillery company.  One day, he was very tired from pulling guns.  All the people in the company were hardy country boys, but JC was from the city and got weak.  So he lay down to rest, “probably languorously,” and asked a new soldier to do something.  The soldier didn’t know JC was an officer because he wasn’t wearing his stripes, so he told JC to go to hell very rudely.  Two of JC’s soldiers grabbed him and told him who JC was.  JC said the guy’s face literally turned green.  JC had to tell him in detail that it was all right.  “See, I have no insignia on my shoulders, none on my sleeves.  So you couldn’t have known I was an officer.”  The guy thought he was going to be shot. 




April 4, 1978
WWI army

When a junior officer, JC was razzed a lot in the mess hall by an older officer.  Instead of complaining, he remembered he could ask to be allowed to eat with the non-coms.  He did this, and it caused a furor.  The officer never bothered him again.




April 6, 1978
New silk screen: Lauhala, Kapakahi Stream, Kahala, Oahu (Morse number 751)  

JC showed me the first cut-out and then said, “Now I have to figure out what to do with it next.”  I asked what he meant.  JC: “Well, you know, those things have to be done in color.”




April 6, 1978
Richard E. Leakey’s Origins[197]

JC is enjoying the book although the layout makes it look like a non-book.  He was amused that one old skull has more brain-room than ours.  He said he was surprised about the large flint cutters that were non-functional––probably ceremonial or artistic.  JC had thought they were functional.[198]  




About a week before January 10, 1978  
JC’s future standing

JC said he wanted to put his paintings in Parke-Bernet because he won’t be around to see what will happen to the paintings afterwards.




Early April l978

Low prices for JC’s works at Parke-Bernet sale

He was very hurt by the low prices.  “That was terrible.”  He said he wouldn’t send them any more.  “I’m going to pull in my horns.” 

[Two paintings of Charlot’s Fiji subjects were offered at auction in Modern Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture: Friday, January 19, 1979, Sotheby Parke-Bernet, Inc., New York:


Signed and dated 1978

oil on canvas, 24 X 20 in. 


Signed and dated 1978

oil on canvas, 20 X 24-1/4 

The estimates of the paintings were $1,500/2,000 apiece.  David Zundel, a friend of the family, sent in a letter dated December 30, 1978, making a top bid of $6,000.00 for each painting.  At the auction, the top bid for 86 was $2,500.00, and for 87, $2,750.00.  After expenses, Zundel acquired number 86 for $2,750.00, and number 87 for $3,025.00, a total of $5,775.00.  When I inquired about the sale at Sotheby’s, Ms. Jessica Walker emailed me on April 7, 2011: “Unfortunately, we are not allowed to disclose underbidder information.  However, I can tell you that Mr. Zundel purchased the two pieces above the reserve.”  In his checklist at numbers 1361 and 1362, Charlot wrote “passed at auction.  Parke Bernet.”  I conclude that at least two bids were made by mail, but none at the auction itself. 

According to the catalogue, the paintings were both “Property of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Murray, Honolulu,” but Charlot had either arranged for them to be offered or was watching them closely.   He was wondering what prices they would get.  When I asked him why he’d sent them, he said that it was one of his few chances to see how he would be considered after his death.  He seemed to feel that was his last chance to see a turn-around while he’s alive.] 




April 1978
Diego Rivera and Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel

JC was furious at a letter of an art critic, saying he thought Rivera was influenced by Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel and asking whether JC had relevant documents. 

JC wrote back that the critic should start by looking at evidence rather than by making up a theory.  Rivera knew lots of artworks and wasn’t influenced by just one.  He said he didn’t tell the man one bit of oral evidence.  While he was painting the mural in question,[199] Rivera told JC that he’d taken the lower part of it from the chapel.  JC thought the critic was being too simplistic and pedantic.




April 19, 1978
His physical condition

He said his head feels tired.  He finds the weather very heavy.  He didn’t want to give me an interview because he’s reserving himself for his art work.




Late April 1978
Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus[200] and learning from critics

JC said he hadn’t realized that the subject was the moment when they recognized Jesus.  He said he learned this from reading an art historian on the painting.[201]




April 19 or 20, 1978
Choris and his Choris and Kamehameha[202]

He thought of putting Choris and Kamehameha into his two volumes of essays,[203] but he didn’t because it was still in print at the Bishop Museum.  He’s now sad that he didn’t do that, because the press let it go out of print.

JC researched Louis Choris in the New York Public Library, Russian Room [Slavic and Baltic Division], and found that Choris did a volume on Russian peasant costumes and was going to do one on Mexican costumes when he was killed.  “I don’t know how the guy could do so much in so little time.”




April 19, 1978
Guggenheim Museum

I expressed some admiration for the building. 

JC said he just didn’t like it.  The first time he went, he descended the stairs and went to the guard and asked without thinking, “Where do I escape?”[204] 




April 19–20, 1978
JC’s new oil: Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well[205]

JC asked me to look at his drawing.  He said it was between A. Carracci (some of whose works are “proto-Poussin”) and Poussin.[206]  He said he was looking at both when he composed it. 

The composition is based also on a Catholic cartoon he did (2/24/78).  He said he gridded it and traced it so as not to “lose” it: the spirit [my word] of the composition that was in it.

JC is composing for an oil, but also for a possible fresco at a drinking fountain for the priest we sat next to at the recent Maryknoll School awards dinner.  But JC will be able to do more details in the oil.  The colors are very Poussinesque.  JC would also try to work them with fresco.  




April 24 or 25, 1978
His pain

He said the doctors had wanted to give him something to kill his pain, but he’d refused because he wanted to know what was going on in his body.  He had felt real pain earlier, now just some discomfort.




April 28, 1978
Being Poussin

I asked for an interview.  He said he’d pretend he was “Mr. Poussin” while he was painting (he’s currently doing a “Poussinesque” painting).[207]




May 4, 1978
Lauhala, Kapakahi Stream, Kahala, Oahu (Morse number 751) 



The print needs more leeway in cutting.  JC cut it a little too tight as he used to do with the Mexican fellow who had a hand press.  But here there’s a rotary press and the printer needs more room on it.  So the artist has to give his fellow worker more room for play.


May 4, 1978

Ivins—we just found his dedication of his book to JC.[208]   JC hadn’t remembered they’d had such a close relationship. 




Early May 1978
JC’s oil painting Hala Leaves and Black Lava, Kapoho, Hawai‘i [209]  

JC said it’s a true easel painting.  Usually his paintings have a muralistic aspect.  He was happy that the Hawaiian poet Larry Kimura had recognized it as Puna.




Early May 1978
Caravaggio and Siqueiros

JC said Siqueiros was very much like Caravaggio when young.  At times, he was difficult.  After his attempt on Trotsky’s life, Anita Brenner said, “It’s hard going on as his friend when he does something like that.”

JC said Caravaggio was not neurotic, just “a simple man who couldn’t fit in.”




Early May 1978

Of all the artists, he is nearest to Rimbaud as a personality. 




Early May 1978?
Feet in Caravaggio and A. Carracci with reference to the idea of symbolism in JC’s art

JC said Caravaggio got so enthusiastic about the dirty feet of the peasant.[210]  He really got interested in them, whereas Carracci was quite different.  A critic wrote, “The dirty feet in the painting by Annibale Carracci show that the person is a pilgrim.”  JC: “And that’s just it.  That’s all there is.”  JC’s point: In Carracci’s art, the feet show something rather than being something.  Carracci is interested in them only for another point, not in themselves as Caravaggio.  JC said this shows the real difference between a genius like Caravaggio and a good painter like Carracci.[211] 

JC said the same thing comparing Van Gogh and Munch: Van Gogh could make the point simply by painting a peasant’s shoes.  Munch had to introduce a lot of dramatic stuff. 




May 12, 1978
Present plans

We were discussing his reading for his stay in the hospital next week.

I suggested going through Fornander in Hawaiian.[212]  He said that would give him too many ideas he couldn’t work out.  I said he shouldn’t try to predict the time of his death.  He said, “Not that, but my head is just buzzing with other things now.”




May 12, 1978
The cover of Peter Morse’s Popular Art: The Example of Jean Charlot 

JC said the cover was printed with too much pressure so it “shows the work too much” [the shallower lines that shouldn’t appear].

He says the text somewhat better than the typescript I read, but he can “forgive everything” when he sees the nice format of the book.




June 2, 1978
JC’s last silk screen, Lauhala, Kapakahi Stream (Morse number 751), and silk screen in general

JC said the last two days with Martin were one of the most exciting printmaking experiences he’s had.  He had more or less to redo the whole print.

He said silk screen printing is one of the most exciting experiences you can have, because you can’t go over it again like lithograph, and the finished effect comes suddenly all at once.

He says he can’t understand why people don’t think the medium is aristocratic.  Kistler said, “Why are you doing those low-grade things.”  JC: “And he meant it.”

I said, “You certainly get exciting effects.” 

JC: “Nobody’s got them before.”

He showed me two colors (hala roots and clouds) and said, “Those are colors that don’t exist.  That one (lighter) is two tones, and that one (darker) is three.”




First week of June 1978
Seriousness in art and Claude Horan

I said Horan was too funny.  JC said, yes, “He lacks the seriousness which, for me, is necessary for great art.”




First week of June 1978
On JC being a major artist

I told him about Ninotchka Rosca asking me if I really thought JC was great.  I said yes, and she said, “I think he is too.”

JC: “I’ve gradually come around to that opinion, but it took me some time.”  He said he was bothered by the fact that he worked in so many fields, which is “usually” the mark of a minor artist.




Early June 1978
Recent prints

The UH students put their hearts into printing On the Go, Fiji (Morse number 750).  One of them is going to visit Kistler.

JC is interested in silk screen and is doing it differently from most.  Most do it in brush, freely, and wait to see how it turns out.  JC does it cutting, “more Poussin,” and works it out intellectually.

But he misses the stone—it was wonderful working with one at the UH print shop.

He doesn’t like the new aluminum lithograph plates.  Zinc already cut out some things you could do, but aluminum cuts even further.  “Obviously it was only meant for photomechanical reproductions.”




June 26, 1978
Comparing his own art to Martin’s

JC said it was strange for him to see that what he himself did with so many detours and “deception,” Martin does with much more straightforward means—he just projects photographs and draws. 

Stylization: JC spent much effort on creating a style.  Martin has a style, “but I can’t tell where it begins.”

Simplification: A mural has to carry, and JC did this by simplifying.  Martin keeps things very complicated, but they still carry.  For instance, the bamboo in Kāne‘ohe mural––by all rights they shouldn’t carry, but they do and work well.

Martin’s points: He makes them much better in painting than in words (we all thought he came off too polemical in his TV interview, too anti-abortion).  JC: “Martin’s point is made in the infinite care he lavishes on every little object, showing how it’s beautiful and important.  That’s a point that goes beyond words.”

JC feels that the Kāne‘ohe mural is more successful than the one at Konawaena; the style and content (Christianity) go better together.  I said that the Palolo Chinese Old Men’s Home mural must have taught Martin not to press the overt Christian symbolism.  JC: “Yes, that one really didn’t work.”  I think Martin saw that too.




Early July 1978
Feeling “cheated” about Maigret

He said he’d started the Maigret journal to do the Hawaiian section.  Now that he won’t be able to do it [because he started with the pre-Hawaiian section], “I feel cheated.”




Early July 1978
Tortillera Lesson[213]  

JC is doing a copy of it.  The original was painted for his 1968 Mexican Retrospective.  He had done it to épater les Mexicains—dramatic, splashy.

[Arthur and Katherine Murray wanted to do some publicity for JC, so they arranged with their friend, Merv Griffin, to have a major painting unveiled on his television program and given to him.  JC was amazed that this new version was so calm and peaceful.  He also found amazing the difference between his mood in 1968 and the mood he was in now.] 




July 3, 1978
Ron Tyler’s visit

Ron Tyler said that JC’s article  “got us going” on the Posada show.[214]

Tyler said that he first ran across JC when researching Choris for an introduction to a translation of Choris’s book.  He said he wouldn’t have had anything to say on Choris if it hadn’t been for that book.

Tyler said JC’s “collection” of Posada items has items he hasn’t seen elsewhere, and they’re in good condition.




July 3, 1978
JC printing Posada

JC pulled some Posada proofs himself from blocks for the Metropolitan Museum.  He was asked to mark that fact on the proofs but refused.  He later thought that people might forget it, so he did mark them.




July 4, 1978
Metropolitan collection of prints

JC was given $400.00 to buy prints when he went to Mexico in the 1940s.  Because of his contacts, he came back with about $10,000.00 worth.  He asked that the two sets be kept apart with some record of his, but they both got lumped together.

He spoke to Hyatt Mayor later, who asked whether JC wanted him to go through them making the separation.  JC said not to worry about it.  But later Hyatt Mayor seems to have put all in JC’s name.  Ron Tyler told us that.[215]




July 17, 1978
Maya painting, J. Eric S. Thompson, and Michael D. Coe: Lords of the Underworld[216]

JC said that Coe is awfully sassy about Thompson, who is his main source.  It’s silly.  And Coe says all chaotic, etc., but the Mayans were mathematicians, so they had a certain sense of order.  They were also symbolic: beheading of year, not a person, etc.

No one has really studied Mayan figure painting; it’s great.  It has none of the difficulties of the Greeks or the Egyptians.  Only some nineteenth-century academicians were able to do the same complicated things.  Examples (plate 1):

––in the beheading group, the line of the shoulders of the “captive”: “old year” 

––the girl putting one finger on the foot of the girl in front of her.

[As he described them, JC’s hand moved caressingly over the forms.]




July ?, 1978
Donald Posner’s Annibale Carracci 

I thought Carracci’s Landscape with the Sacrifice of Isaac[217] was like JC’s Point Lobo painting of The Sacrifice of Isaac.  JC said he couldn’t remember the painting from the Louvre.  He was looking at earlier things then, but could have been influenced by a print.

JC compared Carracci to Picasso: he is less interesting in himself than as the beginner of new movements; that is, as an influence on others.  JC said maybe 200 years from now, someone will write a similar book, rediscovering Picasso.

I said the discussion makes the paintings sound so interesting, and then you turn to them and they’re so disappointing.  JC said, “Yes, he puts them together a little too consciously.”[218]




Late July 1978
Changes in his work and the Mexican Retrospective

He said his work was changing––his style.  He saw that when he was copying the big painting he did to “épater les Mexicains” for the 1968 Summer Olympics show.  He felt then that fame would finally come to him and was filled with a sense of grandeur, etc.  Now all that has gone away.




August 12, 1978

I said I was reading a book on the cartoons to try to understand RaphaĎl,[219] because I didn’t appreciate him.   

JC said he went to a church in Rome [the one with RaphaĎl’s attempt to copy Michelangelo] and “stood in awe” in front of the lunettes RaphaĎl had done; they were so beautiful in place.

The fake Michelangelo is poor.  RaphaĎl did it after sneaking a peek at Michelangelo’s work in progress in the Sistine Chapel.  RaphaĎl didn’t really understand what Michelangelo was doing.

The drawing RaphaĎl gave to Dürer and Dürer annotated as from RaphaĎl is not really by RaphaĎl but by his studio.




August 12, 1978
JC’s drawings from the Mérida Collection, auctioned in Los Angeles

In this and earlier conversations, JC said Mérida probably didn’t know about the sales, that it was the family trying to liquidate the estate before he died.  JC couldn’t understand why they sold the portrait.  JC didn’t remember the portrait; he thought it very good.

The drawing of the family with the baby was from his first season in Yucatán.  A number of these cursive sketches were turned later into watercolors and oils.  This is a mestiza family: the woman giving breast, the leopard hunters—both became motifs.

These were an artist-to-artist gift of artist’s drawings, not finished, saleable ones.  




August 30, 1978
Designing a new frame for his painting Jesus and The Samaritan Woman at the Well, to be executed by Alan Wilkinson

Wilkinson likes art nouveau; JC likes artifacts.  Put the two together in this frame and it becomes an interpretation of the seventeenth century.




October 15, 1978
Ex-voto style and high art

Talking about Titian, he said in his last painting there is a little ex-voto at the bottom right of Titian and his whole family.[220]  JC said he’d seen the same thing in one of the baroque churches we’d visited in Bavaria.  He said, “You always come back to the ex-voto as the best way to talk to God.”  




October 15, 1978
Baroque drawing

JC gets books on drawings of the Italian masters.  He likes the sixteenth- and fifteenth-century ones.  He takes the books down all the time to look at them.  But when he ordered the seventeenth-century one, he gave it “immediately” to Martin.  The book was filled with drawings for ceiling decorations by Tiepolo; JC said he just couldn’t stand them.[221]




October 24, 1978
DZC on JC: Health

DZC thought JC is looking better.  She told me that he said that he thought that if he kept working and trying, he could overcome his sickness.

Before, he had said he wanted to eat raw meat.  The doctor said no, but Jana Preis said that raw meat helped her when she had cancer.  So DZC is giving some to JC now.

I said that JC has a good body consciousness and we should give him what he wants.  He usually seems to know what he does need, and in any case, it would raise his morale.

[JC certainly kept on hoping.  I remember when the doctor changed something minor—like a hair tonic—JC told me he thought that would help with the sickness because the new pill was “a medicine.”  I couldn’t bring myself to agree.]




September 22, 1978
Painting the fresco Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well[222]  

Martin and JC were talking as they painted.  JC said to be sure the color was the same under the cloud as over so it would “float.”  Martin said he thought the color might have changed behind the cloud.  JC said, “My skies don’t!”

I talked to JC later and remarked on the vivid colors.  He said that was Martin.  He infuses a mood into the landscape “even when he tries not to.”  JC said he’d designed the mural for that, planning for Martin to do the background landscape.




September 11, 1978
A First Book 

JC still wants to do DZC’s children’s book [despite all the problems he was having with Kistler’s work].  He said it was very much occupying his thoughts.[223]

 [Another time, JC almost cried when he saw what Kistler had done and realized how much he would have to work to correct it.  “I don’t have so much time now.”] 




Early December 1978
JC’s sculpture Mary Our Mother at Maryknoll School[224] 

He said the width was very narrow.  It gives a Romanesque quality.




December 11, 1978
JC’s sculpture Ali‘i Nui at the Ala Moana Hotel

JC said he “went too far” in making the hands the same color as the club.  That loses the hands.  He should have made the club slightly darker.

[This was in response to my wondering whether he had ever done his “typical” hands in sculpture.][225]




Early December 1978

A follower of Posada created the print of Huerta as a spider and also the famous print of Zapata.




Late 1978
Martin and the history of painting

JC gives the art books with a predominance of pictures over text to Martin.  I asked if Martin really looked at them  JC said, yes, he does indeed.  JC says that he feels it really does broaden Martin’s style and way of doing paintings.




January 6, 1979
Movie Superman

JC thought there were too many catastrophes, especially at the end.  The small, quiet, personal parts were the best.

[He agreed with me that the cinematography had done a good job of mimicking a comic book style, e.g., monotone blue sky backgrounds.] 




January 6, 1979
Thomas Gould and his son’s feeling for him after his death

JC said he was touched when he read that Gould had left his knife stuck in the bas-reliefs and that the son had just left it there.  The son redid the reliefs. 




January 6, 1979
Hawai‘i as living

JC said he wouldn’t have gotten interested in Hawaiian culture if it hadn’t been for living Hawaiians, like the impressive old ladies he met, people like Jennie Wilson.




January 13, 1979
Fiji portfolio and cover (Morse number 734)

JC said it is “one of the best of my layouts.”




January 13, 1979

Odette, JC’s sister, had Mucha’s Four Seasons on her bedroom wall when they were young.




January 13, 1979

JC said he had not known Pierre Bonnard’s print La Loge.  He liked it, thought it strong.




January 15, 1979
My article “The Buddhist Works of Isami Doi”[226]

JC and I were talking about my article on Isami Doi.  He advised me to include the Zen potter, Shugen Inouye.  I should show that Christianity is not all there is here in Hawai‘i.   




January 16, 1979
JC’s sculpture Mary Our Mother at Maryknoll School  

“I went as far as I could with my little gray cells…” in planning the project—anything that could be devised in the head and sketches––“and I went pretty far.”

[Mr. Kamada, the construction man who came today seemed to be able to know just what to do.  This showed both that he was good and that the project plan was feasible.]


May 22, 1997

JC was worried about not being able to finish the project, so wanted a plan that others could complete.[227] 




January 18, 1979, and earlier

Mr. Kamada managed the construction of the Maryknoll statue.

JC liked him a lot.  He’s like the mason, Tanimoto.  He was a ceramicist, always did creative projects, marvelous man.  He got very excited about doing this project.  He’s not a contractor but works with his own hands.  Evelyn Giddings worked with him long ago, when she was a salesperson for Ceramics Hawaii. 

A couple of days earlier, DZC was remarking how nice and capable the man seemed.  “Well,” said JC, “he’s our kind of people.”




January 19, 1979
Maryknoll Statue, Robert Barlow, Goupil, Charnay

On my saying that the statue pieces look better even with this first firing, JC said, “Of course in those things, you think of solidity and bigness, and that happens only when it’s fired.”

Evelyn shouldn’t have invited the Maryknoll people to see the statue before it was finished.  JC worried that Father [Joseph] Matheis is now thinking of economizing on the landscaping, which is “very important.”


JC studied the original editions of the book on the Goupil collection when he was a boy; he had the two big volumes and the atlas.  The Goupil Atlas has poor photographs for today, but it is important because it was the very best they could do then.  JC’s drawn booklet was done directly from the originals at the BibliothŹque Nationale, not from the Atlas.  He used the Atlas at home when he was ten to twelve years old.  Then he went to the BibliothŹque Nationale; he studied there some years, hovering around. 

The big man was Désiré Charnay.  He would take JC out to lectures when he was very young.

JC is corresponding with a man who is checking up on Charnay’s Les anciennes villes du Nouveau Monde.  He mentions photographs in the book that JC has in his grandfather’s photo album.

When Charnay goes back to Mexico City to process the photographs, he writes he was helped by a young Frenchman named Louis.  This must be JC’s grandfather.  That is how they became friends.


One Goupil book for sale was from Robert Barlow, who taught JC Náhuatl in Mexico in the 1940s.  He committed suicide and left a note on the door in the language, Otomí, of the people who were coming to be interviewed by him that day.  It was sad that he committed suicide.  He was quite young and could have done wonderful things.

JC studied Aztec in the 1920s with Luz—but it was conversational Aztec.  He studied with Barlow in the 1940s.




January 19, 1979
On Hawaiian and Indian body concepts

JC said I should use Ananda K. Coomaraswamy’s book on Indian art and the body—a book he’s had “all his life”—to compare and contrast the significance each culture assigns to different parts of the body. 




January 22, 1979
JC’s physical condition, the Maryknoll statue

When I was putting JC to bed tonight, he said he felt he was on a downward curve in his health and strength.  He thought it odd that people asked him to shake hands with them less strongly.  He has kept his strength in his hands and arms because he has worked with them all his life.

He said it was just an accident that the hands and faces of the Maryknoll statue came up just as he was still able to do them.  If it had been later, he probably still could have, but it would have been much more difficult.  He said he’d had enough strength to do his part in the statue as well as he would have at any time.

[JC’s strength declined more quickly than we thought it would when the statue was being planned.]

We discussed eating.  He said it made him sick.  I explained the stretching of the stomach, etc.  He said, “I know.  I can still think rationally about it.”  But eating does seem to make him very sick.

He said Guy Buffet and Michel Martin want to come and cook for him.  He said it was nice that people make such efforts.

He said he eats a good breakfast; lunch is not so good.  At night, he would like to go out to eat, but DZC is too tired.




January 26, 1979
Straubenmüller mural,[228] on coming to the United States

There were two types of WPA projects: one was for individual artists—“better” art; the other for collective art—“less good.”  Straubenmüller was collective.  JC was sent to this school to clear up a bad project.

There were two projects going on at the school.  One was in the auditorium.  JC’s was in the entrance hall.  He had to modify it to give it unity.  The artists were angry that JC “tampered” with their style.  They hadn’t unified their style for the project.  The oldest painter in the group was good, but escaped into the clouds.  A Negro artist was in there; he later became fairly well known. 

Everything had to pass the principal.  It was hard to pass the inspection of the principal.  Facing the entrance was a sort of niche where JC did Sitting Woman [Head, Crowned with Laurels], which was later whitewashed because the principal thought it “obscene.”  Emilio Amero photographed it or at least parts of it.  JC did an oil facsimile of a smaller than life-size detail of it.

A medallion of the founder was done by JC and may still be there.

In the other work squad, in the theatre, Jackson Pollock was working.  Dealers fished out the fact that he was so bored that he made bits of sculpture, using stage colors, instead of painting.  So the dealers tried to get the sculptures.  I don’t know if they found any.  They wrote to JC to see if he had any.[229]

JC liked Kline of that group, but couldn’t get one of his works.[230]  He liked Arshile Gorky best.




January 26, 1979 and earlier
Dutch painting

The Dutch went further than anyone else in optical experiments: Vermeer, peepholes with rooms that aren’t.  Vermeer’s early painting of women:[231] “The dog is amazing, sort of a full light.”

JC saw the show at Kyoto.  When JC was very young, he knew The Lacemaker by Vermeer in the Louvre.  In the old days, Dutch paintings were shown in the small rooms, not in the big galleries, so you could see them in settings of the proper scale.




January 26, 1979
Contemporary young muralists

Kistler spent a lot of time photographing their work.  JC said he should do a book, but Kistler said there were too many copyright problems.  In his book,[232] Weber mentions that they’d copyrighted their images.  JC thought that odd—“old American custom.”

Earlier in Mexico, the artists didn’t have to buck the dealers: there were none.  But young contemporaries have had to go against that whole dealer set-up.  They’re really very brave.




Late January 1979
Contemporary Mexican-American street muralists

Vasconcelos’ thought in his Pitágoras is based all on numbers.

They aren’t the tail end of the Mexican Movement as so many people say, but very different.  150,000 street murals in the U.S. is impressive.

There are two opposite philosophies, each one consistent with the philosophy of its country.  [Mexico and the U.S.]  Mexican-Americans are soaked in U.S. culture.  It is heroic on their part to go against the grain of that culture and take sides with their racial culture, Hispanic, nearly the enemy of Saxon culture.  Mexican culture is so very dynamic.

I expected to find a tail end, jumped across the Rio Grande, of the Mexican Mural Renaissance.  Instead, there is a real fight within Mexican-American artists between where they were born and how they were raised and what they want to do.  This is different from the Mexican Mural Renaissance where the artists were Mexican and did Mexican things.  There was a smooth relationship between what they were and what they did.  Funding is important in the U.S., which is very American.

The U.S. street muralists were helped by motorcycle gangs because—and it’s interesting—the motorcycle gangs were the painters.  The lowbrows, even criminals, were the painters.  Even a politician helped.  Their murals against police brutality were besieged by the police.  John Weber and others went to a congressman and asked for protection.  The politician did so because he thought it was good for him politically.  So gangs and politicians ganged together to protect art in the streets.  This is so totally different from anywhere else.




January 30, 1979

The WPA muralists had problems with architects.  One knew that murals would be added, so he designed a niche with a frame around it.  He said he was sorry he didn’t do more, but he thought he was doing more important things at the time.


The Art Bulletin

The Art Bulletin is still on the same ground that their founder-scholar spaded around 1910, and it’s the third generation now.  The worst example was the man who said everything was symbolical, so he couldn’t see a chamber pot without expounding on its symbolism. 


News photograph of Iranians beating a general

The facial types of the men in the crowd are remarkable, ethnic.  One never sees anything like them on TV.  I said, “You could start a Mexican Mural Renaissance on them.”[233]




January 31, 1979
JC’s health and work

I was putting JC to bed.

He said he had been working on the Posada article since September.[234]  A long time.  He was working slowly. 

He would like to do DZC’s children’s book, silk screen, layout, as they want it.  He thought Kistler was bad to let him do so much work in a technique that failed. It would be a limited edition, etc.

He was sorry the publication of the Daumier article was put off.  They want to do a nice job—with Hyatt Mayor and Peter Morse, but JC would like to see it published.

He also would like to see his article in the catalogue of the Smithsonian Posada show.  He said he probably wouldn’t go to Washington to see the show. 

It was good luck that Rupert Garcia, etc., happened along just now.  It enables JC to bring Posada really up to date.  Towards a People’s Art was published in 1977.

He said it was difficult to plan because the doctors haven’t told him his disease is terminal, so he doesn’t know how long he’ll have.  He’ll hear tomorrow if he has to go in for a blood transfusion.  So he tries to work by little increments. 

I suggested we work on Charlot Murals in Hawai‘i.  He said not to mention projects to him because it hurts rather than helping.


JC said he woke up in a good mood today and it continued.  I asked why?  He said partly physical condition, partly religious.  I said I had a lot of faith in his pacing himself.

I made progress myself.  I did two new things: I asked him how he felt and I kissed him goodnight.  I’d wanted to do the latter the last two times but hadn’t.  I think he was happy that I did.  




February 8, 1979
Not reading EugŹne Fromentin’s Dominique[235]

JC had asked me to get it for him, but now said he didn’t have the head for it.




February 9, 1979
Japanese art

“What I like is the lack of shadows, the lack of bulk.  Rhythm seems to be the important thing.”

[JC regularly reads one of his books on Japanese art before he sleeps these days.]  




Early February 1979

His favorite in Heibonsha series is the volume on the Ise and Izumo shrines.[236]  It’s “still the best for me.”




Early February 1979
R. H. Fuchs Dutch Painting[237]

JC said he liked the book.  He learned something about eighteenth-century Dutch painting—he’d known nothing about that before. 

He said the author should have stopped earlier; he was “doing some favors for his friends” in the contemporary section.




February 11, 1979
JC’s sculpture Ali‘i Nui and Thomas Gould’s Kamehameha I

I was telling him about proofreading my article on the statue of Kamehameha I.  I said the body was good, but the pose was bad.  It would have made a really good statue if it had been more like JC’s.  I said I thought JC might have thought of it as an antidote to the Kamehameha statue.

JC said he had it in mind because he had just finished his own article on the subject.

 [Clearly he didn’t agree with me on the point.]




Around February 11, 1979
His health

Looking at photographs taken about a year ago, he said: “It astounds me how a body can degenerate so quickly!”




February 11, 1979
Tsuneo Takeda’s Kano Eitoku[238]

JC said the book was good, but in the illustrations they reproduced very large screens, apparently without noticing that this reduced the scale to unreadability.  




February 19, 1979
JC’s new article, “José Guadalupe Posada and His Successors”  

He said he was really happy it’s now typed clean.  He thought the best part—the part he was proudest of—was that on Vanegas Arroyo’s business.

[Evelyn Giddings said he told her: “Reading it, no one will be able to tell I wrote it sitting on my fanny.”]




February 20, 1979
JC and DZC on his health

JC thinks he’s eating a lot.  DZC disagrees.

He says he’s seized these days with a spirit of optimism.  “I don’t fight it,” he says.




February 20, 1979
M. M. Kahr’s Dutch Painting[239] and Japanese art books

He said the book was beginning to bore him; it was too encyclopedic.  JC also said there were too many adjectives, too many attempts to say things are beautiful.  The Japanese art books accustom one not to expect adjectives or emotionalism any more.




Week before February 25, 1979
Childhood and Barye statue of a horse

JC has put the Barye statue on the tall Korean cabinet before his bed, so he looks up at it.  I said he’d reproduced the way he used to look at it when he was a child and it towered above him when placed on a table.  He said I was right.

He wants to make a note on its provenance.




February 27, 1979
JC’s painting of Mayan fresco on a block; undone project

JC was really happy to have the painting from the Peabody Museum, Cambridge.[240]  He was peeved that it was not an outright return, but with a note saying the parents have to send it back.  JC wants it to go down in the family.

I said it was like his paintings of folk objets d’art.  He agreed.  He said he did his paintings of the single blocks in his spare time at Chich’en.  Ann Axtell Morris did the murals usually while he did the columns, but she just got the content, not the style.  Her work was too hurried.

He really loved that painting (both his and the one depicted).  He said the Mayan one was very interesting: it features the lime; the red streaks are from the sinopia; the blue in the back is a painting this Mayan one was done over.  JC explained the costume.

He said a big unfinished work of his was to show there was no real difference between Mayans, Toltecs, etc.: they were all “People of the Plain.”  He can find elements of each “style” everywhere.  There is no real difference between them.




Jean Charlot died on March 20, 1979. 


[1] Auguste Génin, PoŹmes AztŹques (Paris: Fischbacher,1890). 

[2] Désiré Charnay, Les anciennes villes du Nouveau Monde: voyages d’explorations au Mexique et dans l’Amérique Centrale (Paris: Hachette, 1885).

[3] EugŹne Boban, ed., avec une introduction de m. E.-EugŹne Goupil et une lettre-préface de m. Auguste Génin, Documents pour servir ą l’histoire du Mexique: catalogue raisonné de la collection de m. E.-EugŹne Goupil, ancienne collection J.-M.-A. Aubin.  Manuscrits figuratifs et postérieurs ą la conquźte du Mexique, XVIe siŹcle, deux volumes de texte accompagnés. . . d’un atlas de quarter-vingts planches, etc. (Paris: Ernest Leroux,1891). 

[4] The copy in the JCC is Bernardino de Sahagún, Historia de las cosas de Nueva EspaĖa (Firenze: A. Ruffoni, 19--?).  A later copy is also there: Bernardino de Sahagún, El gobierno de la republica edita en facsimil el manuscrito 218-20 la Colección Palatina de la Biblioteca Laurenziana: Códice florentino para mayor conocimiento de la historia del Pueblo de México (Mexico City: Archivo General de la Nación, 1979). 

[5] Édouard Riou (1833–1911), French painter and book illustrator. 

[6] This was Désiré Charnay and Julio Michaud, “Views of Zapotec and Maya Ruins in Mexico,” a portfolio of thirty-five photographs taken during Charnay’s first trip to Mexico, ca. 1857–1860.  

[7] Charnay had given a whistle to JC; everyone was delighted about it, and JC began to play the whistle.  Then Charnay said he’d taken it from the tomb and skeleton of a little boy, and JC’s mother began to worry about cleanliness. 

[8] E.g., Anciennes Villes, page 70: a poor drawing of the design of a house.  JC probably saw such Mexican architecture in this book early in his life. 

[9] Notes sur la Collection Aubin-Goupil ą la BibliothŹque Nationale, Paris,” posted in “Textes Franćais,” 

[10] Henri Ternaux-Compans, Voyages, relations et mémoires originaux pour servir ą l’histoire de la découverte de l’Amérique: publiés pour la premiŹre fois en franćais (Paris: A. Bertrand, 1837-1841). 

[11] JC usually stressed Rousseau’s compositions.  He would say that people think Rousseau is a folk painter, but he was really very proud, in a childlike way, about his compositions. 

[12] Jean Adhémar, Twentieth-Century Graphics (New York: Praeger, 1971), 22.

[13] Peter Morse, Jean Charlot’s Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1976), 88.  

[14] Jean Charlot and Paul Claudel, English translations by Elise Cavanna, Picture Book: Thirty-Two Original Lithographs (New York: Becker, 1933).  Signed by Jean Charlot, Lynton R. Kistler, and Merle Armitage.  

[15] This seems to be my summary of a number of remarks. 

[16] Morse numbers 106–107.  

[17] This note seems to be a combination of JC’s information and my thoughts, in italics. 

[18] This report does not accord with the death date posted on line, 1967. 

[19] Charlot wrote the poem Pour H. about this visit. 

[20] Paul Albert Beaudouin, La Fresque: sa technique, ses applications (Paris: Librairie Centrale des Beaux Arts, 1914).    

[21] A few posters––the remains of this collection––are in the JCC.  The statement shows he was aware of the posters, like the little girl whose hands have been cut off, which he mentioned to me.

[22] Another note from July 14, 1971, contains such inconcinnities that I must have taken it down wrong:

JC had been given a semi court-martial.  He had been taking messages and received one at two in the morning from a messenger plane saying it wanted to land.  He took the message and then returned to bed.  He was an under-officer, and no one had told him to wake his superior.  Later there was an investigation, and he was brought before a panel of three officers.  They accused him of sleeping when on duty.  He produced the message, so he proved he hadn’t been sleeping.  They let him go. 


[23] Jean Cocteau, Thomas L’imposteur, histoire et dessins (Paris: Éditions de la Nouvelle Revue Franćaise, 1923).   

[24] Albert Gleizes and Jean Metzinger, Du “Cubisme” (Paris: EugŹne FiguiŹre et Cie, 1912).

[25] Albert Gleizes, Du Cubisme et des moyens de le comprendre (Paris: Éditions La Cible, 1920 [published February 1921]). 

[26] S. J. Freedberg, Painting in Italy, 1500–1600, Pelican History of Art (London: Penguin Books, 1975).   

[27] I believe JC felt that the Mexican artists fed off the five years he wrote about. 

[28] Charlot later bought the following edition: Francisco Pacheco, Arte de la pintura, editado del manuscrito original, acabado el 24 de enero de 1638, con preliminar notas e indices de F. J. Sánchez Cantón (Madrid: Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan, 1956). 

[29] Luz Jiménez, compilation and translation by Fernando Horcasitas, De Porfirio Díaz a Zapata: memoria náhuatl de Milpa Alta, Serie de Historia Moderna y Contemporánea (Mexico: Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, 1968). 

[30] The Boy Who Could Do Anything, and Other Mexican Folk Tales, retold by Anita Brenner, illustrated by Jean Charlot (New York:  W. R. Scott, 1942). 

[31] Diego Rivera, “Abram Angel,” Abraham Angel (Mexico: Talleres Graficos de la Nación, 1924), 6 f.  

[32] On the last point, in a talk he once compared that problem to a New Yorker cartoon: a woman leans out a tenement window and asks her neighbor, “How can you tell when sauerkraut goes bad?” 

JC remembered mostly working during the MMR period, but other people remember him being in a lot of discussions, teaching them a lot, etc.  He once laughed at the idea that he gave lectures on art: “Can you imagine all those artists sitting down in rows?”  But he seems to have done it in some format.  In the same way, JC had to be reminded of how much he’d done with the Estridentistas.  

[33] JC as an adolescent had wanted to write a catalogue raisonné of the Aubin-Goupil Collection in the BibliothŹque Nationale. 

[34] Francis Toor, Paul O’Higgins, and Blas Vanegas Arroyo, eds., Monografía: las obras de José Guadalupe Posada, grabador mexicano, with an introduction by Diego Rivera (Mexico: Mexican Folkways, 1930). 

[35] This note is from the 1970s, but the conversation took place in the 1950s when I visited Norman Pearson at Yale.  JC had arranged the meeting because he wanted me to have the experience of meeting Pearson. 

[36] This was probably the Italian restaurant JC took me to in the mid-1950s.  It was a long, narrow room in a half basement, down a flight of stairs, and I remember the food being good.  JC told me in advance that the restaurant had sawdust on the floors and was disappointed not to see any.  When he asked about it, the waiter said they’d gotten rid of it after the war.

[37] JC told me that such materials were just being thrown away by the muralists because no institution wanted to keep them. 

[38] Someone told me later that Dorothy Day had only good feelings about JC. 

[39] Charlot had shows at the John Levy Galleries in 1933 and 1936. 

[40] E.g., William M. Ivins, Jr., Prints and Visual Communication (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1953), plate 80. 

[41] A. Hyatt Mayor (1901–1980), Metropolitan Museum of Art Curator of Prints 1946–1966. 

[42] T. F. Gustave von Groschwitz (b. 1906), head of the Graphics division for the Works Progress Administration. 

[43] This is probably A. Hyatt Mayor, Prints and People: A Social History of Printed Pictures (New York:  Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1971).  JC also owned his Popular Prints of the Americas (New York: Crown, 1973).  My date 1972 for this note might be wrong.  

[44] Marguerite Mespoulet, Images et Romans: parenté des estampes et du roman réaliste de 1815 ą 1865 (Paris: Société d’édition “Les Belleslettres,” 1939).   

[45] Marguerite Mespoulet, Creators of Wonderland (Santa Fe, NM: Rydal Press, Arrow Edition, 1934).

[46] Martha Warren Beckwith, Kepelino's Traditions of Hawaii, Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 95 (Honolulu: Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, 1932).  

[47] Author of La‘ieikawai.  See The Hawaiian Romance of La‘ieikawai, with introduction and translation by Martha Warren Beckwith, Thirty-Third Annual Report, 1911–1912 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Bureau of American Ethnology, 1919), 284–666. 

[48] My article on Johanna Cluney had been butchered in its first publication: “Johanna Cluney: The Last Featherworker,” TV-Aloha section, Honolulu Advertiser, September 2, 1973, 37 f.   I was, therefore, happy when a journal offered to publish the original version.  When Ms. Cluney heard of this and learned that I would be paid $50.00 for it, she forebade its republication.  I see now that according to Hawaiian courtesy, I should have consulted her prior to accepting the journal’s offer.  A typescript of the original article was published after her death on my web site:  

[49] At the opening of a JC exhibition, Johanna presented JC with a hala ‘pandanus’ lei.  Hala means ‘to pass’ in Hawaiian and a hala lei can mean either something sad––that someone has died or is going to die––or something happy, that all difficulties have passed.  JC said, “I hope you mean this in the good sense.”  Johanna replied, “Oh, of course!” 

[50] Mary K. Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert, Hawaiian-English Dictionary, 1st edition (Honolulu: University of Hawaii P, 1957); English-Hawaiian Dictionary, 1964.  

[51] Relation of Man and Nature in Old Hawaii, 1949, fresco, 10 X 29 ft., first floor, Administration Building (now Paul S. Bachman Hall), University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawai‘i.  October 17–November 25, 1949.

[52] Marjorie Sinclair, Nāhienaena: Sacred Daughter of Hawai`i (Honolulu: UH Press, 1976).  See my later “The Feather Skirt of Nāhienaena: An Innovation in Postcontact Hawaiian Art,” Journal of the Polynesian Society 100, no. 2 (June 1991): 119–165.  An errata list is posted on my web site:  

[53] JC felt also that Nijinsky went crazy because his wife tried to reform his homosexuality. 

[54] The Ad Hoc Committee for a Hawaiian Trustee of the Bishop Estate was protesting the appointment of yet another non-Hawaiian trustee.  Charlot’s symbol was announced in Richard Hoyt, “anti-Takabuki symbol: ‘splintered paddle’ law,” Honolulu Advertiser, July 8, 1971, A-12.  This was attacked by Samuel Crowningburg-Amalu, “the ‘Law of the Splintered Paddle’ upset,” Sunday Star-Bulletin & Advertiser, July 11, 1971, A-7.  The letter was Pilahi Paki, “law of ‘mamalahoa,” Honolulu Advertiser, July 16, 1971, A-21.  On the Law of the Broken Paddle, see John Charlot, The Hawaiian Poetry of Religion and Politics: Some Religio-Political Concepts in Post-Contact Literature, monograph series, no. 5 (Lā‘ie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young University, 1985), 37.   

[55] Nā Lono Elua, Two Lonos, in Jean Charlot, Two Hawaiian Plays: Hawaiian English (Honolulu: published by the author, distributed by the University Press of Hawaii, 1976).

[56] U‘i A U‘i, Beauty Meets Beauty, published in Jean Charlot, Three Plays of Ancient Hawaii (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1963).

[57] Relation of Man and Nature in Old Hawai‘i, 1949.  Hawaiian Drummers, 1950, fresco, portable mural, 4 X 6 ft., John Young residence, Honolulu, Hawai‘i.  Currently in office of Dr. Percival Chee, Kukui Plaza, Honolulu, Hawai‘i. 

[58] Marisol won the Hawai‘i State competition for the statue of Father Damien, beating Charlot’s own entry.  He visited her in New York City and wrote, “Jean Charlot visits Damien sculptress,” Honolulu Star-Bulletin, March 22, 1967, A1:3.  Marisol found the article insufficiently respectful and complained to Charlot and others.  Charlot continued to support her controversial sculpture in his art column: “Art,” Honolulu Star-Bulletin, April 5, 1967, B1:1; Art, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, April 12, 1967, B-1. 

[59] Hawaii Now Special, “The Charlot Family,” first broadcast July 1975 by KHET, Hawaii Public Television, produced by Nino J. Martin.      

[60] This must refer to his last years in the department when such teaching came into fashion.  JC told me that he’d started giving an alternative version of art history only to find that the students didn’t know the conventional one.  So he went back to giving them the usual one.

[61] John F. G. Stokes, “Origin of the Condemnation of Captain Cook in Hawaii: A Study in Cause and Effect,” Thirty-Ninth Annual Report of the Hawaiian Historical Society for the Year 1930 (1931): 68–104.

[62] Walter Francis Frear, Anti-Missionary Criticism, with Reference to Hawaii: A Paper Read Before the Honolulu Social Sciences Association, January 7, 1935 (Honolulu: Advertiser Publishing, 1935). 

[63] Agnes Conrad, Hawai‘i Territorial (later State) Archivist from 1955–1982, who worked on the journal, brought this up with me in 1996.  She said she thought he’d felt bad that they’d rejected the article, but they thought they were right, that it needed changes to be publishable.  Agnes did tend to be a little curt; she remembered that they’d had an exchange on the subject and had been left with the impression that he felt bad.  JC was certainly right that his article was much better than most of the material they were publishing back then; it was odd that that they would refuse such an article. 

[64] Statement, Juliette May Fraser: A Retrospective Honoring the Artist’s 85th Year, Honolulu Academy of Arts, March 30–April 30, 1972, 1 (unnumbered). 

[65] One of the three panels in Time Discloseth All Things (center), Cortez Lands in Mexico (left), Paratroopers Land in Sicily (right), 1944, fresco, 11 X 66 ft. overall, corridor, Journalism Building, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. Listed in order painted.  

[66] Compare Charlot’s writings on his fresco in the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, Farmington, Michigan, 1961, posted on 

[67] The Mexican Mural Renaissance, 1920–1925 (New Haven: Yale UP, 1967).    

 [68] Pierre Reverdy, Pablo Picasso, Les Peintres Franćais Nouveaux series, no. 16 (Paris: Nouvelle Revue Franćaise, Gallimard, 1924), 17.  The book was given to him after he was in Mexico. 

[69] Morse number 317.  “The Source of Picasso’s First Steps: Jean Charlot’s First Steps,” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 55, no. 2 (1992): 275–278.  I missed this note when I wrote my article.   

[70] Paul Claudel, The Book of Christopher Columbus: A Lyrical Drama in Two Parts, with decorations by Jean Charlot (New Haven: Yale UP, 1930).  Morse numbers 460–463.  

[71] Exact quotation.  My note reads “In Gallani book (?),” which may refer to Marie-Eleftheria Galani.  I have not been able to locate this book.  The drawing and inscription are reproduced in “Étude: Claudel hors du purgatoire,” Le Monde, supplément au numéro 7320, July 27, 1968, 4: “Je m’aperćois que je vous ai écrit au verso d’un portrait fait par Charlot !” ‘I see that I’ve written you on the verso of a portrait made by Charlot!’  Charlot is identified in the newspaper as “peintre franćais que Claudel a rencontré, aux Etats-Unis en 1930” ‘French painter whom Claudel met in the United States in 1930.’   

[72] Charlot Murals in Georgia, with an introduction by Lamar Dodd, photographs by Eugene Payor, and commentaries by Jean Charlot (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1945). 

[73] Lawrence Wroth, Some Reflections on the Book Arts in Early Mexico (Cambridge: Harvard College Library, 1945).  JC was staying with the millionairess Mrs. Sherman Post Haight (Anne Lyon Haight), author of Banned Books: Informal Notes on Some Books Banned for Various Reasons at Various Times and in Various Places (New York: R. R. Bowker, 1935). 


[75] The Sun, the Moon and a Rabbit by Amelia Martínez del Rio and illustrated by Jean Charlot (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1935) was a children’s book that retold forty-two Mexican legends of Toltec, Aztec, and Maya origin.

[76] Prosper Mérimée, Carmen, introduction by Konrad Bercovici, illustrated with lithogaphs in color by Jean Charlot, translated by Lady Mary Lloyd (New York: Limited Editions Club, 1941). 

[77] Peter Morse, John Sloan’s Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné of Etchings, Lithographs, and Posters (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969).

[78] Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert, Hawaiian Dictionary (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1971). 

[79] Samuel H. Elbert and Samuel A. Keala, Conversational Hawaiian, 3rd ed. (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1961). 

[80] Jean Charlot, “Inscriptions” (Hawaiian and English) to photographs by Robert Wenkam, ed. by John Charlot in Dillingham Tide Calendar1978 (Honolulu, 1977).

[81] Jean Charlot, Choris and Kamehameha (Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1958).

[82] Dorothy B. BarrŹre, Kamehameha in Kona: Two Documentary Studies, Pacific Anthropological Records, no. 23 (Honolulu: Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, 1975).

[83] Joel Trapido (d. 2000) was the co-founder of the Department of Drama and Theatre at the University of Hawai‘i. 

[84] Sheldon Dibble, ed., Ka Mooolelo Hawaii. I Kakauia E Kekahi Mau Haumana O Ke Kulanui, A I Hooponoponoia E Kekahi Kumu O Ia Kula (Lahainaluna, HI: Mea Pai Palapala No Ke Kulanui, 1838).  Dibble edited the research of his students, who gathered oral reports from Hawaiian informants.    

[85] ángel María Garibay K.[Kintana], Historia de la literatura Náhuatl, 2 vols. (Mexico: Editorial Porrúa,1953-1954).  Primera parte: “Etapa autónoma: de c. 1430 a 1521”; segunda parte: “El trauma de la conquista (1521–1750)”.  

[86] Abraham Fornander, Fornander Collection of Hawaiian Antiquities and Folk-Lore, Memoirs of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, vol. 4 (Honolulu: Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, 1916–1917). 

[87] Lani Rammler’s father also told me that the play was “traditional,” meaning the same thing. 

[88] “Shinichi Takahashi’s Visions of Hell,” Hawaii Hochi, October 10, 1975, 2.

[89] Las Posadas at Sunset (three-quarter view), 1975, oil, 18 X 14 in., checklist number 1343.

[90] Las Posadas at Sunset (front view), 1975, oil, 40 X 30 in., checklist number 1344. 

[91] This method is quite different from JC’s oils in which the color itself draws the figure, as the artist Richard Frooman pointed out to me.  The method JC was now using seems comparable to lithographic technique: black line outline and color plates.  JC rejected that method to do the entire print with color plates.  He seems now to be exploring the possibilities of black line.  He may also be thinking of thin-thick lines of old-fashioned “reproductions.”  

[92] Morse numbers 719–720. 

[93] Not an exact quotation.  I am not sure also about the word jelly. 

On November 3, 1975, after hearing JC give instructions to Hiroshi Morikawa at the Honolulu Sign Company for the cover of Two Hawaiian Plays: Hawaiian English (Published by the author, distributed by the University Press of Hawaii, Honolulu, 1976), I wrote the following note: 

JC uses very elaborate means to arrive at a seemingly simple effect.  The simplicity comes from the firm, simple principles that govern the work and to which he is faithful.  E.g., the layout for Two Plays.  He sees the simplicity, and I do, but others see only the complexity; the typographer at Lynn’s told me the layout or typographical design of the book had seemed crazy, but then as he worked on it, it appeared logical.  Point: there is the possibility of misunderstandings and surprises so that others find work difficult or hard to understand.  JC is so assured of “simplicity” because his mind goes behind the technical complexity and seizes the principles that are being carried out with perfect fidelity.  Other minds can’t do that and get stuck in the complications of the carrying out of the principles.  The quality of JC’s mind is that he can see both and in their proper places. 


[94] Zohmah Charlot, A First Book, as told by Zohmah Charlot with 18 color lithographs by Jean Charlot (s.n., 1980).  

[95] The print was a 3 X 4 in. image of the Madonna, done for the fiftieth anniversary of the Maryknoll sisters in Hawai‘i.  I have not been able to locate a copy. 

[96] Before he always did his scale models for his murals in watercolor.  He stopped when people found them too pale, etc. 

[97] Portrait of Mrs. Herbert Loui, 1971, oil, 26 X 26 in., checklist number 1236. 

[98] I believe the pale colors reflected the Chinese and the aggressive red of the hibiscus the Hawaiian heritage.  JC was synthesizing them esthetically to express the Hawaiian-Chinese subject. 

[99] Checklist numbers 1202–1206, 1209 (December 1970), 1226 (February 1971). 

[100] Six Children among the Leaves, 1971, oil, 60 X 90 in., checklist number 1238.

[101] Hoakalei Kamau‘u was ‘Iolani Luahine’s student and chanter and a kumu hula ‘hula master’ in her own right. 

[102] Artists who had done earlier portraits in the State of Hawai‘i commissioned series on notable citizens. 

[103] 1943, checklist numbers 691–697.  These preparatory paintings are now in the JCC. 

[104] Chief’s Canoe, 1956, fresco, 8 X 20 ft. With four accompanying murals: Conch Players, 1956, fresco, 4 ½ X 23 ¼ ft.; Diver (woman), 1956, fresco, 4 ½ X 23 ¼ ft.; Diver (man), 1956, fresco, 4 ½ X 23 ¼ ft.; Drummers, 1956, fresco, 4 ½ X 23 ¼ ft.; Catamaran Café, Kaiser Hawaiian Village Hotel (now the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort and Spa), Honolulu, Hawai‘i.  The panels were removed when the café was remodeled and are now in the Pā Kaloka (Charlot) Courtyard at the Hawai‘i Convention Center, Honolulu.

[105] Way of the Cross, 1971, Styrofoam reverse sculpture cast with the cement wall, fourteen panels, each 20 X 16 in., Church of St. John Apostle and Evangelist, Mililani, Hawai‘i, O‘ahu.  The stations were completed November l970 and cast in situ 1971.  

[106] Episodes from the Life of Christ, 1967–1971, copper repoussé, thirty-two panels, each 18 X 19 in., Thurston Chapel, Punahou School, Honolulu, Hawai‘i.  Dedicated December 16, 1973.  Evelyn Giddings, Collaborator.   

[107] Ali‘i Nui (High Chief), 1971, ceramic sculpture, 9 ½ ft. high, Ala Moana Hotel, Honolulu, Hawai‘i.  Isami Enomoto, Technician. In 2009 the sculpture was donated to the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts for installation at a site that has yet to be determined.

[108] Musicians of Old Hawaii, 1971, acrylic on masonite, two panels, each 16 X 8 ft., Harbor Square Apartments, Honolulu, Hawai‘i.  Martin Charlot, Assistant.

[109] In Praise of Petroglyphs, 1972–73, copper plate and champlevé enamel sculpture, 8 ft. high, Moanalua Intermediate School, Honolulu, Hawai‘i.  Evelyn Giddings, Collaborator.  Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts project.  

[110] On Strike at the Capitol; Refuse Collectors; Hospital Laundry; The Strike in Nu‘uanu; Road and Board of Supply Workers; Cafeteria Workers and Custodians, 1970–1975, ceramic tile mural, first four panels listed are each 11 X 13 ft., last two panels listed are 8 X 13 ft., School Street faćade of United Public Workers Building, Honolulu, Hawai‘i (renamed the Henry B. Epstein Building in 2006).  Isami Enomoto, Technician. 

[111] In the school panel, the children were all his own grandchildren, so JC is making a joke.  

[112] John Charlot, Chanting the Universe: Hawaiian Religious Culture (Hong Kong: Emphasis International, 1983). 

[113] Jean Charlot, “Notes on Posada,” Print Review 7 (1977): 5–27.   

[114] Peter Morse, Popular Art: The Example of Jean Charlot (Santa Barbara, CA: Capra Press, 1978). 

[115] In my own view, Morse neglects process prints, so doesn’t see all of JC’s political and religious cartoons.  He also doesn’t see the political connection and significance of JC’s Mexican work.  He frames his study too much in the categories of popular and unpopular art, which just doesn’t work with JC. 

[116] Georges Bataille, Lascaux; or, The Birth of Art: Prehistoric Painting, translated by Austryn Wainhouse (New York: Skira, 1955).  

[117] Charles de Tolnay, Michelangelo (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969).  

[118] Nicolas Poussin, The Annunciation, 1657, National Gallery, London. 

[119] Anthony Blunt, Nicolas Poussin, Bollingen Series 35, no. 7 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1967), 306 f.   

[120] C. V. Wedgwood and Time-Life Books, eds., The World of Rubens, 1577–1640 (New York: Time, Inc., 1967).

[121] For JC, Bruegel was like Rivera and Siqueiros who’d done European work in Europe, but returned to Mexican art on their return home. 

[122] JC thought it was good that the French had resisted Bernini’s influence and had gone on to develop a more severe classical style.  He felt that showed the cultural confidence of people like Perrault: Bernini was a real visiting fireman, the biggest figure on the international art scene—but the French decided to trust their own taste against his.  

[123] Probably Terisio Pignatti, Pietro Longhi: Paintings and Drawings—Complete Edition (New York: Phaidon Press, 1969). 

[124] Watson and the Shark, 1778, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. 

[125] Hung-jen, The Coming of Autumn, ca. 1658–1661, ink on paper, mounted as a hanging scroll, 49-1/8 X 24-3/4 in., Honolulu Academy of Arts.  After Charlot’s death, a conservation left large areas of the reserves unevenly bleached. 

[126] Jean Charlot, “Daumier’s Graphic Compositions” in Honoré Daumier: A Centenary Tribute, ed. Andrew Stasik (New York: Pratt Graphics Center, 1980), 55–95.

[127] Umberto Boccioni, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 1913 (cast 1931), bronze, 43 7/8 X 34 7/8 X 15 ¾ in., Museum of Modern Art, New York. 

[128] Pierre Reverdy, Pablo Picasso, Les Peintres Franćais Nouveaux series, no. 16 (Paris: Nouvelle Revue Franćaise, Gallimard, 1924).   JC is mistaken here.  The book was sent to him after he was in Mexico.   

[129] I remember JC thinking Reginald Marsh very poor during the period when Time and Life were really puffing him.  This memory conflicts with the above note. 

[130] Charlot remembered Gorky quickly erasing all the faces in his paintings just before the opening of his first big show in the United States. 

[131] Mestrovic’s Studio, 1956, fresco, 9 X 25 ft., student lounge, O’Shaughnessy Hall (now Snite Museum of Art), University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana.

[132] Marcel Lajos Breuer (1902-1981) was an Hungarian-born modernist architect and furniture designer, who had studied and taught at the Bauhaus in the 1920s. 

[133] Joseph P. Macadam, translation and adaptation of Tatsusaburo Hayashiya et al., Japanese Arts and the Tea Ceremony (New York: Weatherhill, 1974).   

[134] Charlot thought Posada had based his print on a 1915 photograph, possibly ‘Un ahorcado en las lomas de Sayula” in Gustavo Casasola, Historia gráfica de la Revolución Mexicana 1900–1960, vol. 2 (Mexico: Editorial F. Trillas, 1970), 999.  Charlot remembered that when he questioned the photographer about the accuracy of the date, he reached indignantly for an imaginary gun at his hip.  However, the photograph Posada used has now been identified and firmly dated 1912; Ron Tyler, ed., Posada’s Mexico (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress with the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, 1979), 249.   

[135] José Juan Tablada, Historia del arte en México (Mexico: CompaĖía Nacional Editora “Aguilas,” 1927).  JC told me on another occasion that Tablada was unlucky to have written his book just as the mural movement was beginning. 

[136] I had the feeling later that DZC felt more this way than JC.  I think he felt it was something that couldn’t be hidden.  Everyone knew Guerrero was a communist. 

[137] A Russian-born painter and sculptor, Angelina Beloff (1879–1969) met Diego Rivera in Brussels in 1909 and became his first wife.  Rivera left Beloff when he returned to Mexico from Paris in 1921.  Beloff later followed him, making Mexico her home. 

[138] I’ve reconstructed the beginning from the note, “JC and Mérida were the two artists who were less pol.” 

[139] In the original instructions, both types of subjects were commissioned. 

[140] I remember JC looking at the Ingres.  He said the composition was extremely complicated and all in three dimensions.  The key was the finger of the Roman soldier pointing straight out of the canvas. 

[141] Guadalupe Marín, La Unica (Mexico: Editorial Jalisco, 1938).

[142] JC told me this when we were discussing anecdotes, especially revealing ones used in history books.  He said there were lots he didn’t want to tell because he didn’t “want to pull my friends’ pants down in public.”  I asked for an example, and he told me the above story.  The prophetic point was said afterwards.  JC thought Rivera was wrong to boast about the man’s death, but JC saw the prophetic part as even more important.  

[143] This remark gives some idea of what he would have done.  It also reveals much of his attitude: contemporary materials are illuminating, and small, unpretentious illustrations can be useful. 

[144] Frances Flynn Paine, “The Work of Diego Rivera,” in the catalogue for the exhibit, Diego Rivera, December 23, 1931l932 January 27 (New York: Norton for Museum of Modern Art, 1931), 9-35. 

[145] Leah Brenner, An Artist Grows Up in Mexico (New York: Beechhurst Press, 1953).    

[146] José Clemente Orozco, The Artist in New York: Letters to Jean Charlot and Unpublished Writings, 1925–1929, foreword and notes by Jean Charlot, letters and writings translated by Ruth L. C. Sims (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1974), 25.  

[147] We may have been discussing Laurence E. Schmeckebier’s views and approach.  We had all liked Orozco’s letter trashing Schmeckebier’s appreciative study of Orozco.  However, when JC asked Schmeckebier about Orozco’s letter, Schmeckebier said sadly, “I really did my best by him.”  That made us feel bad that we’d enjoyed Orozco’s letter so much.  

[148] Second floor, Escuela Nacional Preparatoria, now the Colegio de San Ildefonso, Mexico City. 

[149] JC is expressing his view that Orozco and a few others were prophetic.  

[150] JC said that the muralists made bawdy jokes about how Orozco used the arm from which the hand had been amputated.  

[151] Pueblo Mexicano, 1930, lithograph, 11 X 15 in. 

[152] The discussion came up with a joke on doing the same as a mistake with the panels for Musicians of Old Hawaii, 1971.

[153] There was a possibility of JC being shown at the Delphic Studios, but Orozco told Alma Reed he didn’t want that to happen, and it didn’t.

[154] The text is a summary of a number of things JC said on different occasions.  On other occasions, JC said that Orozco didn’t really believe in himself.  When all the fame came his way, he thought he was somehow fooling people.  Also, JC felt that Orozco was too old when he finally saw a lot of non-Mexican art work.  He wasn’t able really to assimilate it, so his later work is derivative.  His early work is his best. 

[155] The English version is José Clemente Orozco, An Autobiography, translated by Robert C. Stephenson (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1962). 

[156] Our Lady of Sorrows and Ascension of Our Lord, 1961, fresco, approx. 1300 sq. ft., ceiling and apsidal wall, Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, Farmington, Michigan. 

[157] JC had gone up and down on this question.  I spoke to him once when I was very young and was surprised that he was—or thought he was—a major painter.  He said that one of the things that convinced him was the quantity of his work.  Besides quality that was one of the things that distinguished a major from a minor artist.  He later said that that proved Posada was a major artist. 

JC was puzzled that he received so little attention even though he was obviously very good.  I think that was what made him wobble occasionally and ask himself whether he really was so good.  But he kept coming back to a positive assessment and had to remain mystified about why he received so little recognition. 

[158] Jean Charlot, An Artist on Art: Collected Essays of Jean Charlot (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1972); Mexican Art and the Academy of San Carlos, 1785–1915, foreword by Elizabeth Wilder Weismann, Texas Pan-American Series (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1962).

[159] JC was expecting that Peter Morse’s catalogue would be widely reviewed and would prompt a reappraisal of his work.  This is my view of what he was thinking; we never discussed it.  He was very disappointed when it received so few reviews.  I asked Morse about it, and he told me the sad story, which he had learned by accident.  DZC had taken the list of journals to which the catalogue was to be sent and wrote a letter to the editors, scolding them for neglecting JC and telling them that they had better do right by the book, etc.  This made the great majority of the editors decide to ignore the book.  The only reviews came from peripheral journals that had not been on the list.  JC never discussed this with DZC, and I don’t think she knew that anyone knew what she had done.  Years later—long after JC’s death—she told me she had done really terrible things about JC.  I think she may have been thinking of this.  

[160] First husband of Ann Charlot, JC’s daughter. 

[161] Topgallant had accepted the book, which I was editing as the publisher’s employee.  I had recently left the firm, but JC did not withdraw his book.  Topgallant was really uninterested in it, so when I finished the editing, it was published by the author and distributed by the University of Hawai‘i Press. 

[162] “John Ormai, 72, Artist, Muralist,” Morning Call [Allantown, PA], March 4, 1992:  

John Geza Ormai, 72, of 298 Moyer Road, Kutztown, an artist and muralist, died Monday in Lehigh Valley Hospital Center.

Ormai, who worked with modern masters, including Ben Shahn, a lithographer/murist (sic), and Jean Charlot, studied in New York's Art Students' League, Yale University and at Black Mountain College, N.C., with Joseph Albers.

From the spring to the fall of 1941, Ormai assisted Shahn on the longest-running visual-arts program of the New Deal, "The Meaning of Social Security," a mural project for what was then called the Social Security Board Building in Washington D.C. Because of military objections, Ormai left before Shahn completed the 10 panels.


[163] I remember R. B. telling me that when JC visited them, he’d get his little daughter to go sit on JC’s lap.  “It always worked,” he said.  I remember I myself was put out at the time at the way B. got things out of JC.  He wasn’t the only one, and DZC also was an easy mark then and after JC’s death.  B. and his family did donate many important paintings to the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

[164] Kimie Takahashi was the poet wife of Shinichi Takahashi.  I had been translating her poems into English for Shinichi’s show, which JC reviewed.  Reference above. 

[165] “Jean Charlot and Local Cultures,” in Jean Charlot, Paintings, Drawings, and Prints, ed. by Ethel Moore, Georgia Museum of Art Bulletin 2, no. 2 (Fall 1976): 26–35.

[166] Jean Charlot, Picture Book II: 32 Original Lithographs and Captions (Los Angeles: Zeitlin and Ver Brugge, 1973).  Published to mark the 40th anniversary of Charlot’s first Picture Book (1933).  Prefatory note by Peter Morse, edition of 1000, numbered and signed by Jean Charlot and by the printer, Lynton R. Kistler.  The first thirty–two copies contain an original drawing by the artist. 

[167] Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, The Final Days (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1976).

[168] I think he meant I should write about him too, that he told me things he wanted me to keep. 

[169] The word pa‘ū ‘skirt’ refers here to a type of billowy trousers that Hawaiian women invented so they could ride horses astride.  Pa‘ū riders appear in all important Hawaiian parades.  JC was probably referring to the mural on nineteenth-century Hawai‘i that he always wanted to do.  He would have included Princess Ruth in it as well. 

[170] “Jean Charlot: Paintings, Drawings, and Prints,” an exhibition organized by the Georgia Museum of Art, October 31 to December 5, 1976, Athens, Georgia. 

[171] Jean Charlot, Kei Viti: Melanesian Images, Five Lithographs in Color (Los Angeles: Lynton Kistler, 1978).  Edition of 150, with introduction and captions by the artist. 

[172] JC was doing a lot of reading and thinking on Bernini around that time. 

[173] This goes with what he said before he left, that he could no longer laugh off the stupidities of politicians and others the way he had before.  

[174] The Relation of Man and Nature in Old Hawai‘i, 1974, fresco, 23 x 104 ft., Leeward Community College, Pearl City, Hawai‘i.  Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts project.  

[175] Another “dream experiment” was to show himself to his friends with his head under his arm to see how they would react. 

[176] I noted here: “Peace with Peasants.”  This may refer to an artwork that was done under the influence of drugs. 

[177] Madonna and Child, 1959, ceramic statue, 5 ft. high, convent garden, St. Francis Hospital, Liliha Street, Honolulu, Hawai‘i (now Hawai‘i Medical Center East).  

[178] Ali‘i Nui (High Chief), 1971, ceramic sculpture, 9 ½ ft. high, Ala Moana Hotel, Honolulu, Hawai‘i.  Isami Enomoto, Technician.

[179] Terence Barrow’s Captain Cook in Hawaii (Norfolk Island, Australia: Island Heritage, 1976).   When Barrow was pumping JC, he didn’t tell him he was writing a book!  Barrow does have a footnote related to JC’s play on Captain Cook, Na Lono Elua, Two Lonos, 144 n. 117.  

[180] That is, that DZC is in charge of taking care of JC. 

[181] Donald Posner, Watteau: A Lady at her Toilet, Art in Context series (New York: Viking, 1973).   

[182] Robert Cameron, Above Hawaii: A Collection of Nostalgic and Contemporary Aerial Photographs of the Hawaiian Islands (San Francisco: Cameron, 1977), 153.

[183] In 1978, JC created a matching serigraph, Lauhala, Kapakahi Stream, Kahala, Oahu (Morse number 751). 

[184] Ann Sutherland Harris, ed., Selected Drawings by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (New York: Dover, 1977).   

[185] Bernini, Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, 1652, marble, Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome. 

[186] Bernini, Pope Clement X, bronze bust, 1671, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis. 

[187] Paul Fréart de Chantelou, Journal du voyage en France du Cavalier Bernin (New York: B. Franklin, 1972). 

[188] JC didn’t explain, but I think he meant the anecdote shows that the artist plays an outsider role in structured society, seen, for instance, in Mantegna’s unflattering murals of court life at Mantua.  While we were looking at a courtier tiptoeing out of the picture, JC said, “The duke is out of sorts today.”

[189] Gallicism from “donner sur” ‘look out onto,’ ‘open onto’.  

[190] Nigel Cameron, Barbarians and Mandarins: Thirteen Centuries of Western Travelers in China (New York: Walker/Weatherhill, 1970).  I thought the book related to JC’s writings on Maigret, e.g., 147, 156, 163 f., 168 seq., 180, 186. 

[191] Gervase Mathew, Byzantine Aesthetics (New York: Viking, 1964).   

[192] Checklist numbers 1361–1365.  Morse numbers 727, 731, 749, 750. 

[193] The plate was for TAGANE DAURAVURAVU: Ancient Warrior, Morse number 749. 

[194] This was the original idea for the series in the portfolio. 

[195] Charlot, Picture Book II. 

[196] JC has mentioned this statement for years.  

[197] Richard E. Leakey and Roger Lewin, Origins: What New Discoveries Reveal About the Emergence of Our Species and its Possible Future (New York: Dutton, 1977).

[198] I thought he had known this before.  I think he must have forgotten.  I seem to remember discussing the piece with him some years ago.  

[199] Probably the dado of the National Palace frescoes. 

[200] Caravaggio, Supper at Emmaus, 1601, oil on canvas, 56 X 77.2 in., National Gallery, London.

[201] In all likelihood, Walter Friedlaender, Caravaggio Studies (Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press, 1955), 164.  Charlot had a copy of this book in his library. 

[202] Jean Charlot, Choris and Kamehameha (Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 1958). 

[203] An Artist on Art: Collected Essays of Jean Charlot, 2 vols. (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1972).   

[204] JC was amused when Martin, looking down from the top for the first time, made a flushing noise. 

[205] Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well, 1978, oil, 20 X 24 in., checklist number 1366.   

[206] Donald Posner, Annibale Carracci: A Study in the Reform of Italian Painting around 1590, 2 vols. (New York: Phaidon, 1971).  Christ and the Samaritan Woman, ca.1595, oil on canvas, Brera, Milan, “has not inaptly been characterized as ‘proto-Poussinesque’ ” (vol. 1, 51).

[207] That reminded me of his going “choo-choo” while researching Two Little Trains: the power of getting into what he’s doing.  Margaret Wise Brown, Two Little Trains (New York:  William R. Scott, 1943).  

[208] “For Jean Charlot  WMI,” on the cover of William M. Ivins, Jr., Notes on Prints: Being the Text of Labels prepared for A Special Exhibition of Prints from the Museum Collection (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1930).    

[209] Hala Leaves and Black Hala, Kapoho, Hawai‘i, oil, 1976, 20” X 24”, checklist number 1347.  Compare Hala Grove, Kahawai, Puna, Hawai‘i, oil, 1977, 22” X 30”, checklist number 1358.

[210] Caravaggio, Madonna of the Pilgrims, oil, 1603–1605, Sant’Agostino, Rome.  Compare his Madonna of the Rosary, oil, 1606–1607, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; Crucifixion of St. Peter, oil, 1600–1601, Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome.  See Charlot’s review of Mira Cantor, “Art, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, March 3, 1971, B-16.  

[211] This remark is important for understanding JC’s whole use of symbolism.  The thing itself is important; it’s not important just because of something else that it symbolizes.  So JC’s use of symbol (e.g., Work and Rest) means looking at something that really is something in itself.  A better designation might be “a particularly clear and powerful example.”  

[212] Abraham Fornander, Fornander Collection of Hawaiian Antiquities and Folk-Lore, Memoirs of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, vols. 4–6 (Honolulu: Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, 1916–1920).

[213] Tortilleras, 1967, oil, 40 X 44 in., checklist number 1047.  Tortillera Lesson, 1978, oil, 40 X 44 in., checklist number 1358.   

[214] Probably “Notes on Posada,” Print Review 7 (1977): 5–27.    

[215] I’m not clear what the two sets are.  They could be the museum’s previous collection and the new items that JC brought back from Mexico; he would then be asking that those items be recorded as collected by him.  The two sets might also be the prints he bought with the $400 and the other ones he brought back more or less as gifts from the artists; he would then be asking that those items be acknowledged as such. 

[216] Michael D. Coe, Lords of the Underworld: Masterpieces of Classic Maya Ceramics, exhibition catalogue (Princeton, NJ: Art Museum, Princeton University, distributed by Princeton University Press, 1978).   

[217] Landscape with the Sacrifice of Isaac, ca. 1599, Louvre, Paris.  See Donald Posner, vol. 2, plate 117 in Annibale Carracci: A Study in the Reform of Italian Painting around 1590, 2 vols. (New York: Phaidon, 1971).  Compare Matthijs Bril, Landscape with Sacrifice of Isaac, Torre dei Venti, Vatican Palace in Posner, vol. 2, figure 105. 

[218] I’m not sure consciously was the exact word used.  JC said studying Carracci taught the art student the value of an iconographic program. 

[219] John Pope-Hennessy, The Raphael Cartoons (London: H. M. S. O., 1966).

[220] I actually pointed this out to JC when we were at the Venice museum. 

[221] Earlier JC had expressed admiration for Tiepolo. 

[222] Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well, 1978, fresco, 5 X 4ft., Maryknoll Grade School, Honolulu.

[223] DZC was doing so much for him at the time, I think he wanted to do something for her.  

[224] Mary Our Mother, begun August 1978 installed September 6, 1979, ceramic sculpture, 15 ft. high, including base, courtyard, Maryknoll Grade School, Honolulu, Hawai‘i.  Coordinator: Evelyn Giddings.  

[225] I remember working with JC on the statue.  He was doing the robe, whose feathers would be represented by pressing in the broad end of a large tongue depresser.  This seemed easy, but my hands tired very quickly.  I was amazed that JC could keep on going, seemingly indefinitely.  He must have had very strong hands.  In the early 1970s, Gard Kealoha remarked to me on JC’s unusually strong handshake; he felt his hand was being crushed.  That surprised me, but I don’t think I ever shook hands with JC. 

[226] “The Buddhist Works of Isami Doi,” Honolulu, April 1979, 34 ff.    

[227] JC had done the same thing for the LCC mural: use of bold outlines that others could put on the wall and fill in if he died before it got that far. 

[228] The Art Contribution to Civilization of All Nations and Countries.  The Straubenmüller Textile High School for the Humanities (now the Bayard Rustin High School for the Humanities), oil on prepared wall, 500 square feet, 1936 [date from contract; JC’s catalogue states: “Begun August 1934,  Destroyed 1935.”].  United States Works Progress Administration, Federal Sponsored Art Project, New York City (Project 65–1699).  JC oversaw the art students and he himself painted the central niche, to which he gave the title Head, Crowned with Laurels.  This was overpainted after the completion of the mural, and JC always listed the mural as destroyed.  The entire mural (but not Head Crowned with Laurels) was restored by the Adopt–A–Mural Program, with restoration completed in 1995. 

[229] Pollock expert, Francis O’Connor, denied that the artist had ever made little sculptures. 

[230] The last sentence doesn’t mean Kline was working at the school, just that he was in the same school as Pollock. 

[231] Vermeer, Diana and her Companions, 1655–1656, Mauritshuis, The Hague. 

[232] Eva Cockcroft, John Weber, and James Cockcroft, Toward a People’s Art: The Contemporary Mural Movement (New York: Dutton, 1977).  

[233] JC admired news photographs and used them in his work.  He once said that the photograph of the discovery of Aldo Moro’s body in the trunk of a car was very beautiful. 

[234] “José Guadalupe Posada and his Successors,” in Posada’s Mexico, edited by Ron Tyler (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress in cooperation with the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, 1979), 29–57. 

[235] EugŹne Fromentin, Dominique, Classiques Garnier series (Paris: Editions Garnier FrŹres, 1960).  

[236] Yasutada Watanabe, Shinto Art: Ise and Izumo Shrines, Heibonsha Survey of Japanese Art (New York: Weatherhill/Heibonsha, 1974).  

[237] Rudolf Herman Fuchs, Dutch Painting (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978).   

[238] Tsuneo Takeda, Kano Eitoku, Japanese Arts Library, vol. 3 (Tokyo; New York: Kodansha International, 1977).   

[239] Madlyn Millner Kahr, Dutch Painting in the Seventeenth Century (New York: Harper and Row, 1978).

[240] Jean Charlot, Figure with body painting and wearing tumpline, area 15&16, Temple of Warriors, oil, 57.5 cm X 48.5 cm, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology Number 62-11-20/25216a, 1926(?).