Audrey Flack Retains It True

The petite, ninety-12 months-previous artist Audrey Flack just lately welcomed a visitor to her East Hampton dwelling, which earlier belonged to Jimmy (son of Max) Ernst. “Jimmy experienced actual Surrealist flavor,” Flack, who wore jeans, rainbow socks, and gold hoop earrings, stated. “When I moved in, the kitchen area was avocado eco-friendly, with plaid carpeting.” She plopped on to a voluminous white couch, beneath a 2004 get the job done of her individual, a Medusa rendered in pink glitter, titled “Art Is the Previous Judgment,” and reminisced about Yale’s artwork plan in the fifties, when the design and style section was headed by Josef Albers. By her account, he was a little bit of a letch.

Audrey FlackIllustration by João Fazenda

“Albers was not terrible, just dangerous,” she explained. “That sweet minor pink-cheeked Bavarian gentleman. But it was not as poor as the Cedar Tavern. You just understood what was heading to take place there. Reuben Nakian, he’s like a 2nd-degree Ab Ex sculptor. He’s a tiny male, as well, and I was younger, and he will come up to me and he puts his palms here.” She grabbed her breasts.

Hollis Taggart gallery is exhibiting Flack’s early, mostly Summary Expressionist function at the Hamptons Wonderful Artwork Good, this weekend, underneath the title “Last Lady Standing.” Her floppy-haired studio manager, Severin Delfs, served tea from a blue teapot that had belonged to Elaine de Kooning.

“The Ab Ex females were worse than the guys,” Flack said. “Worse in the feeling that they felt that they had to outdrink the males. They purchased into a conduct. The sex! It was mad. I was no angel. But the females pay out the value.” She turned her attention to Delfs. “Sevvy, my darling, you might have to incorporate hot h2o since it gets quite strong—Elaine’s teapot does not make great tea.” She went on, “Lee was always mad at Elaine for getting Bill’s name. She’d say, ‘I’m Lee Krasner, I’m not Lee Pollock. You’re Audrey Flack!’ Elaine, in retaliation, bought a puppy that she called Jackson, and she would say, ‘Jackson, sit!’ ”

Delfs additional, “This pet dog was evidently a stray and walked into Bill de Kooning’s studio and shat in the middle of the floor. And they ended up, like, that’s just like Jackson!”

Flack recalled that in the mid-century artwork environment it was “almost radical to say you could be a mom, to discuss about your young children.” When a Madison Avenue gallery director requested to see Flack’s groundbreaking photograph-realist paintings, in 1963, she scuttled her two daughters and their babysitter out of her 104th Street condominium, whose dining space served as her studio. “I ran close to the residence placing clothes, diapers, all the things away. Any indicator that I had a youngster experienced to be erased.” The gallerist provided her portray of John F. Kennedy in a present titled “Six Girls Artists.”

The critic Hilton Kramer panned her image-realist operates as “kitschy continue to-lifes” in 1976, the yr immediately after MOMA acquired 1. Flack has shelves of campy trinkets (a mug with bobbling breasts, a cobra clock) that she lovingly dealt with on the way to her studio, which housed significant sculptures of Daphne, Eve, and an additional Medusa, alongside an in-development Dürer-Disney mashup painting.

“I’m normally in advance,” Flack claimed. “It’s just a simple fact. They’ll capture up to this things. There were being great sculptors in the eighteen-hundreds, the ‘New Sculptors,’ and Rodin comes and knocks them all out—that’s an additional bastard. He had females do all his marbles and his models run close to bare. He was a perv.”

Flack performed banjo in a team referred to as Audrey Flack and the Background of Artwork Band, for which she wrote a song about Rodin’s lover, the sculptor Camille Claudel. She sang, “I fell in enjoy with Rodin / I considered he was my only man / but then he double-crossed me / he broke my coronary heart, oh, woe is me.”

“It’s appealing,” she reported. “I never appreciated Rodin’s operate. What did Pollock say? You paint who you are.” So why does she continue to keep returning to Medusa?

Flack mused, “Medusa was a triplet—Medusa, Stheno, and Euryale—and she was the only normal 1. They had been Gorgons with fangs and claws and scales, but she was lovely. Her mother is the mom of all monsters, lousy female. Then she has Medusa, who sings like an angel. And Poseidon normally takes 1 look at her and falls in love. And what do Greek gods do when they slide in love?” A loaded pause.

Delfs chimed in, “So she’s working absent and finishes up in Athena’s temple, inquiring for support.”

Flack: “But he rapes her, in the temple. Now, the fantasy is that Athena is so indignant that her temple was defiled that she turns Medusa’s hair to snakes.”

Delfs: “Punishes the woman.”

Flack: “She’s not only raped, she’s blamed for it! But I feel there’s an additional aspect, simply because the simple fact that her hair receives turned to snakes empowers her. Now she appears at a man and he turns to stone. So she’s also recognised as the terrific sculptor—all these frozen guys!” ♦