It is not that in my ninth decade I have nothing to occupy me other than the creation of my own web site. On the contrary, I already find it the labour of Sisyphus to maintain what remains of my intellect before it collapses like the “one-hoss shay” of Oliver Wendell Holmes; and a life in the arts needs an eternity of thought and experience to satiate desires such as mine. But I have often been reproached by more scholarly friends for not writing more, and especially for not seeking to publish certain public lectures that have been well received, and they have finally opened my eyes to the merits of the web – which offers no refusal slips, no return of unpublished manuscripts and, most particularly, no aggravating editorial errors. I still smart when I recall the days before I acquired the competence to send my writings electronically – days when I once had three consecutive essays and a book review all catastrophically marred while being transcribed from my hard copy, the proofs of which I was never offered the opportunity to see (due, no doubt, to the hubris of my editors and the imagined infallibility of their electronics). On the other hand, any errors that follow, whether of logic, taste or grammar, are inexorably my own. The image in the site logo, top-left, is a photo that appeared above my column “Art in London” in the Swedish newspaper Göteborgs Tidningen in the late fifties and early sixties.
I have decided to start the site with some graphic works that remain from my student days at Goldsmiths’ College (1950–53). These are followed by the republication of eight book reviews from the many I wrote some fifty years ago in England for Athene, the journal of the Society for Education through Art, of which I was the editor from 1957 to 1963. I have selected these reviews because, except for two, they deal with what might be called the problem of “creativity,” which still remains a subject of debate. The exceptions are, first, some comments on the state of art-book publishing in the 1950s and on some of those published by Faber and Faber in a series called “The Faber Gallery,” and, second, a review of Reyner Banham’s book, Theory and Design in the First Machine Age, for which I have added an introduction that concerns the author’s relationship to events of the early 1950s, related to London’s newly created Institute of Contempory Arts. In this section I have added some pieces of journalism published in Canadian Art during the mid 1960s and some catalogue essays written during my years as Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario (1967–72). Finally I include various public lectures, speeches given to open various events, a convocation address and other matters up to the time of establishing this website.
While adjusting an occasional infelicity of style in these pieces, I have changed little of their content or their form.
Note: Because private websites do not usually possess the complex software used in the commercial world, the setting of certain headings may sometimes appear slightly corrupted, especially on iPads and laptops. If this should happen to a reader with an iPad who also owns a desk top then he/she should try the other computer; otherwise nothing can be done. Fortunately, however, it is only an aesthetic problem and will not affect the texts.