Alexander Eliot – Free at Last

300 Years of American PaintingDuring my early years at Time I had nothing but black and white “cuts” of artworks to illustrate my section. Finally, Dana Tasker succeeded in establishing a regular “art-color page”, with me choosing the material and writing the copy.

Soon afterward, Tack left Time to join Look magazine.

At fifty-two issues a year, it wasn’t long before Time accumulated a color reproduction “electroplate” equity worth millions of dollars.

Then one day in January, 1956, over lunch at the Century Club, I fell into fateful conversation with a visiting French critic.

I happened to mention my enthusiasm for American art.
Exuding Continental courtesy, the critic carved the air with his hands: “Mais, oui.  Pre-Columbian sculpture.”

“No,” I said, “I mean painting.”

“Vous avez raison. Jackson Pollock!”

“Aren’t you aware of any other art on our side of the water?

“Alors. Nothing to pause over.”

I gaped at the man, thanked him kindly for getting my all-American goat, rose from my chair, and scurried back to Time. There I scrolled a sheet of paper into my typewriter and banged out an urgent memo to my bosses.

Time Inc, I wrote, ought to publish an art book authored by myself and designed to re-cycle over two hundred American  paintings in our color-reproduction bank. We could, for the first time, firmly establish American painting on the world map.

(Excerpt from Alex’s forthcoming memoir, to be published by WriteSpa Press)

Alexander Eliot – The Dali News

The Persistence of Memory

Most critics up to now have sneeringly dismissed the art of Salvador Dali. It’s almost as if they resented its popular impact. I myself believe he’ll eventually be revered as an uneven, weird, yet absolutely topnotch “Old Master.”

Dali’s signature image hangs at Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art. Created in exquisite Flemish Primitive style, “The Persistence of Memory” features a half-melted watch dangling from the outstretched arm of a dead tree.

Done in 1931, that picture foreshadowed the horrors of World War Two. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were great cities untll American atom bomb attacks melted and tossed whole multitudes of Japanese urbanites in mid-thought and their wristwatches in mid-tick.

The limp watch that Dali depicted still ticks, tocks, and knocks upon public consciousness. This never would have happened, were it not for the input of an intellectually intense and sexually insatiable Russian woman nicknamed Gala.

(Excerpt from Alex’s forthcoming memoir, to be published by WriteSpa Press)

Book Review – Earth, Air, Fire and Water

Anyone who dares to delve into the condition of 20th century American life is most probably doing it to earn a doctorate. Not so author Alexander Eliot, 43, an out-of-place, out-of-sorts, self-styled recluse who, on the pine-clad slopes of Mount Pentelikon, near Athens, pondered the question, put down his answer in the dozen meditations of this new book.

Book Review of Earth Air Fire and Water in Time Magazine, December 4, 1962:

Anyone who dares to delve into the condition of 20th century American life is most probably doing it to earn a doctorate. Not so author Alexander Eliot, 43, an out-of-place, out-of-sorts, self-styled recluse who, on the pine-clad slopes of Mount Pentelikon, near Athens, pondered the question, put down his answer in the dozen meditations of this new book. Continue reading “Book Review – Earth, Air, Fire and Water”

Three Hundred Years of American Painting

Three Hundred Years of American Painting
(New York: Time, Inc., 1957)

“American art matters,” declared Eliot in his pitch to write the definitive history of American painting. His compelling anecdotes about the artists, as well as over 1,000 superb color plates, proves that it does. In 1962 John F. Kennedy selected Eliot’s extraordinary and complete history of American painting as one of his favorite books of the year. Continue reading “Three Hundred Years of American Painting”