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)

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