Emerson Burkhart � 'Woman in Venice' 1962, oil on canvas, 50 x 40. (From Collection of Geoff Hetrick)
NOTE: Burkhart was persuaded by his patron, Karl Jaeger, to become a member of the faculty for the International School of America. His title was, ‘Artist-in-Residence� with no confining classroom hours. Mere association with Burkhart in any around-the-world setting would be a lesson for students in art history. He painted in all ports of call for the Jaeger program. This is a portrait of Elizabeth Dasher, a young woman from Columbus then on one of the ISA study trips.
Script Page 9
Thought about all those white broads Rubens painted... all with fat stomachs, double chins, phony red lips just like he'd had Helena Rubenstein right there beside him to get 'em ready.
These Eurasian women don't need a thing. Still I think that way. Still I think it was a mixture of the best of everything. Here we have nature doing the paint mixing. All I had to do was copy it.
Perfect skin! Just the perfect mixture of black and brown and red and white and yellow...now if you wanna give God credit for doing something good, then let him take credit for mixing the Eurasian.
I know you think I give women hell, but then I know what I'm talking about. I've known the best. I know I can tell better'n you what is pretty...or which is prettiest. You may be able to write about what they say better'n me, but, hell, it's the picture that counts...what you see with the eyeball that really counts.
When I got married, took me a long time to really git around to doing it. But I knew from the start that Mary Ann was mine...let's see, started dating her when she was fifteen... I was twenty-eight.
I knew from the start...Mary Ann was a woman who was awfully glad she was a woman. She was a beautiful, very lovely woman...I'd always be leaving Columbus for Cincinnati...or New York for awhiIe, but I'd always come back and there would be Mary Ann.
She didn't like to battle the world. I think maybe she was born to be the wife of an artist...we were married in 1939... then we moved to Cincinnati...for a year and a half...then got a mural job to do at Ohio State...Ten panels in the new school of Social Administration. So we moved back to CoIumbus... this was prior to buying this catastrophe here...
Mary Ann was my critic...the only critic I ever held hands with...and she was very talented...wanted to be' an actress, but the very delicate nature of the woman was against her. She really wanted to avoid the spotlight...and went to great lengths ... she didn't like publicity...
She was the kind to be an artist's wife...she'd known the good life. She came from a well-off famiIy. Her dad lost everything in the depression...Cities Service stock dropped from about eighty-five dollars to...ah, eighty cents. So she knew the good side...then I came along ... and this must have been what she wanted.
She knew what she liked that I painted. Most everything. One thing she didn't like was Man...the one the Gallery has. I think one of the reasons was she didn't want me represented by just one. She thought Columbus Gallery ought to have more than one Emerson Burkhart.
So do I.
Then, too, I wanted her. She was beautiful...was a model for a number of great artists in her time...Eugene Speicher for one...Yasuo Kuniyoshi another...Speicher painted her three times...one of them in the Whitney Museum... She never pushed me into making portraits, or commissions, or potboilers to make more money than we did. She would rather have a man paint a picture that was immortally a masterpiece... she'd rather be married to an Edgar Allen Poe and starve to death in the gutter...if he could write something that would endure.
This was the kind of idealism in her that I think is fabulous. She was the kind of woman I needed.
Women...you never saw a great...I mean a great great woman painter.
You never heard a great woman composer.
But you sit there and a half dozen names out of history come to your mind. You say Madame Curie. Hell, everything she was given credit for was started by her husband. He was the genius. When he died, the scientific societies had to give somebody the medals...so they gave them to her.
And besides, it made a better movie that way.
In Spain...I painted there two summers, every giant cathedral that you see, there'll be three houses of prostitution within its shadow.
It's sanctioned, it's approved.
The British women are something special though...the British woman has an integrity, a tenacity that keeps men going...look back and see what the British woman meant to this country...it was British women who made our men build log cabins...they had a courage.
They demonstrated this in the last world war when Churchill said...said so many owe so much to so few...later he spoke of the brave pilots who had women prodding them on.
I knew a girl in England...Elizabeth Hancock. From Leeds. learned something about the British women from this girl.
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