Substantial and scarce Autograph Letter Signed, to his biographer James Thrall Soby, 4pp on two 4to sheets, New York, Nov. 6, 1947
by TCHELITCHEW, PAVEL
He writes about the importance of his friendship with his correspondent, James Thrall Soby, (1906-1979) author, critic, collector and patron of the arts, particularly modern Art. Soby wrote a biography of Tchelitchew in 1942. Tchelitchew refers to Nellie, Soby's wife Eleanor ("Nellie") Howland, whom he married in February 1938. He begins with an effusive reference to a visit from Soby to see him and his partner, "Charlie," Charles Henri Ford (1913- 2002) writer filmmaker, photographer, and collage artist best known as editor of the Surrealist magazine "View," (1940-1947). Tchelitchew continues noting that he is aware that Soby loves Tchelitchew's painting. "I have so much to tell you on account of the long intervals of time when we have no chance of seing [sic] each other...you have no chance to tell me what yourself you wanted to know from me...you'll here shut me up and get what you wanted to know. I think it would be much farer [sic] if you make an [sic] questionary [sic] of all the things you'll like me to answer, and I will answer to you. If the answers are...confusing on account of my english [sic] and my metaforic [sic] way of thinking - then we'll see each other and discuss the answers one by one...I can help you in that with pleasure answering your questionary [sic] and analysing myself... about the biography was that I was upset by it. When Lincoln's book on me arrived ...I was struck with incoherences which certainly have arrived on account of me talking too much in elaboret [sic] way. I think a biography is very important...it has sort of a tree pattern as the inner man too. So as every tree has his special particularity of development based on directions and circumstances, on drought and rains - sun and moon - so have we to. Therefore an [sic] not accurate biography will not only make confusion but will ...in error, as far as the analysis of one given man's work...that was of primal importance to me because the facts of my life and carrere [sic] are known far better to me than to others and I do not believe that in exagarating [sic] or inventing on's [sic] biography as many of my friends do they are giving anything but confusion...Naturally the biography is very simple structure...Now to judge an [sic] living artist work not as important because most of judgements [sic] are based on opinions and opinions often are erroneous. The onely [sic] true way to say anything of a contemporary living artists to analyse him in itself - no one gains anything in comparison as if I would look in a hidden mirror...I see in my work certain signs of an order frankly unknown to me until recently...So my dear Jim - please ask me anything you like to know...the work which remains becomes another kind of body, a concentrated one..after all we are the roots that grow our flowers which grow and bloom...." He signs, "Pavel." With holograph envelope addressed to Soby and signed again on verso in the return address, "Tchelitchew." The reference to Lincoln is likely to his friend, Lincoln Kirstein (1907-96), writer, New York cultural figure and best known as founder of the New York City Ballet with Balanchine. Tchelitchew also painted Kirstein's portrait. Tchelitchew's most significant work is considered to be "Hide and Seek", painted in 1940-42 the year of Soby's biography. The content of this letter suggests that Tchelitchew wanted to correct Soby's biographical portrait of him. (Inventory #: 2459)
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