by Herbert Blau

There were other places from which to look, but you could see the Magic Mountain from Aix. I am thinking not only of Sainte-Victoire, but of Hans Castorp aloft with his petite tache and Cezanne below with his petite sensation--the wound and the suture, the one a symptom of cultural disease, the other of the technique which, pat by inexorable pat of pigment, tried to seal it off against itself. Rilke describes how Cezanne, aging, went about his little town between furious labors, guessing at the horrors without from the slightest deterioration within. "Ca va mal . . . C'est effrayant, la vie." For some, it was better not to look; the nineteenth century, with its passion for analysis, had looked too much. But if looking could take away, seeing could restore. It was a more stringent optical analysis-the oscillant contours and the facet-planes, the packed mosaic of the incorruptible gaze-that salvaged the reality of the apple from the wear and tear of history.

Not only life but the technique had something hermetic about it. The risk was tyranny. Cezanne's was one of those astonishing efforts of modern art to avert the time-serving disaster of experience by bringing form to its knees. At its most intimidating, there was a strange airless beauty about it, like James' Millie Theale, "heiress of all the ages," who was also the survivor of a "general wreck." A little grace goes a long way, however, and for all his doggedness and insularity, Cezanne opened vistas for the Cubists and others. Yet, through no conscious fault of his own, there seemed to be a dead end in the middle distance. The record is there, and I am no authority. But despite the ferment of all the isms, after two wars it no longer remained a question for some artists of redeeming the apple but rather what do you do with the funeral baked meats? Cezanne tried to see things into being; now we can hardly believe our eyes. Max Ernst said, "the object sees itself in me; now the object, wherever it may be, may have reasonable doubt that we exist.

Thus: a good lot of our art is Lidicean, dreaming on vacancy. Born of relativity, rapes, and boneshops, it studies lasers and talks of "breakthrough." It has the texture of fallout, and given that environment conveys the impression-since confirmed by nuclear scientists-that insects are the fittest to survive. Look at it: the abscessionist canvas, the collage, the combine-painting the whole Tachist and tacky assemblage of gouge, slice, muck, and slime. I am not being pejorative: art has its reasons. And its own defense policy. In its fierce sluice and savage thrust it may appear to contend with the social wound by doing injury to itself. But by the perverse logic of the new logistics, self-abuse is one mode of deterrency. In its desperation to keep things alive, some of the art may remind us of the fertilizer marches of backward countries-salvation by excrement. (They say that in Communist China some of those who march with leavings in their hands refuse to wash as a badge of honor.) In its remedial aspect, it is the art of proctological science. As mythos, it is the manger without the Magi but maybe a couple of deadbeat clowns. It is not without magic. Nor a sense of humor, because all its horrendous incongruities sink to the base court of comedy which, the most artful of forms, thumbs its nose at art. Appearing improvident, it practices a frugal economy. "Thrift, thrift," said Hamlet about those funeral baked meats. Collage and combine, in their American manifestations, are the lumpenheirs of Poor Richard's Almanac: junk-wise, crap-happy, they save everything.

At the technique of anti-art, the artists have become experts: Duchamp, by drawing a mustache above the Giaconda Smile; Picasso, by burlesque of almost everything in sight; the self-destroying creations (or is it self-creating destructions?) of Tinguely; the old Dada and the new "happenings." Cezanne could make monuments of sensations; we make sensations of monuments. A student of mine-a sculptor in my playwriting class-wrote a drama in obeisance to Artaud's "No More Masterpieces"; the chief scenic artifact, aptly conceived, was a huge anus, up which at one climax went Michelangelo's David. Another student announced he was going down to the Palace of the Legion of Honour--with its resplendent view of the Golden Gate--and desecrate a painting. I understood the fertility rights involved. As Sweeney said of the woman drowned in Lysol, every man has to, needs to, wants to, once in a lifetime, do a painting in. In class, I had talked of the ethics of outrage; in the theater, I had practiced the virtue of "the destructive element." I was not wholly responsible for the breed, but by my green candle! I had thrust the unmentionable mop into the hand of Ubu.

Ubu, like all comic heroes, never dies; but, self-indulgent, slovenly, and false (yes; false, forgive my value system), he can be a terrible bore. And, through all the cliches of "breakthrough," we prowl the new frontiers for signs of order. In the beginning was neither word nor flesh, only the beginning. He who was there first looks classical. Study the Blue Poles: they take a lot of the heart out of a lot of happenings. The miracle of motion becomes an icon of the Id; postlapsarian turbulence is brought to a god-like halt. Ur-mensch of "breakthrough," Pollock is now an Idea of Order. Through which we try to break through. The drips and blobs become "draggings," and the great rough beast slouches to the scrap heap to be born.

When art turns itself loose on art, the result can be monstrous. When such art is at its best, judgment is not annihilated, only badgered. At its worst, it is no longer reflecting disorder but fallen in love with it. It may compel us to say, like one critic exasperated by the chronic stunts and the whole hackneyed ideology of outrage: "Having neither faith nor hope, we thrash about in our frustration, now with violence and brutality, now with vulgarity and inanity, or again with bleak anguish or hyena laughter, with mad intoxication or abysmal depravity. Our imaginations run now to pointless banalities, now to abnormalities and freaks, and each artist strives with studied care to create more monstrous mutations . Our craftless works of anti-art are made only to feed the passions of the moment, and will not outlast their makers." If the complainant weren't put down as a "fink" (from the labor law of the academies of the far-out), the retort would be that such indifference is the highsign of humility. But it is only a retort, and we shall return to the problem.

Meanwhile, our predicament is curiously described in a recent news item from Dar-es-Salaam in Tanganyika, where natives are warned to be on the alert for the bloodthirsty lion-men of Singidia, who are taught by witch-doctors, usually women, to walk on all fours from childhood. They wear lion skins and kill at night with their claws. All the efforts of the government to wipe them out have failed. Reported on the rampage again, they caused the regional commissioner of the African National Party to call for their extinction: "Those still posing as lions and walking on all fours and killing others must be routed out. We must bury the traditions of the past."

Serious as it is, the whirligig is laughable. Breakthrough, as always, breaks down in parody.
Parody is the risk taken by Robert LaVigne, whose "Black Art" (a series of collages) owes a debt to assorted lions: Artaud, Ubu, Genet, and Cezanne. "I am the thief in the night, he wrote to me once with dark humor. "Beware my shifty voice." He meant it in a mantic way, but given the nature of the collage, there is a relation between prophecy and pillage. What you see depends on what you turn up, and the reverence you have for it. For all his participation in the effort of neo-Dada art to take off like the Bird, LaVigne is an incurable stylist, even a collector. "Standing away from myself," he wrote, "what do I observe? Another 'curator.' But what painter today is not?" Still, there are collections and collections; and style is finally of the viscera. Though he presses down on nature with the optical nerve, LaVigne has a secret longing to be a surrealist-against, he feels, the grain of the American temperament and language. Like Blake, he also looks "through the eye, not with it." The art, thus, is not analytical, but alchemical, like the theater imagined by Artaud. It is a matter of leashing spirit until, as Artaud says, "it has passed through all the filters and foundations of existing matter . . ."

Whatever LaVigne picks up in his wary passage, forage and style go through the crucible of a fine sensibility. One has only to glance at a work like "Banner" to feel the thrashing about, the impulse to desecrate; but try as he may, LaVigne can only be so destructive. His taste is unregenerate. He is disciplined. He has-I remember his scowl when I first told him this-elegance. And his work is theatrical-that is, exhibitionist-in a bygone tradition. He may want to swim underwater, but the collages grow, indeed, out of his activity as a scene designer-which accounts for the scale of some of them, and their public force. In grace, proportion, and technique, his "Ship of State" bears an affinity to his great ravaged bas-relief for King Lear.

 BANNER, 1961 BANNER, 1961
Assemblage 144” x 60.5”
Collection of the Artist (disassembled)
San Francisco, California

Assemblage 258” x 117” x 39”
Collection of the Artist (disassembled)
San Francisco, California

A black minstrel galleon of lace, staff, and canvas, the "Ship of State" carries a cargo of old-fashioned corn, including a skull-and-crossbones aloft and a portrait of Little Egypt (resembling Jacqueline Kennedy) in the hold. What keeps it from going under in parody, which is the result of style turned back on itself? It is that at some point he stops rocking the boat. Just as in King Lear, the spilled germens, the rips and wounds of the backdrop, the buried motifs of rack and wheel of fire point, by form, to the "clearest gods," so there is obscured up on the mast of the "Ship of State," black on black, an impaled eagle, like the patch of heaven clutched by the drowning Tashtego. Parody, which tears down, cuts off at the intimation of belief. Though there are parodistic barnacles on the "Ship of State," it is something genuinely built up-a romantic work which, on the verge of being embarrassed by itself, turns out to be enchanting. The ship supersedes the cargo, and it sings upon the ways, if only an uncertain doxology of demons.

For all the relativity of junk, LaVigne has his prejudices. Some of his found objects are handsome in themselves, in a quite different way from Duchamp's wheel and stool. I am thinking of the slotted "Communion of Saints"; the gear mechanism of the "Resting Machine" (with the sheen of a Biblical lady); and-though the blonde glamour girl is facile-the comely fur of "White," which is not the fur of the pretty foxhead, whose expression is dour though its eyes are of pearl. Sometimes, as in "Conjunction," a clumsy gadget-like the mercury tube with expanso link and clasp-is made reliquary by saturnian color below it and by composition, as is the (glazier's?) grid above the taut corpus and pipes of "Cocteau." In "Conjunction," the row of faces below the panel inclines to easy satire. However, one looks closely and sees they are subtly scissored, each single face made of two, in psychologically mated and ironic halves.

Collage & Assembly on Objet Trouvee 14” x 12” x 112” (approx)
Collection of the Artist Whereabouts Unknown
Assemblage 16” x 13” (approx)
Collection of the Artist
San Francisco, California
 WHITE, 1959
Collage, Assembly & Paint
19” x 12” (approx)
Private Collection
New York

Assembly and Collage 20” x 20” (approx)
Collection of the Artist
San Francisco, California
Assemblage 51” x 48”
Collection of the Artist
San Francisco, California

Whether he halves faces or turns broken spokes of an umbrella into a bird ("Wedding in Pasadena") he sees his objects as sources of transformation, the collage as an alembic. It is a very minor thing, yet in trying to find a use for what appears to be a coin tray, LaVigne creates a triptych with "emblematic niches." The saints would be more obtrusive and the irony more coarse were it not for the whiting of the slotted sepulchers, which keeps prominent the character of the metal; in fact, there is virtually no irony. So too, before they become anything else, the umbrella spokes are umbrella spokes, plain junk. Yet, at some critical point, LaVigne does become fetishist, fondles his objects, like Beckett's Hamm. The choice is discreet; composition is a ceremony; the work is an icon, however provisional. Unlike Rauschenberg, he is not stressing the urban commitment of his refuse, nor does he confuse the borders of art-space and real-space by bringing some portion of the construction arbitrarily out where we stand. Nor is there the same deadpan impersonal stance. The larger works are autobiographical, gnostic, and incantatory. The aim, somewhere in the future, not a masterpiece but, in thaumaturgical fashion, a Magnum Opus. It is revealing, I think, that there is generally more painting in his work than in most combines, as if, distracted from Mystery by objects, he needs to return through the evocative possibilities of pure medium.

Assemblage and Paint on Canvas 96” x 69”
Collection of the Artist Whereabouts Unknown

The collages suggest in their varied tone that when LaVigne speaks of a shifty voice, he has some doubts as to when he is most authentic. It is not merely that there are changing moods, that's anybody's privilege. It's that the moods distrust each other incessantly-and that, with all the attendant insecurity, becomes his subject in the main works. It is not simply narcissistic, nor does it result in simple transference, projecting the condition within on the world without. Where LaVigne practices desecration, where he is given to "bleak anguish" or "monstrous mutations," he does not exempt himself. He often does to his own work what my student wanted to do to that painting at the Legion of Honour; the assault becomes part of the collages, differing from the normal process of Action Painting by refusing to let it be an affair of paint and canvas only; objective images arise "Banner" and "Wedding in Pasadena" are works struggling with the desire to mutilate these images and themselves, expending and recovering spirit in a waste of shame. And indeed, I am writing of him now not because his work is achieved, but because it dramatizes the issues with which I began; and because, though he himself insists that "painting is an old man's art," he is one of those maturing artists whose talents, a combination of power and delicacy, might have flourished differently and more equitably in another time, when his weaknesses (which I am not excusing) might have been unnecessary. What most enrages LaVigne, I sometimes feel, is his own gifts. In his "Self-Portrait" he is not being portrayed but; relinquished, cast up in the submission to texture. One is not sure that the shapes suspended on the surface want to be there at all, though confession gives them no choice in the matter. The yearning of the figure below and the wraith of a figure above aspire to the fullness of the collaged pleating which might have come out of the Primavera. Below that, unexplored, the dark satanic mills, perturbed by unrealized ghosts.

Where the figure appears in the desolate "landscapes" of the more painterly collages, it is
no easy way out. After the exhaustion of non-being in abstract expressionism, the temptation, among some painters, is to try figures on for size. LaVigne can be tendencious (indeed, I have accused him of admiring artists without half his talent); yet in his work the figures are compulsions, competing with the bleakness to keep it from going blank. Out of the junk culture of "Wedding in Pasadena"-the pressed metal, the invert violin, the penis light bulb, the rubber glove, the shoulder pads, the awful gouge in the center, crumpled cloth and parasol-come two stolid figures, either boxing or embracing or both. At a distance, through all the crud and flak of disbelief, green and horrifically glazed, they remind you of Cezanne's Bathers. In black-and-white, we cannot see i;hem birthed through junk by color, but this is a combine-painting that reverses the trend of anti-art; by loot and lust, we come upon a restoration. It's a proper job for a curator.

Another collage, "Red: Descent of the Image," starts directly with the image, a vaguely Hellenic head, helmet stitched of tattered cloth, face painted, nose and mouth flecked into mutilation. A patch on the cheek anticipates the value of an area below the chin, which might be read as a grey-beard loon, an aged Silenus. In this work, the transformation is both associative and ideological, the downward dissolution involving personal fantasy, an experiment in color, and a commentary on western art. (LaVigne says he chose his postcards mainly for the red, but it is curious-if not especially pregnant-that in the top row of a collection of religious art, mainly Annunciations there is Manet's piper.) The helmet flap and string drop across a baffle to a lower panel; there, the corrugations descend to a purgatory in which the image-the artist's original offering-is reconstituted, like the color, in a series of emergent figures, grave, hieratic, and strangely nubile. The means are coarse; the effect is patrician.

Assemblage of Collage and Paint
74.25” x 30.5”
Katredralskol Collection
Kristiansand, Norway

In some works, the elegance and alchemy are upset by a kind of Caligari glee-which, in
a predilection to certain bourgeois heads, looks Grosz and feels gratuitous. Thus, one of his most refined pieces, "Funk: Peacock War," has a central frame, with an orange sun on a wine field, above a Cleopatra's brace of blue peacocks, more peacocks pasted on the frame. As in his "Self-Portrait," the collage is calligraphic. In the corners, however, are four apertures, which surround the peacock with forms of action domiciled in Genet's bordello: voyeurism, fetishism, the grotesque, and cruelty. The general composition is not anathema to peacocks, but the photograph bottom left comes out of the ideological stereotypes of anti-bourgeois art. It helps account for the funk, but is overbearing. Like the barbs, bars, rogue's gallery, and effete fringe of "Genet" ("My heart's in my hand and my hand pierced . . . "), it suffers from inverse moralism. The composition is otherwise flawless, but some details ask to be looked at-looked at, they sometimes carry around a residue of unexamined life.

Collage on Objet Trouvee
40” x 50” (approx)
Private Collection
Seattle, Washington
Collage & Assemblage 72” x 22.75”
Collection of the Artist Kentfield, California


Not that LaVigne doesn't know about the bourgeois; only in some instances his distaste is unassimilated; and frankly, where he really lives, he knows more about peacocks. When his mordancy is more abstract it is, for me, more successful, as in "October 22: Night of the Bull" and "Funeral of Divine," with its macabre elegance-though it feels impatient with itself as well. His designs for Endgame, infusing a play constructed like a collage, were grim but profoundly witty, a seminal image. And he can be mirthful in his mordancy, as in the portrait of "The Actress," with a chokerful of pearls, rows of pearl teeth, Byzantine eyes in a masqued face, veiled, a radiant suffusion of hair, fringed and backed in black. The dark humor turns tragic in such a piece as "Ikon," with its spectral figures on plates, like offerings out of the unconscious.

   OCTOBER 22: 1959
Collage & Assemblage on and in 16” x 13”
A Found Object
Collection of the Artist
San Francisco, California
   Interior of NIGHT OF THE BULL
   ACTRESS, 1961
Collage & Assembly 16.25 “ x 13.25”
San Jose Museum of Art
San Jose, California
   IKON, 1961
Painted Assemblage 21.5” x 14.75”
Collection of the Artist
New York

Collage is a metropolitan art to which he brings a rural spirit floating on the abyss; it is the tone of Poe and Melville's Pierre. Black Art is a hothouse affair, but LaVigne, who comes from the Pacific Northwest, tends his satanic flowers with a nostalgia for real mountains and genuine landscape. The lyricism, the mordancy, the loss of nature to the artificial lore of nature comes in artful meditation out of the frayed cloth of "Black: In Memory of My Dead Bamboo Tree.'1 It is minor, a brief moment in dark musings, reminding one of Redon and Baudelaire-and I make these allusions because one aspect of his collages is allusion, not only junk but the heritage of art itself is collected. It is not quite quotation, but rather more like the extension of texture in a Japanese Noh or a Beckett play, which tries to preserve in ritual what has in fact been lost.

Painted Assembly 19” x 16”
Collection of Mount Holyoke College
Amherst, Massachusetts

The Magnum Opus of his exhibition of Black Art is, in my opinion, "Erection of the Double," which collects the images, devices, sources, and literary values of the other works. It is the most complete and the most prophetic, the most incantatory and the most objective, the most skillfully collaged and the painted. The figures have more authority than those in "Self-Portrait"; yet the strong presence down right, with its miniature double (raw and whitened in the photograph, crepuscular in the original), is earned from mass and texture. The face is there, though its features incline to facelessness. Its serenity is dependent on the swirl of the shape blown out of the tubes, and floating on the deep. The tubes come out of the canopy above the roil and firmament of the collage, made of a Persian carpet. If the figures are born out of the surface, rhythm is the midwife. And it is a searching, cyclic, unpremeditated rhythm, prompted by Artaud-indeed, a testament to him-but feeding on its own fantasy, violated by and ceremonious unto itself. Ridge, roughage, corolla and pock are moments in an allegory; the shapes, with secret relations below the surface, refigure themselves before us. The eye is directed by a dark sluice coming out of the writhing figure and going up the center of the canvas. An ominous mass above a desolate sunburst becomes a capricious bird. The pock beside it secretes a ghoul. In this work, the equivocations of LaVigne are impacted. There are dense ridges, as though the collage were meant to hold its own against time; there are capricious flakings, as though it didn't give a damn. In the alchemy of the work, they are not incompatible. The art does "feed the passions of the moment", but it is neither mere happenstance nor automatism. Its improvisation is conceived, its conceit improvised. I am not sure it is finished, but it thinks it is, and wants to be.

Collage and Paint on Canvas 99” x 144”
Collection of the Artist (Disassembled)
San Francisco, California
Collage & Paint on Canvas 132” x 69”
Collection of the Artist
San Francisco, California

So does "Banner," perhaps the most willfully crude and most willfully resolved of his constructions. The celestial orb at the top of the plank is prefigured in the augur eye of the horned apparition and may be also in the tilted slat on which the piece rests, which points by extension to a circumference. But the circle is, I think, mere wish fulfillment. And the rest of the work is hardly at peace with itself; it doesn't know what it wants to be, and one is impressed only by the struggle, the palpability of unabsorbed passion, the fury of the figures, and the abandoned painting below them, waiting to get up to the surface. If you follow up the tracings of collage at the bottom you come upon a liverish path that, confounded by a tuck of canvas, leads you behind it; you reenter the canvas at the nexus of unresolved conflict. Symbol of unity, perhaps, the orb is facile, and the painting is a lapse in perseverance. I happen to be excited by it anyway, and (though it is probably irrelevant) would like to have a series of such banners on stage for a production of Shakespeare's scrofulous dark comedy, Troilus and Cressida.

"Banner" is the sort of work, however, about which a critic like John Berger might say that the fury "reflects passively, the reality of our own Mau Mau superstitions, rituals, and crimes-a reality against which the African Mau Mau was only a countermeasure." I'm not sure that "only" is so, given the ritual ferocity of retaliation, but Berger-not only because he is a Marxist-would see in a piece like LaVigne's a failure of courage. He is tired of muck, rip, and ravage; and he makes no bones about it being "healthier to be sentimental about babies than about skeletons." He also raises the objection that such work is not meant to endure. Which is a truth that, quartered, has at least two possible sides: one, the feeling that you don't make it to last because we may not last; and two, that you can afford to throw it away because, as the hobo says in Godot: "We're inexhaustible"--profligacy out of confidence by despair. Yet Berger is certainly justified in saying that such work appeals to that destructive egotism which every artist has to face as a temptation within himself; it gives the sacred value of art to his smallest gesture-even to the imprint of his thumb-and to the most petty of his ideas."

There is no doubt that LaVigne, for all his cultivation, is liable to the vanity of the green
thumb. He has a taste for the tribal and hieratic that is the natural outgrowth of alienation (which, however trite it becomes, persists for good reason). Displaced from Four Lakes, he is sentimental about rain forests. He watches with relish the grass growing between the cracks in concrete, an approving witness of nature's imminent revenge. His Utopia would be an adobe hut in a jungle by the Douanier Rousseau, he in a lion skin, a crumbled museum and the city jail in the vines. But Utopias are imaginary and evasive, and LaVigne knows he must earn his thumbprint. His ideas are not petty. However recessive he may be, he may bring more and more secretions to the surface, for he is also gregarious. It may not be social responsibility that accounts for it, but he has the need for collective expression.

That is why, I suppose, he is in the theater. An "adept," dallying in the "nuptial chamber"
of the Self, he has also designed a quite convivial set for The Alchemist. No artist works in the theater without cost, and LaVigne may often prefer to be back practicing the Hermetic craft, with only junk, paint, and one's unconscious to contend with. When he worked on the bas-relief for King Lear, he would move with demonic satisfaction past the doubled and twisted cycloramas with a jackknife. Then he would climb a ladder and make another gash. It was darkingly splendid in a graphic way, until an actor would walk in front of the composition-and LaVigne would find himself beset, in very unnerving fashion; by the uncontrollable mystery on two legs. He is not one of those designers, however, who lets his distrust of the actors debilitate him; he also admires them and, facing human facts, picks up their rhythms as he works. His walls for Endgame, among the most articulate of his collages, grew out of rehearsals where he virtually performed with the cast. They were not only decor, but a geography for the play-a temporal landscape. Taking the cue from Beckett's essay on Proust, the collage suggested a cultural decantation through time, so that when Clov pushed Hamm on his oriental journey amidst the four gray walls, there was history to look at-the color of epochs coming back to gray, and hardly a real object in sight. We are presently doing something similar with the terrain in our revival of Waiting for Godot, a virtual rag and boneshop of the heart. In Lear, his tribal instincts resulted in an environment, artifacts, and costumes defining the primitive scene by the fusion back in time of multiple ethnic strains: Danaan Celtic, Mycenean, Anglo-Saxon, and American Indian. We looked back past history to the place where cultures meet, annihilating each other in a common style. We invented our costumes as we invented our characters and their historical functions; not, however, by overlooking but seeing through the text.

As a director, working with an artist like LaVigne, you have all the perils of constitutional incertitude and the risks of improvisation; but you get the dividends, as in acting, of personal vision. And craftsmanship to boot. One learns over again that a genuine artist knows how to make things. Every detail, down to the last dyed chicken feather of Lear's garment-and there seemed to be thousands-was stitched and colored by a group of artists working under LaVigne's supervision. Breastplates were shaped of leather, button, and bean; helmets had the feel of found objects, but they were sculpted with plaster, fur, and bone. Let a designer with a feeling for ritual loose on an actor and you are likely to have an automaton. In Endgame, even the faces were collaged, like the garbage cans, but the result-like the play itself-was unbearably human. Texture, profoundly felt, elicits possibilities from the actor.

Bringing collage into the theater, LaVigne can do with paint, junk, and patchwork what many designers cannot do with machinery; that is, create space and fluency. He approaches the stage like the interior of a piece of sculpture; craft pushes out. At some unpredictable dimension, there is an impossible mass to be moved. Bringing the theater back to his art, his work acquires a scope and objective thrust that brings him from the more arcane and ravenous cul-de-sacs of a subterranean nature. It may be a Black Art, courting demons, but it is also a performance, a furnishing forth-private as art will be, sometimes baleful and destructive, but a service too. For it is this ancient idea of theater-bestowing talent devoutly on the evanescent-to which LaVigne responds, a form which is both a happening and a ceremony.

Unpublished essay for an Exhibition called BLACK ART, September, 1961, San Francisco.