The American Art Tapes tells the story of 1960s pop art through the voices of its creators.
In 1965, British artist and university lecturer John Jones left the United Kingdom with his wife and daughters to live in the United States for a year and interview some 100 artists. The family moved to Greenwich Village and spent three months on a road trip west to visit artists beyond the immediate reach of New York. Some of the artists, like Yoko Ono and Claes Oldenburg, became Jones’s personal friends. Published here for the first time, The American Art Tapes presents a fascinating selection of Jones’s edited conversations with American artists practicing in 1965–66. Although Jones’s daughter Nicolette was young, her memories of New York and their trans-American adventure are vivid. A foreword by Nicolette contextualizes the setting in which these interviews took place, and a further introduction amalgamated from Jones’s lectures in which he drew on these conversations illustrates and explores the range of contrasting ideas behind what became known as pop art.
Thanks to his personal interaction with the artists and his knowledge of their work, Jones became the foremost expert in the art of this period in the United Kingdom. Amid a unique family story, this is art presented not through the filter of art critics, but from the mouths of the practitioners. Jones’s interviews explore a specific place and time: the United States in the 1960s. They are crucial reading for those wishing to understand the decade and the influence of American art and British tradition on each other, as well as anyone curious about the famous figures of the time and the thinking that gave rise to this extraordinarily fertile creative moment.