LETTERS OF CHARLES DEMUTH
AMERICAN ARTIST, 1883-1935

Edited by BRUCE KELLNER

TEMPLE UNIVERSITY PRESS

Copyright © 2000 The Demuth Foundation. All rights reserved.
ISBN: 1-56639-780-4



Excerpt


TO MRS. C. L. EHLEN14 February 1896


If of me you sometimes think Send me back my bow of pink. If to me your heart is true Send me back my bow of blue. If you are another girls fellow Send me back my bow of yellow. If to me your heart is dead Send me back my bow of red.

[unsigned]


TO WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS
17 September 1907


Carlos, Carlos, how good your letter did sound. I want to answer itbefore I sail & know if I let it go much longer it will be impossible.

    In about two weeks I'll be starting from home for Philadelphia:from there I sail on the 4th of October.

    But getting back to your affairs, you [have] no idea how yourletter affected me. I have always felt that it would happen to yousome day—that you would simply have to write. However hearingthat it would happen this minute was grand news. There's ayoung chap in New York now, his name is George Frederick—hehas written some very good things, poems. He had them publishedin the spring—the collection is called "Nineva." I wish youwould read some of them if you can get ahold of the book. I havenever met him but have several very good friends whom are alsofriends of his. You may not like his stuff, I can't tell, not havingtalked art to you for so long a time.

    I will not be able to see you before I go—yes, it is too bad. StillCarlos when I come back—when I come back—well, we mayboth have a start in a small way then. I will be over a year at least,perhaps longer. You see, I have just a certain amount of moneyto spend while abroad & when that is gone I must come back. IfI can make it last over the year, of course I'll stay. So I may see[Edd?]—who can tell?

    And Carlos even though nothing happens after your six monthswork in Boston don't give up, will you? It's worth all the money& tears, after all. To feel the joys of creating for a single momentseems to repay one for a year's work. Of course, I know, so doyou, that at times it's hell. When you feel like giving it all up &then you think, but what would become of me if I really was madeto give it up for ever. Heaven be praised neither one of us willmeet such a fate—I hope.

    Ever since I started to write this letter parts of what will followkeep popping into my head:


"High, Higher than seventh heaven above,
Low, Lower than deepest hell beneath,
We rise and fall—you & I.
In ecstasy more full,
In sorrow more intense,
Than all these fools could ever guess,
We rise and fall—you & I.
Back and forth—
Forth to the Idea,
Back—to where?
No place or mark is there!
All this for beauty
Veiled, eternal, sure,
The essence of the morning's mist,
Of feeding flocks R lovers' close embrace."


I can't remember whose this is—perhaps they're mine—one doesfight at times especially when you expect to see the sights of Pariswithin the month.

    Good-bye, good-bye with the very best wishes.

Demuth


TO ALFRED STIEGLITZ
19 April 1916


My dear Stieglitz:—

    The photographs came to-day. They are fine, aren't they?

   Hartley will tell you how anxious, after seeing his, one timeabroad, I always was for you sometime to do me. And now it's done!

    Thank you very much for them and may I too thank you, here,for the something which I found so often this winter at 291 andwhich you make so possible.

    Best regards for Mrs. Stieglitz.

As ever,
Demuth


TO JOHN REED
[circa autumn 1916]


Jack:—

    The [Provincetown Players] meeting I am told is to be at yourrooms to-night.

    You might tell said meeting that I will be in my province untilNovember 10th or 15th. After all there is no place like one's ownhome for a slow season; the only possible place for a complete "getaway" from the "drama" (in America) and artists of all kind! Youneed not mention this last outburst to the gathered elders.

    How are you? I hope o.k. Best for Louise.

As ever,
Demuth


Am inclosing check for four—I think that was the amount, andprobably the theater is in need of all it can get.

Demo


TO ALFRED STIEGLITZ
31 December 1916


My dear Stieglitz:—

    Wishing you an interesting & happy New Year.

Demuth

I see by the "Sun" that the water-colors are on exhibition. Theyare really fine to me.


TO HENRY MCBRIDE
[circa early April 1917]

Brevoort House, Fifth Avenue at 8th Street
New York City

My dear McBride:—

    A piece of sculpture, called "A Fountain," was entered, by oneof our friends, for the Independent Exhibition now open at theGrand Central Palace.

    It was not exhibited.

    "The Independents," we are now told, have a committee,—orjury, who can decide, "for the good of the exhibition."

    We think that a show called "The Super Independents"—orSalon des Refusés—is the next move.

    If you think you could do anything with this material for yourSunday article we would appreciate it very much.


Yours sincerely,
C. Demuth


P.S. If you wish any more information please 'phone Marcel
Duchamp, 4225 Columbus, or Richard Mutt, 9255 Schuyler.


C.D.


TO HENRY MCBRIDE
[circa 25 November 1917]

Brevoort House, Fifth Avenue at 8th Street
New York City

My dear McBride:—

   I wish to thank you for Sunday's.

   In New York so few get it.

   Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Charles Demuth


TO HENRY MCBRIDE
27 November 1917

Brevoort House, Fifth Avenue at 8th Street
New York City

My dear McBride:—

    Miss Stein will laugh if it ever does reach Nimes.

    I wish that you would look my drawings over again, and, ifyou find one, I would like you to take it for your walls, or, for thespace you prefer for your pictures.

    With my kindest wishes, I remain


Yours sincerely,
C. Demuth


TO HENRY MCBRIDE
9 March 1919


Dear Mr. McBride:—

    It was nice to see it traced back to Miss Stein, in the T. N. T.thing in to-day's Sun. In the rush of followers it seems to be quitethe thing to forget or discredit the "great" (please, think of the littledots [i.e., quotation marks] as being used after the manner ofHenry James—more or less, entre nous), Gertrude. The ideaabout Miss Stein and Miss Garden which you had, around Xmas,was amazing!

    With best regards—


Sincerely,
Demuth

P.S. Ask Daniel to show you the Bouché canvasses.


TO AGNES BOULTON AND EUGENE O'NEILL
[circa 1919]


Dear Agie & Eugene:—

    You see, dearies, I'm back in the province in the garden of myown chateau,— where I'll be for the remaining days of the season.The quiet and yellow velvet old age which I always predictedfor myself has started: oh, yes my health is much more advancedthan any of my contemporaries! I hope, dear Agie, you are stillthin. You are about the only one I could at the moment appearwith,— and if we do ever appear the "'90's" will have nothingon us for "delicate mad hands" or having "only having pursuedour passing vanities."


Love,
Demuth

Send the other one to Eddy, will you, old dear. C. D.


TO AGNES BOULTON, SHANE, AND EUGENE O'NEILL
[circa late December 1919]


My dear Shane, Agie, Gene:—

    I'll put the baby tint, I'm sure it is now that way in the house.Too, the times show that it is nicer (although that is hardly theword, nicer), to let the youngest generation "in" than it is to getnervous about them knocking at the door; so, happy new year toShane first.

    My Christmas was quiet in the province as no doubt yours wasin Provincetown. That house you have must be fine for winter.Have been thinking of the end of the Cape of late; thinking itwould be, perhaps, a help to see it at this season.

    It appears that the easiest thing to do, and, I'm afraid this is thething I do, is to stay on here for a month or six weeks and finishup my present work. I'll try to have February in New York, forwhat reason I'm sure I don't know, these days of wood-alcohol!I hope we who love drink, for itself, will some time be togetherin a fair country full of the "Triu-bang."

    What of the plays?

    Have seen Marsden,—but he was there that day, so this is nonews.

    Will see you in town in February, I hope. Perhaps I'll go toEngland. I must have a drink on some street corner of the worldsoon,— or bust.

    Many happy New Years for Poppa & Mamma & to Susan andGig if you see them.


Yours,
Demuth


TO WALTER ARENSBERG
[undated, prior to 1921]


My dear Walter:—

    When in town last week called you several times & oneevening, Spencer & I came to see you. Then I was told you werein Boston.

    I had a photo of a small cupboard, one which hangs on thewall, early American, which I wanted to show to you. There is awoman here who has several very good early American pieces.Can't you motor up & see them? That is better really than seeingphotographs. As by train is only 3 1/2 hours. That is if you want anymore pieces. There is a very good small blue table, pine.

    I will be in town again after Easter, and will bring the photographwhich I had, that is if you don't come up before. I thinkyou really must own this table & cupboard.


Yours sincerely,
Demuth


TO ALFRED STIEGLITZ
2 January 1921


Dear Stieglitz:—

    I did want you really to have that one, and was sorry not to seeyou, but most of the time, well,— I'm not up to doing very muchabout anything.

    Will see you I hope some time soon when things are more orless,— more or less,— god knows what.

    Thanks for the nice note.

    Wishing you a very Happy New Year, and O'Keif the same.


As always,
Demuth


TO SCOFIELD THAYER
postmark 28 February 1921


My dear Thayer:—

    When in London look up Lovat Frazer & Charles Winger.Frazer will not remember me,— I went to see him in Chelsea,with John Cournos. Charlie Winger, however, will.

    You might be able to use some of their drawings.

Yours sincerely,
C. Demuth


TO SCOFIELD THAYER
3 June 1921


Dear Thayer:—

    Leo's reported behaviour allows, it would seem, the honourof the province: to rest, as to the great world, on my head.

    If you feel sure that money and a canvas of mine can "talk" (Imyself have found them unrelated), at the same pitch,— wellthen, dear Mr. Thayer, I don't see the way out, and accept yourwas it "outrageous proposal."

    Please make an offer in ready money and write me after lookingat the things, remaining from last winter's show, at Daniel's,whichever you would like me to offer on my side. I think that Ihave no sporting instinct; I feel only, now, in this seeming"almost" crisis that I must support my idea of beauty in the field.It is so much more important for me that it be there, in the field,than on canvas or whatever.

    You see you really "got" me. I can't resist doing a canvas onGeorges's remembered profile.

    Make them show you just what you want to see at Daniel's.You can tell them that your interest is toward the "Dial." Otherwise,knowing the truth, they might wish to protect me. Don'tplease ask the prices fixed upon them. Now that I'm in, I'll go thehandsome with you!


Yours sincerely,
C. Demuth


P.S. However, you had better make, at least, two selections. I maybe in town before the 2nd which will simplify this sure to befamous bet. Couldn't we have Lloyd's post it?—they mightthrough the McOberon influence.

C.D.


TO SCOFIELD THAYER
12 June 1921


Dear Thayer:—

    Enforced residence in the old home town has made me a bitweak minded perhaps, perhaps careless; more careless, for I believeI am thought to be so by some of my "best" friends, you may haveheard as much.

    There are two reasons—other than the probable above mentioned—whyI accept which I do, you see, gladly, your offer.First you seem to protest a bit over much about my wish in thismatter, and, secondly, I hope this act of mine will be the first stepin an, anyway, intended row with Mr. Daniel. I wish to get aholdof all my things before I go abroad which will be, with luck, onthe 3rd of August.

    Are you on your side quite satisfied? I am quite, Mr. Thayer.

    I will write Mr. Daniel telling him to hold the one which youhave decided upon. I think it is the one used in the "Times." Youmight go into Daniel and tell him the one, exactly. Tell Hartpence!

    I will see you before you sail, I hope. If not you, certainly yourremarks about Lloyd's.


Yours,
Demuth

I will send you the photographs of the drawings—I think that I

have some here; I know Daniel had some. Poor Daniel, art hasmade him mad. He thought it had a use and tried to find it,— butit ain't. Don't tell them at 2 W. 47th St. that I am going toEngland. C.D.

Can't we have these two in the August "Dial"? Anyway one—


TO SCOFIELD THAYER
postmark 24 June 1921


Dear Thayer:—

    About Germany, now that our other matter is arranged!—no,I shall not be going into that, I think, rather nice country. As yousee, going into it in Aug. I wish if you go to Berlin you wouldlook up one of my very best friends. He is the one that knowsStefan George, and, I'm sure, many of the other people andthings going on in Germany. If you wish I will give you a letter.His address and name are: Arnold Rönnebeck, 3 OffenbacherStr., (Friedsan) Berlin.

    I may be in New York next week. I will not see the fight. Icouldn't get a seat, a good one when in New York, but now I seethat some are to be had. I may see it, but it is not likely. You mayslap your neighbor at the fight, Mr. Thayer, when Georges wins.

    Did I tell you, Robert Locher is doing a whole production ofthe new "Greenwich Village Follies." He hopes to come abroadin September and we are planning to be in delicate conditions, forthe autumn, somewhere near Nice.


Yours,
Demuth


TO SCOFIELD THAYER
postmark 3 July 1921


Dear Thayer:—

    Thanks for the wire. I'm sorry Georges lost, but glad you and"The Dial," in your absence, are to have one of my pictures. Ilike to think of them being in pleasant places, poor things.

    I liked my place between [Benedetto] Croce and [André] Derain;"My place would be between Gilles de Rotz and the Marquis deSade," wrote [Oscar] Wilde,— too, it is nice being there withMarin to the excluding of all the rest of the painters American.

    Give my best wishes to Ezra when you see him,— tell himthat I will see him soon, I hope.

    My address in London will be "Brown's Hotel," 6 York St.,St. James.

    Have a good time,— good luck. I shall try again too, at MonteCarlo!


Yours, Demuth


TO AUGUSTA DEMUTH
postmark 12 August 1921

S.S. Paquebot
Southampton, England

Dear Mother:—

    This is Tuesday evening.

    We had a very quiet trip.

    Miss Sand whom I knew in Etretat the summer that I wasthere is on the ship, also Mr. Mercer, Mrs. Eshelman's brother.

    We will land on Friday. The boat made a very slow run.

    I've felt pretty well, the last few days not so well. The food onthe ship is getting low. No doubt, I'll be all right when I land.

    Bob [Locher] sent me a book. I don't know how it got aboard.Did Beatrice [Locher] meet you? I didn't see her when the boatsailed.

    It stayed quite warm all the way over,— not hot though like ithad been. To-night it is quite cool. It's too bad you didn't comealong. I think that my biscuits will hold out.

    I'll write you from London after a day or so. Some one aboardtold me of a hotel like the one I stayed at in London before thewar. It will be all right, no doubt. It is quite near to the other one.

    We've had several dances. And will have one to-night. Therewere not many people on the ship when it finally sailed, it wasabout half full.

    I hope everything went all right with you. I will write youevery week. I suppose things will go all right.


with love,
Charlie


TO SCOFIELD THAYER
postmark 23 August 1921

Hotel Rembrandt
London, England

Dear Thayer:—

    As I said in the wire, Martin was very coy. I didn't really seehim, but talked and talked over the phone. My word, it was liketwenty tea-parties. He said that they had—the drawing[s]—goneto America. I think that they were really in his trunk. Youknow how one "gets" these things from the voice, or silences,or whatever. I did all I could,— not much perhaps, but all Icould.

    He ask[ed] me to send you the [Aubrey] Beardsley book,which I got from John Lane. Martin is sailing to-morrow,Wednesday. I think you will find all the ones on his list, exceptthe "Mlle. de Maupin" one which was only in the first edition, atabout forty dollars.

    [Demuth's tea spilled on the page at this point so he began a new page,then added his postscripts to the foot of the first page.] I'll try again, asmy tea misbehaved.

    The Mlle. de M[aupin] looks very nice in the book. She I wouldhave seen there. I'm sure that I would have liked the [crucial?] onesthe best,— the elephant one first. You must have this one, it can'tbelong to anyone but you in the land-of-the-free. Do get it.

    Martin said that he also had bought some [William] Blakes.They have now at the "Tate" some of great beauty and spirit.

    How is Germany? I don't think the man I wanted you to seeis in Berlin; Epstein told me that only a few days ago he had acard from him from Rome. You may find him returned, however.

    I find London quiet, everyone away. Will go to Paris the endof the week or early part of next. My address is Guaranty TrustCo.—London or Paris—how you knew it I don't know. Thanksfor the photo of Georges. I received it before I sailed.

    If you write,— write to London. I hope you are amused. Youowe me 27 shillings, Sir.


Yours,
Demuth


P.S. The tea has dried! If you want the copy of the first edition—"LaterWorks"—wire me and I'll send it on. It is the last one (?)Mr. Lane has, and was as I said about forty—40.00. Both the clerkat Lane's and Mr. [Bean?] seemed to be beyond my control.


P.S. I think the name of my hotel might, if you thought on it, bematter for a last page of some future "Dial."


Demuth


TO ALFRED STIEGLITZ
31 August 1921

Hotel Rembrandt
London, England

Dear Stieglitz:—

    You will, no doubt, be surprised to get this from me from thisplace. It was good to hear from you.

    I wanted to do something to stop the "Wheels" going aroundbackwards,— so, chanced this. I wanted so to feel it once more,—sohere I am, and will go to Paris next week.

    I wish that you were here to look at an exhibition of Blakes,now on at the "Tate," with me. They have been loaned. Someare large pictures on, I think, plaster. They hang next [to] the greatTurners—it is wonderful. Marin could be there,— how simple itseems. The National Gallery has been re-arranged by some rarehands,— and one wonderful [El] Greco added.

    I wonder if it will ever happen in the land of the free?—or isit happening? I never knew Europe was so wonderful, and neverknew really—not so surely—that New York, if not the country,has something not found here. It makes me feel almost like runningback and doing something about it,— but what does thatcome to? So few understand love and work; I think if a few dowe may not have lived entirely without point.

    You feel the war and what is now going on to an amazingextent. It is all so expressed, so much freer than at home.

    Have seen Epstein. His work is really not "there." The sculptorsin New York—although I don't get so much—are better. Hehas become rather grand.

    I hope someone opens a gallery in New York. I feel that Danielis a crook,— a nice fellow, but a crook. I can't cope with it anylonger. He had a good chance too. Again the American idea. Ihave taken most of my things away,— all the good ones. I supposeit was silly but I couldn't come away leaving him to care forthem. Poor Stieglitz, some more outside trouble being againpoured over you.

    I hope your work is going. How grand they looked last winter.

    It is more difficult in America to work,— perhaps that will adda quality. My god, where are they? And how little fun they arehaving.

    The enclosed is the new E1 Greco.

    Best regards to G'Kief.

    I wish you were here.


Love,
Demuth


TO GERTRUDE STEIN
[circa early September 1921]

Hotel Lutetia, 44 Boulevard Raspail
Paris, France

My dear Miss Stein:—

    Could Marsden [Hartley] and I come to see you Saturdayevening?

   Will you write me to this hotel. I will be here until Mon. or Tues.


Yours sincerely,
Charles Demuth


TO GERTRUDE STEIN
postmark 6 September I921

Paris, France


Will you be home tomorrow evening,— Wed? Marcel [Duchamp]and I would like to come to see you, if it is all right don't answer,and we will come.

Yours,
Demuth

(Continues...)