December 18, 2012

The Youngest Youngerman


While flipping through an amazing new book on the life and work of the artist Agnes Martin the other night, I realized there is a kid in this random rooftop photograph [by Hans Namuth, but still].

In the mid-1950s Martin was part of a close-knit group of painters living in abandoned 19th century sailmaking factory lofts in downtown Manhattan, near South Street Seaport. There was no heat or hot water, and Martin talks about having to go across the street to some sailor's hall or something to take a shower.

Among her friends and neighbors in this AbEx/Beat/Proto-Pop adventure: artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, the painters Ellsworth Kelly and Jack Youngerman, and Robert Indiana. The last three, along with Martin [on the right] and Youngerman's wife, Delphine Seyrig [left], are all identified in the picture, which was taken on the roof of their shared building, 1-3 Coenties Slip. The kid, though, who knew?

So I poked around a bit, and whaddya know, Youngerman has a slightly cropped version of the same photo on his website. The kid is his and Seyrig's son, Duncan Youngerman.

Like Kelly, Youngerman had gone to Paris to study on the GI Bill. There he met and married Seyrig; Duncan was born in 1956, and they all moved back to NYC in 1958. So the kid would've been around 2yo. Youngerman's paintings soon began to get noticed. Seyrig, for her part, was an actress and later a director of some renown. She was in Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie's Beat classic, Pull My Daisy, made right then and there in 1958. But her breakout role was in 1961, when she starred in Alain Resnais' & Alain Robbe-Grillet's Last Year in Marienbad.

Eventually, Seyrig and Youngerman divorced; Duncan is now an experimental musician and composer in France who used to play electronic guitar with Rhys Chatham.

Which--considering his artist parents raised him in an avant-garde squat that became the center of the art world--of course he is.

Pricey but beautiful: Buy Agnes Martin: Paintings, Writings, Remembrances by Arne Glimcher, for like $97 at Amazon [amazon]
Jack Youngerman | Chronology [jackyoungerman]
Delphine Seyrig [wikipedia]
Duncan Youngerman clips and bio [c-royan]

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