Presented by Henry Schvey
“The work of a fine painter, committed only to vision, abstract and allusive as he pleases, is better able to create for you his moments of intensely perceptive being.
Jackson Pollock could paint ecstasy as it could not be written. Van Gogh could capture for you moments of beauty, indescribable as descent into madness.
Tennessee Williams, Memoirs (1975)
Widely recognized as America’s greatest playwright, a vast amount of scholarship has been devoted both to Tennessee Williams’s flamboyant and controversial lifestyle, and to his extraordinary plays. However, very little is known about the paintings to which he dedicated so much time and energy during the decade of his life, many of which are beautifully represented in the David Wolkowsky Collection at the Key West Art and Historical Society.
About the Presenter:
Henry I. Schvey, Professor of Drama and Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis—the same institution where Williams was enrolled as a student during 1936-37—will examine how Williams’s lifelong preoccupation with painting provides a crucial key to understanding his plays. Beginning with the breakthrough success, The Glass Menagerie (1944), Williams developed a style he termed “Plastic Theatre,” concluding that his theatrical work should be seen almost as a kind of visual art, in which “The printed script of a play is hardly more than an architect’s blueprint of a house not yet built…its message lies in those abstract beauties of form and color and line.”
This program is sponsored by the Helmerich Trust.