Respondent: I thought I'd make this a rather informal today, and I picked out a group of slides that show work of mine from about 1952 through '69; and I think monologues by an artist on the artist's work can be some (inaudible 0:00:30) if it is that's just isolated in slide, and then a question period. And I thought rather than deliver it in paragraphs but to spin it out from the slides and thoughts and facts I have that then questions about what's happening to painting, where did the New York school come from, what about the second generation New York School? Where is easel painting? Is it easel painting? What is painting in relation to decoration sculpture? What things are about right now both in the aesthetic and the social worlds? And that - the most hopeful or successful way to go about I think is after I show a slide and say a few words, if somebody wants to ask a question or add something please feel free to just raise your hand or if I can't see you stand up or say hey or something, and if it's a long involved thing I'll maybe take it up again later but - I think it makes it all more interesting all the way around if we conducted a sort of my meeting a conversation, so why don't we start. (Informal Talk) Alright, you can cut the light out I guess, yes, or can you all see it, yeah it's better now. This is a picture call Ed Winston's Tropical Gardens and it was painted in '51-'52 and it's on paper, and I did it when I had a studio on 10th Street that I had sublet for a year from the sculptor David (inaudible 0:02:53) and he had done a lot of photography and left behind an enormous roll of paper, which I filled and started working on it and just kept going until I was finished, which happened to be 18 feet. And its - it was mounted on plywood and there is a split in the middle so that each section is about 4 feet by 9 I guess; and the title I'm saying this because sooner or later everybody says why is it called Ed Winston's Tropical Garden? In the early '50s on 8th Street there used to be a - well, restaurant is too nice a word, a (inaudible 0:03:49) a duplex joint that a lot of young painters and some older painters all used to go there and they had a I guess a champagne night or something, and it was pitch dark and there was celluloid palm trees and it was about as tropical as the (five and ten 0:04:11), you know and I did that one morning after, and it was full of the tropics and it was on paper and I had to give it a title and the combination of both inspiration and also having nothing to do with it - I mean I feel it works or it doesn't work or comes off or doesn't as a picture whether you see or feel tropics or Ed Winston's or whatever - I mean the title becomes nostalgic or sentiment or whatever but that's why it is called that and I used to go to that place just as a side note with Al Leslie, Harry Jackson, Larry Rivers, Grace Hartigan, Clement Greenberg, Bill and Elaine de Kooning, the Pollack's and in those days which is almost 20 years ago that was sort of the small underground handful that was on 10th Street and in New York, and there were just a few galleries one of which was devoted to showing the work of young second generation New York School painters called (inaudible 0:05:36) and this was part of those days. Most of these thoughts are pretty (inaudible 0:05:47) but you know better than nothing. This is a painting called Mountains and Sea, and I did it in 1952 soon after the one you just saw, and this is the first really large "serious" picture that I did on the floor on un-sized, unprimed cotton duck rather than sized, primed cotton or linen canvas, and the medium well there is some charcoal lines in it but generally it was two pigment and enamel out of cans and turpentine mixed in coffee cans and poured, and I worked directly on the floor for this. And at that time I had met and been to visit Jackson Pollack, and while we didn't use the same tool or have the same (inaudible 0:07:03) I guess I did learn a lot from him and the idea of working on the floor and directly on the canvas without a resistance in the medium with something I'd learnt from him. Also, being able to walk into a canvas. But what I felt which I haven't really realized till this minute thinking back on it is that I wanted to do a great big picture that I could treat with the lightness and the ease of a piece of paper, in other words put it on the floor and not feel this a weighty, serious (inaudible 0:07:50) that must be preserved to (inaudible 0:07:55) labored, put on the wall, framed, taken seriously and for me that gives me great risk and emotional freedom so that if you can do something with your brain operating and still do it from the top of the head, and know everything you can possibly know at that moment and at the same time dismiss it, and with luck have the right mood and materials at that moment of the day, you can make something that surprises you and that surprised me. I repeat if you do want to speak just, yeah (Informal Talk) The question was isn't this - the picture the picture, I'd say yes but Kenneth Noland and Morris Lewis saw when they first came to New York from Washington in '53. (Informal Talk) Respondent: Well, that's a big question and a very good one, yes I was aware of using color, shapes in a way that they would function as lines, in other words aside from the few obvious line type lines made with charcoal, which after this picture and maybe a few others disappeared completely, I mean they are just a token whisper left of what I was already about and didn't need them as such. But something like that big grey streak that's a diagonal on the right or the blue next to it which is a shape but also act as a line, and many other spots in the picture that are "lines and shapes and colors" all operating together. I was very much aware of and wanted to do that and feel that while I wasn't thinking of it consciously, inch for inch, thought for thought as I was doing it but this was something I'd given thought to but mostly out of what I had come from not necessarily having seen Jackson Pollack, which had been a relatively immediate experience for me. But the fact that in college studying with Paul Feeley, I had really looked at almost with an attitude of science, cubism and what a picture plane is and what ambiguity and depth is, and what later on Hoffman might have called push and pull is, and what depth perspective planes etc. are all about and also what light in a picture means. In other words how a dark picture that is a beautiful picture can have much more light in it and feeling than a light picture that goes dead. To get back - so I would say, for me it came not so much out of Pollack, which it did I mean the, the methods and materials were born out of that though Pollack is straight enamel and he used a stick to paint which I never did, and brought another attitude to it but I did take a lot of hints and clues, and I did from him. But more than that I'd say cubism and also I'd come as much from cubism as from a certain period of Kandinsky and I had also looked hard and long at Gorky and de Kooning, and in the early 50s there was a moment when a young painter in her 30s, her 20s could look at either de Kooning or Pollack and learn a great deal. When Morris and (Ken 0:13:13) came to New York they came because a mutual friend Clement Greenberg had encouraged them to come and most things as everybody knows was developing in New York, and they were living in Washington and very much in touch and eager, and would come up periodically, I don't know if they did before this or after to go to galleries, we all used to see you know all the shows, you could see everything on a Saturday afternoon because there wasn't that much in the way of galleries or we'd go to studios or sit and talk and argue, or agree, and one of those earlier visits they came to look at this picture and were struck by it I think because the idea of not being bound by the old methods and material opened up their particular kind of ideas of freedom, and I think, I think everybody who has breakthrough has real links of development that can be (inaudible 0:14:56) at pivotal points. I did this all probably few months later I think you'll see in some of these slides that well there is a recognizable thread of what is my wrist or "signature" in everything but very often I can seem to be about three different frequencies at once, in other words I can do paintings that are painted all over or pictures that have un-sized canvas showing or pictures that dwell on what corners or frames are about or some that don't seem to concerned without at all, or sometimes I seem to be going back to an idea that hit me that I dropped two or 10 years previously, so that after that Aerie wash this might seem sort of heavy and crowded or overlabored or something, actually it isn't its part of a same syndrome. Its called open wall and its also on un-sized, unprimed duck and there are a lots of things in it, I looked at it, it was in that sure I had (inaudible 0:16:37) needed toured in New York, and there are a lot of things in it but I didn't get fact to investigating until mid or late 60s, and I'm much more apt to shoot all or some of an idea in one shot and let it rest than dwell on it and do say 500 pictures of various sizes in that format, which is not a judgment on my projects just a star but (inaudible 0:17:30). This is '55, 1955 and it's called Trojan Gates and I think I'm not sure it's quite heavily painted. Also reminder of say sizes when they are very big or very small, this is about five by not more but I'd say 5 x 8, not a huge picture and it might be on primed canvass that is from time to time over the past two decades I'll go back to or investigate a technique or medium just to change the tempo of what I'm doing and I haven't recently but every few years I'd either work on already made small-sized canvas boards or buy a roll of sized prime canvass and see what would happen in working on it and even though after that spell I'd always revert to my thing of un-sized, unprimed duck it always gave me some shift that was productive even if the pictures I made themselves were not what I wanted. This is Giralda and it's about roughly 10 x 10. I painted it after I'd come back from Spain and somehow what crept into it was that onion-shaped tower on me, upper mid-right therefore Giralda, Giralda Tower thing, get the picture. And the white part in the center is not on un-sized canvas but a lot of it is quite heavily painted almost cuisined pallet knife, buttery strokes of paint which is something I usually don't do. This is a terrible slide really shouldn't even (inaudible 0:20:23). In fact it's, it's a working slide it shouldn't be in the box because it was cleaned before it went to Europe and taken off the stretcher you can see it's tacked to a brick wall at the restorer, it's a painting called Eden and I painted it in '57, and it's a complicated picture. It really started with that target or circle in the centre in which I was fascinated and I was for with a whole idea and still I'm for that matter of things being the same and not the same, in other words shapes being the same shape or the same blue, and having the same weight but really not a symmetry that by nuance is not a symmetry at all and how that can work in space and light, and on a flat picture plane with four sides and four corner. So this picture started as a sort off egg shaped circle target centre and then these straight lines with a two circles next to it which anybody with association might think of as a 100. And then I thought well a 100 a 100 so I put it on the other side, the same but not the same. And then the painting evolved into a very sort of antenna moving and I mean not in an action painting moving way but I also don't mean moving in terms of feeling almost a cartoony way with flickers and - but everyone as necessary in its placement and choice of color. In other words I didn't want one extra stroke in the picture and very often the magic moment is to know when to quit and not (inaudible 0:22:54) the eye and add that extra thing that is going to spell it out for everybody who doesn't understand it, the thing is to grab your wrist and then just stop. Anyway, the picture sort of lost the target idea and got very gardeny and free and then somehow it seemed done, the two blues loomed very large the one sort of mid centre right and right and right edge, and three really the left which is another major blue shape in it that operates totally differently as one its dripper and very different than the other blues in it. And it needed a red to stop it somehow and the red next to that sort of (inaudible 0:23:57) wiggly section below and to the right of it got poured down as a sort of palm, which I was aware of but not so the left side of my brain and then the stick coming out of it which certainly I can draw a wrist or arm better than that but there it was and then it needed more than just that blot and those sort of digits came up and out of it because I wanted it to stretch to the outer edge of the top. And that was all it's finished and I left, and then I had to name it and it sort and I have mixed feelings about this because I think it's a little corny and I question the whole idea but it struck and it means something because whatever you do, you do some place for a reason. It became that Stopping Hand and Garden of Eden blah, blah and I called it Eden. This is a picture called, well first of all it's about 10 or 11 feet high and its about four or a maybe a little more across, its called Les Miles and I did it in '58 and took the drawing of it from a postcard I had of the (inaudible 0:25:53) of the two women seated on a balcony with a chaperone or somebody behind. See there's a chaperone or villain shows you what I think of a chaperone. The drawing of it really got to me and this was not a careful obviously abstraction of it but I did it all and then it didn't work very well and as I often do I test the picture out and sort of let it cook for a while. I looked at it from all sides vertically, horizontally and then it worked in the end much better upside down, so I turned it upside down and in fact if it is easy, could you show it what upside down, thanks. And then I worked on it a little more but I still think it works better the way I decided but you can see more of a (inaudible 0:26:58) in it when it's that other way. Thank you, wherever you are. This is a picture called Acres, which I don't like too much its quite large and what wrecked it for me which - I destroy a lot of picture, what wrecked it for me is that I had a very good thing going and then for some reason I came back which I think is artist's temptation you want to tie it up and make it real because something in it puzzles you and is new to you and when you're transcending the self you know then you allow for what puzzles you and something very magical and hopefully beautiful can come out. At other times you are the old fashioned you so you have to go back to where you left yourself in effect and therefore I overworked that whole upper left blue and the more I overworked it the bigger it got and the more I tried to save it and I don't know, now I might love I haven't seen it in years but doesn't look so great. But this - the drawing in it is very much like the picture I'm about to show you in feeling which is the picture in this museum call Madridscape, if you get what I mean and this is, I forgot the size but it's one of the biggest picture I've ever done and I made it in one of the smallest studios I've ever had which is often the case, it was my way of breaking out and I had one of those brown stone railroad flat - studio is on 3rd Avenue around the corner from where we lived. And I had it till I found something far more adequate. But I've worked there for a whole winter in '58 - '59 and it was about 10 feet across and it had a ceiling just about as high as that picture maybe not that high, I think it trailed on the floor from about where that middle red is at the bottom. But I think very often it's very good to think well I'm not going to let the fact that this place is 10 feet x 8 feet keep me from making a picture that's 20 feet x 16 feet, I guess. This is an installation shot of a show I had at the Jewish museum in 1959 and the painting you've already seen is Les Miles on the left and the one in the centre is again something I've gone back to recently in my last show, which was at the last summer, and that I did in '57, no yes '57 and its called Towards a New Climate. And there I was very involved in doing a painting that was both shape and calligraphy, and in a particular orbit of its own. Again, that ambiguity, it's hard to see it from here and a few minutes ago I used the phrase tying up or packaging a picture about three weeks after I had done it, I put in if you can see it from it from here there is a just a little edge at the upper right and lower right that's a corner mark like parenthesis, and I always wish I hadn't put those in. it was sort of to nail it down in orbit and I didn't do it to the other two corners top left or lower left. And it was when the Sputnik had just gone up, wasn't that about '57, '56 and I again had to call it something I was - as I'm often am in touch with the Daily News alas and called Towards a New Climate. The picture on the right is called Nude and the one to the right of that Red Square, and that is on un-sized, rather it is on primed and sized canvass, and it's a picture I had some place and retired because it looked very made to me, and I think my best pictures have a look which I say fairly often whether they've been worked on for months or they've layers of paint or the whole surface is covered or not. The immediate look that I respond to for me is having been born at once and that when I get that feeling and I'm now quoting myself because this is something I really do say fairly often and feel and feel very often that if you can plot ever sort of static move and thought of I did this, then I did that and then I did that, that some magic thing goes out of the window and when I looked at that picture I felt it's too sort of not intellectualized but labored or tired of been, anyway that's it. The picture on the upper left I did in that same railroad flat in '58-'59 and that is on raw linen. And you can't see it from here but it's a shaped canvas, the only one I ever did and it shaped only because the linen ran out and I put in that white gesso and then wait a minute, this might be backward, yeah its right - and then thought well I'd cut it off so it's a nice even rectangle called its Seahorse and then it was tacked up there and I went away or something for a week and I came back and I thought no leave it, it looks good. But I'm not on a shaped canvas maker but that was it and it worked. The one in the centre is called Mother Goose Melody and the one on the right is called Seven Types of Ambiguity, its - with the exception of the yellow and the red again basically a one colored painting and in the centre with that sort of horizon line it goes, where it's all an ambiguity of where this color change, where this line begin and leave off in the shape in the not shape, I had one, two, three, four, five six seven and a line through it you can barely see it but I'm not an surrealist or in anyway involved in surrealism or astrology or but I called it Seven Types of Ambiguity after the title of the book, okay. If anybody wants to ask me anything please do. This is called Pink Bird Figure and it's about 8 x 10 and it's I think 1960-61. This is called Seascape with Dunes. There are certain people who feel they can always tell the pictures I have painted and (inaudible 0:36:33) from the once I've painted in zone 28 in New York. And there is something about sea and beach and landscape and freedom and water that I respond to, that creeps in though at time I've made picture that are far more landscapy than this right on 3rd Avenue. This is called Arcadia. These pictures are all painted with oil paints therefore turpentine, therefore often there is that what's come to be called aura or stain or bleed that happens when you pour that particular mixture to - on un-sized duck, but controllable in other words one can allow for or arrange for as much or little of it you want. With acrylics you can still get it if you want it but the nature of the paint and medium itself is more apt to do away with a natural bleeding aura margin or whatever that one would get with oil paint. This is called The Bay, that's acrylic and it was a struggle to learn to use acrylics in a way that kept on acrylics but still could be used in my vocabulary and this was one of the first pictures that I felt I could leave without being mastered by the medium itself that gave me a tough battle that one summer. This picture is called The Mod most of these are - big generally between 6 and 10 feet. I did a whole series of picture once that I reversed in other words they stained through and then I worked on them again from the other side and this is one of them though I didn't just take it as (inaudible 0:39:30) this is the back side a mess I don't want to keep and I'll hang that, if useable I took it from there and made it what I wanted it to be. This is called Buddha's Court and is about 9 x 9, I guess. (Informal Talk) Two answers, one is on the slide there is a marked change because there is - I haven't been that careful about showing the development of it. But yes there is a marked change and just as from time to time I will feel, I relied too heavily or not at all on that say the color black and I'm going to lay off black or I'm going to try black. I can and always have occasionally felt what would happen if I did this or that or I eliminated this or that and I think of a certain moment I felt generally the drip and the sign of the brush and the sign of the shoulder in motion had been exploited completely and also that I was sick of using lines and wanted to do what lines did without using lines per say. And that made things get flatter and flatter because lines do, do something that only lines do. And I also think that just as I had been influenced by many people that I hit a point of having exhausted my student message to myself and investigations, and looked around or in a way to searched around and (osmosised 0:42:28) for my own use and translation a lot of what was happening. This is called Small's Paradise. Another night club, I don't go to many night clubs (inaudible 0:42:48) and I did a whole series which is unlike me of situations in frames or in squares now the play of the shape of the canvas therefore square or rectangle has always I guess because of training in cubism than a fascination consciously and otherwise, and I noticed over and over and over again in sketches in great big thinks that square or corners or breaking through a square or doing three sides of a square or echoing a rectangle four times, happens over and over again; and though I don't do series, I did do many pictures of which that last Buddha's Court was one and this and several others were as close as I've come to bearing down, zeroing into an idea and it's funny because for many people this was a very successful group of pictures to me, it was in '64. And I agree at the same0 time it was the least like my metabolism to me, because I'm a (inaudible 0:44:23) in that way, but I do like this picture. It's not the final version of it but it's much - I think more green on the bottom. I think I carried that outer rim of green very far down on all sides as a real play against the frame it self, did I answer that at all? (Informal Talk) But there was a change and yet there wasn't yet. This was '64 too and this I think sort of marries both something like the bay that picture that I talked about changing and having the initial battle with acrylics over and the last two Small's Paradise and Buddha's Court that this has that watery amorphous thing plus that play on square and frontal thing. It's called Tangerine. This is about 12 feet high and about 4 feet wide and the white at the bottom is painted white, it is not un-sized duck and it's called Wales, this is '66 and it's called Three Color Space. The - what looks like black at the bottom is a very deep emerald green and the left is sort of a plum. Can we go back to that a second, thanks. You'd see sort of line down the middle of the right shape, well I - well I often, usually I paint with the duck on the floor without it being stretched, very often just as I will vary things by having sized or prime duck for a change, I were to sag then I'll stretch a few dozen canvases of various sizes just for that limitation rather than having endless space. And this was a stretched canvass which instead of working on the floor I put on saw horses, so I was pouring it at waist height rather than bending over the floor on something stretched or on stretched, anyway the original version had the red just to middle the of what is now the red shape and if you cover the right side with your hand you can what it looked like without it, it didn't work to me at all, so a couple of days later I mixed up another batch luckily because I usually can't do that of that red and added it and that's why that line is there and in the end the line gave it something which I mean I'm saying that for a reason because another question one is often asked, I'm often asked is what about the role of accident and I feel one can exploit accidents that - happened that you sort of plan on in a way and recognize and use but they aren't just born and there the way the rings of the tree or the grain of marble is but they have to look as if maybe they are but they're not. Yeah. (Informal Talk) No I've never felt that. No. (Informal Talk) I do use them, I always have them around, usually house you know big white paintbrushes and I, I use brushes or rollers with something that can push and direct paint. But what I try not to have is the sign of the brush or the roller, in another words I would rather see the picture than the sort of (inaudible 0:50:02) marks of the brush crawling across the canvas. Again, part of that happening all at once thing. (Informal Talk) Both. (Informal Talk) No. (Informal Talk) I don't have anything against it and I don't want to use it. (Informal Talk) It varies, a picture like this I probably stocked around and thought about it and maybe did three somewhat like it before so I count all that in the making of this and then probably put in one shape or two, and let them dry than put in another maybe the next day because if its wet and you miss a bit everything can bleed in together and I didn't want that here. And then as I described it didn't seem to be quite enough, though it was almost enough, the gesture was right but not complete and so I would say in from the time I first put my hand to this canvas to when I felt now stop, that's it. It was probably all within a week, in actual working time probably took an hour or maybe two and everything I feel that's behind it because its picture I like, it took oh forever, long time, months. In other words I had a whole idea about pictures with four shapes, three shapes, two shapes, recently one shape and everything that can happen within again ambiguity. I did a lot of pictures last summer that were one shape and one color, if you look at them immediately, if I hung it up under that exit sign and said okay in five seconds what is this everybody would say, its picture that has one shape and one color but it doesn't, it does all of kinds of things, I hope. In the same way that I was concerned with a problem about three color space. But at the same time in the middle of painting it I wasn't thinking intellectually oh boy, I'm going to pursue this idea because I think that's killing. I was just painting. (Informal Talk) I have a couple of slide of it in here we'll get to it, this is called Highway, this is called (Golden Axis 0:53:43) which is a variation on that three color space idea, only I stained the entire canvas first so that the shapes and you can't read the colors again one is green and one is very (inaudible 0:53:58) crimson, and what looks almost pinkish on the left is a straight yellow ocher. Yes and that picture hung with the yellow ocher on the bottom for a long time and it looked a little bit too me sort of a vessel in a way that I didn't want it and I felt was supposing it just opened out at the end and without changing I've just changed the side of it and I sold it fairly recently, and to me there is no place to sign it because any additional anything would make it something else. The man who bought it is very upset because you got to sign your picture but I won't. This is the (Worlds Fair 0:54:58) picture, not Worlds Fair, yeah it was a (World Fair expo 0:55:03) and that's me at the end of it and the exhausted men who were going to carry it up. (Informal Talk) Yes, yes. Well it's about 16 x 33 feet and my studio is about 20 you can see by 50 feet that was my former studio, I'm not in it anymore. (Informal Talk) Well I'll tell you about it. It is on gessoed linen. It's not on un-sized duck and it's not - it's primed and gesso instead of glue and lead etc. because I could only get something that size or primed, which I didn't want or gesso which I was happy about because it was sort of a challenge, and I had been working around that three color shape idea and when I had a chance and an offer to do something that sized and I never had I jumped at it but I don't think it's a sensational picture, I didn't see it at expo but I did see the picture hanging - I did see it hanging before it went to expo, they rented an old movie house on Upper Broadway so that it could hang up where the screen used to be only looked at it with one wide on really. And I saw it in Boston when it was there. It looked good but there was something about that particular red and the drawing of it in the image but when I saw it and that was in the gymnasium so I've really never seen it the way it way a picture should hang and never with a wall behind (inaudible 0:57:33) stepped on a pole. I had mixed feeling about picture that size, I don't know. When you say what happened to it, after the fair about six months later I got a phone call from someone I know whose father owns a bank in Upstate New York which will remain nameless and they wanted the picture as the center of mural for the bank which doesn't happen very often and I was delighted and about a week before it was to go there is no moral in this, its just a storey of no enlightenment a - the nice young man called and said, he was sorry but his father had decided to put a fountain there instead. So the picture is now rolled up Santini Brother's warehouse on 49th Street. (Informal Talk) Yes. Usually not, I do, do sketches and have done watercolors but (Informal Talk) Physically? (Informal Talk) Oh, I really don't do picture from sketches, I do sketches and I do pictures but I don't do studies but I have a feeling that nobody does. I mean I think when we see Ruben's sketches or anybody else's sketches that they are small pictures and if you look at them in terms of the finished earth, you often wish well if that was sketch to direct the artist he should have really struck to the sketch and really blown it up like that. (Informal Talk) Yes, well I know what you mean. Well I don't, no well I do sketches, I do pictures, I do small picture and big pictures. Actually I've really developed an idea with a pencil on papers sitting around and I know many contemporary painters, friends of mine who can worry over and evolve something from a back of an envelop and sculptors very often do, David Smith used to do that, I've seen Ken Nolan do sketches on the back of (inaudible 1:00:50) sort of work through an idea. That isn't a style that it's when I appreciate but not one on personally drawn too. (Informal Talk) All different ways, sometimes I will just top of the head without much thought mix several colors and just have them around, sometime I feel sort of stingy and mix two and as I go along keep mixing them. Sometime on my way to the studio I will feel I want to do a picture with only three colors in it and all of the certain tone or two of a certain tone and one in a completely different tone, it varies. In other words some of it is predetermined and some of it surprises me. Yes. (Informal Talk) I didn't hear the end of it. (Informal Talk) Its part of what I do, I mean I don't - its not a - I mean if you said to me when I on a hot summer day jumped into the bay, I love it, no I don't have that feeling about pouring thing but I don't hate it, I mean it's what I am doing as a part of the overall picture of what I'm doing. This is called Cinnamon Burn, this is called Proscenium and it's a I guess its about 10 x 4 or 4.5, and its 1967. All these slides are really terrible on color but you get the idea. This is called the something geographical Adriatic; and this is called (inaudible 1:03:30) centre.
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