A collection of xerox sheets created by Ian Hamilton Finlay for distribution to friends and supporters during 1988 when Finlay felt heavily under attack from both political authories such as Strathclyde Region and also critics such as Catherine Millet who had accused him of anti-Semitism using mostly made up or exaggerated “evidence”. The collection is:
ORIGINAL XEROX COPY OF LETTER TO INEZ HORST-ALETRINO & ORIGINAL XEROX TRANSCRIPT OF THE RADIO PROGRAMME IN WHICH CATHERINE MILLET LIBELLED FINLAY AS ANTI-SEMITE. 1988.
Little Sparta: Finlay, 4th May 1988
Two original vintage xerox stapled sheet (both recto) of a letter from Finlay to “Inez” (Inez Horst-Aletrino – a Dutch painter who was close to the Finlay family).
Finlay points out that his life has been a “nightmare” following the accusations of Catherine Millet and he notes he is inclosing for information his statement for a “right of reply” in France as well as a “transcript of the radio broadcast which led to the cancellation of the Versailles project”.
Finlay points out that “none of those taking part have ever seen our garden. The broadcast is LIES and INVENTIONS designed to destroy Sue and I. Never before have I encountered such EVIL. It has changed our lives for ever.”
An important letter showing the impact the controversy was having on the Finlay family at the time.
Twelve 30 x 21cm, original vintage xerox sheets (all printed recto) with a transcript (in French) of the radio programme hosted by Stephane Paoli in which Catherine Miller, Michel Blum and Catherine Duhamel discuss Finlay and libel him with charges of being anti-Semite. Millet begins by claiming a work (OSSO) has a SS double lightning strike symbol on it and makes the rather simplistic reading of the work that it is pro-nazi. They then raise the matter of Finlay’s commission by the French government of a major public work and Blum claims that Finlay’s correspondence with the jailed Albert Speer is further proof of national socialist sympathies. The programme continues in the same vein – Millet makes several claims about works in Little Sparta (works she had never seen) that were evidence of National Socialist sympathies eg the washing line that Sue and Ian Finlay joked was called the Seigfried Line (a joke that is obvious to those of British background as there was a popular anti-Hitler song of that name in the second world war “Hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line”.
An important document that documents the outrageous way in which the French critics used lies and exaggerations to stoke public anger against Finlay his and eventually cause the commission to be withdrawn by the French Government without any explanation.
VINTAGE XEROX OFFPRINT OF MAATSTAF NR 3 1988. WITH ARTICLE BY WIM MEULENKAMP. 1988.
N.p.: n.p., 1988
23.5 x 21cm, 18pp (recto only). A xerox copy of the Meulenkamp article as a contribution to the Maatstaf magazine. The article is packed with mistakes and lies – it claims that Little Sparta is full of works with Nazi symbolism (there are indeed some but the inference here is that Finlay is a Nazi which is stupid. He also notes he is writing the article in a spirit of “revenge” – Finlay had complained about a book written by Meulenkamp which claimed Little Sparta was a “folly” which again it clearly is not. The polemic claims Finlay’s wife came up with many of his ideas and also calls Finlay’s work “shallow” which is just about the last thing most critics would claim of these multilayered works. Amazingly Meulenkamp actually publishes names and addresses of people who wrote to him criticising him. It is a nasty bit of work by someone who clearly has the intelligence to know better but has given in to his baser nature.
One can only imagine Finlay’s reaction when this article was sent to him.
TEXT OF THE ‘DROIT DE RESPONSE’ SENT TO THE FRENCH PRESS BY FINLAY’S LAWYER. 1988.
n.p.: n.p. (Maitre Jean-Claud Zylberstein), n.d. (1988)
An original vintage xerox 30 x 21cm, 1pp copy of a statement (here in the original English) made by Finlay’s lawyer Maitre Jean-Claud Zylberstein on the day that he announced actions for damages against Jonathan Hirschfeld, Art press, the magazine Galeries and the French Government.
The statement notes the horror felt by Finlay at being attacked as being a Nazi and being anti-semitic and the background where a work OSSO exhibited in Paris ARC in 1987 was mis-interpreted: “the work equated the SS insignia with the “primal wildness” of nature and with death. In the exhibition it was contrasted with the perfected forms of culture represented by the neo-platonic Cubes. This was clearly set out in the texts displayed in the exhibition”.
The attacks on Finlay by Jonathan Hirschfeld who Finlay had co-exhibited with in the Fondation Cartier were also explained. Maitre Jean-Claud Zylberstein argues that Hirschfeld picked a fight in private correspondence with Finlay and then released them with deliberate mistranslations to make Finlay look bad.
“A man is not a Nazi because he identifies the SS with savage nature or because he defends himself when attacked unreasonably by a man who happens to be jewish.”