One day in 1965, as he was walking by St. Mark’s Church in New York’s East Village, Basil King came to a dreadful realization. “You’re a painter,” he told himself, “who’s never been.”
The verdict, which he relates in Learning to Draw / A History (Skylight Press, 2011), was, of course, wrongheaded. King had been making art since he was a boy. Still, he brought it up again during my visit to his brownstone in Brooklyn, where he and his wife, the writer Martha King, have lived since moving from Manhattan in 1969.