Oral history interview by Paul Cummings with Federico Castellon, 1971 Aprl 7-14, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

PC: You had mentioned before doing that portfolio, the "Mask of the Red Death." Have you done many?
FC: Portfolios?
PC: Portfolios, as literary as that one?
FC: No, not as literary as that one. As a matter of fact, that came out too literary.
PC: It did?
FC: I don't think . . . , yeah. I don't know if you've seen it, the format?
PC: I have, yeah.
FC: The format was so much a book, bound and everything. I was very, very unhappy with the way they eventually put it out. I think it would have been better to have it a little more spaced out. I think it would have been better to make bigger prints so that it could have involved myself, you know, the quality of the print itself. But at the time they did that, that was the first on the project. They were very concerned about every . . . that binding a little upset, you know, on the literary thing; that is, mixing fine art and illustration. That was the first that I had ever done; I hope I'll never do another one. Individually I liked the prints.
PC: How did they pick that one, though?
FC: Well, I picked it, they didn't pick it.
PC: Oh, I see.
FC: I picked it became a lot of my work is devoted to this kind of questioning of what the hell is it all about and to me that was typical of the philosophy that Poe seemed to project. That we try to pose whatever we want, do whatever we want, everything, and therefore the whole game . . . . Shakespeare calls everybody an actor on the stage and everything but in the end he has that equalizer.
PC: Right, yeah.
FC: No matter how you try, he's there so your success is so temporal and since life is so temporal that it doesn't mean anything.
PC: Well, did Poe interest you? Or is he just an under . . . .
FC: No, he interests me, as I discussed the last time, there is a dark, very dark side to my work and Poe is quite a dark guy.



Works reproduced with scans made available by Michael T. Ricker from his collection.