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The X-5, an x-format painting made up of five diamond shaped panels, measuring 102 by 102 inches overall. Each panel consists of a black five against a star within a light gray pentagon within a black circle against a dark gray ground.

The X-5, 1963. Photo: Courtesy of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Artwork: © Morgan Art Foundation Ltd./Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

This is one of five paintings executed all in 1963 given to the theme of and in homage to Charles Demuth’s “Five” painting in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. The central and major painting of this series is “The Demuth American Dream #5”, exhibited for the first time in the same Americans 1963 show at the Museum of Modern Art, but subsequently going into the Dunn International Exhibition at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, New Brunswick, from which it was purchased by the Toronto Gallery of Art, but then went on to be exhibited at the Tate Gallery, London, in the same show, becoming my first major painting to be exhibited publicly in Europe. “The X-5” is auxilliary [sic] to this painting, stripped of its literary connotations and associations to my own American Dream series. The literary aspect is in relation, through the Demuth painting, to a poem by William Carlos Williams about the golden figure 5 which he saw on a passing fire engine, which inspired Demuth in 1928, by coincidence the year of my own birth. In the parent painting there are three 5’s against each star, which becomes in my mind 3 5, or the difference between 63 (the year of my painting) and 28 (the year of Demuth’s painting), thereof giving rise to another coincidence: Demuth died in ’35. And by a more unpleasant coincidence William Carlos Williams died in 1963 after my painting was executed. Whereas “The Dream” is cruciform, “The X-5” is an X, relating it backwards to my “Beware-Danger American Dream #4,” now owned by Joseph Hirshhorn, and railroadwise (my grandfather was an engineer for the Pennsylvania RR) to “Highball on the Redball Manifest” in the James A. Michener Foundation Collection, Allentown Art Museum. Within the current body of my work this is the first all black, white and gray painting — a considerable departure from the general polychromy of my paintings and constructions. Its relatives the larger “Diamond Five” and the smaller “Diamond Five” are in the collections respectively of Robert Scull and John Kloss. The fifth and last painting of the Demuth series is “The Figure Five”, a rectangular canvas, reproduced in the catalogue of the Stankiewicz-Indiana Exhibition, The Walker Art Center, 1963, and permanently in my own collection. “The X-5” is one of my own favorite paintings.