Basil King at 24 years old. Whitehall Street Studio. Photo credit: Lynn St. John


I began to draw when I was 5 or 6 years old. I remember copying cartoons by David Low when I was in England.  Black and white. Black and white has always been very important to me.  Ink. Charcoal. Print. 

By the time I was 14, I was in the USA and painting every day. But otherwise, as has often been the case, my life was unsettled. By lucky circumstance, I found Black Mountain College when I was 16—and from there I was able to enter the heart of abstract expressionism. It was 1951. I fell in love and because of love I stayed there a long time. I only slowly worked into a different use of figuration and abstraction over many years. 

Writing was part of being at Black Mountain. But I did not begin to write seriously until 1985, after my first trip back to England since my parents and I emigrated in 1947. 

Today I go back and forth between painting and writing, on two different floors of my house in Brooklyn. One feeds the other and in both I bring disparate things together.