William Corbett on K. McGill Loftus

K. McGill Loftus, 20 Questions Series, n.d., portfolio of etchings with aquatint and collage, 20 sheets, each 10 x 13 inches (25.4 x 33 cm). © K. McGill Loftus / Photo: Laura Mitchell

K. McGill Loftus. Sounds like a made-up name. The Collector’s database reports that he bought 20 Questions Series on November 18, 1959. He does not remember the purchase or the artist.

K. McGill Loftus could be an answer to a game of 20 Questions.

“Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?”
“An artist?”

The computer turns up many a Loftus but no K. McGill. Absent the artist, we do have the art.

20 Questions is a parlor game—does anyone still use the word parlor?—also employed to amuse children on long car rides. Wikipedia says it was invented in the 1940s, which makes sense, because there were a lot more cars after World War II and thus a lot more bored and annoying children in their back seats. The game had to be current when K. McGill made this series for the joke to work. It is a mild, non sequitur joke, meant, I suppose, to animate the art and vice versa. A few of the questions call to mind the art of Glen Baxter but lack his punch.

The series is a meeting of art and idea, often an uneasy relationship. Number 12 is my favorite. As a baseball fan, I love paper doll uniforms and can easily imagine myself in all of them.

In every large collection there must be a Loftus, a forgotten artist. What did the Collector see in this work?

A guess: he has always loved a series.

K. McGill Loftus Biography

K. McGill Loftus was active during the mid-twentieth century. If you have any further information on this artist, please contact us.
William Corbett Biography
William Corbett (b. 1942, Norfolk, VA) is a poet and memoirist who lives in Brooklyn. He teaches writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has published books on the painters Philip Guston and Albert York, and has edited the letters of the poet James Schuyler. Corbett directs the small press, Pressed Wafer. Hanging Loose Press published his book of poems entitled The Whalen Poem (2011).