Well, this was 1960 and people went to Angkor from Bangkok, where you took the plane in in the morning and the plane out in the evening. I was with my daughter, my 10-year old daughter at the time. And she was a perfect companion, because she loved looking at things very curious, very interesting. And afterwards, when the plane came to us to leave, I said, “Are you up for staying?” and she just loved the idea, so that we were the only people there in the hotel at night, terrified, because there were all kinds of birds, made noises all night long. We never knew whether they were in the room or out of the room.
But in any event, Angkor was just being discovered in terms of the post war tourism thing. So, there were very few, and they hadn’t restored it, so it had these centuries of mold growing over the statuary. There was a kind of mystery that made you feel that there was something you had to know, you had to find out about, and then the dimensions were extraordinary, they were huge. I had already been living in Rome, but one had no experience of that sense of time. And I just wanted to stay and we stayed for that week, but remember we were there 24 hours a day. It wasn’t like just going in and having lunch some place and then looking at art.
We were really experiencing the mystery, and then also the dimensions that — I had never lived within those kind of dimensions. You’re living in New York City — which for then I was living in Rome, but if you’re living in New York City and you’re in front of a skyscraper, you don’t take the whole thing in at once. You don’t have this sense of world that you’ve never experienced, that you know something about, but very little in terms of its mystical presence. And the week in Angkor was equivalent of three years or four years in any other place. It was quite a — there were besides from just the statuary and the buildings. There were also these strange birds, and also it had been abandoned. It was not that far after the war, and they had very few visitors. And the people there they giggled every time they saw me and my daughter, but they were so sweet and wonderful and open.
And it was like me getting a PhD in Art History in terms of statuary. It was amazing, and it gave me a sense of dimension. I never did small sculptures after that. I only worked very big. The proportions were always over my size, something one can walk into and walk around. That week was worth an eight-year post graduate course.