David Salle at The Brooklyn Rail:
Walter was a prodigious talker. There was a time when we spoke on the phone every few weeks, seldom for less than an hour. Walter would call up, sometimes in the morning, or later in the afternoon, and without much preamble or conventional small talk would launch into his latest musings on broad historical events, like the Westward Migration and its late flowering in the art of the 1950s, or the Civil War (a favorite topic) and how it shapes attitudes still, and then continue, in that looping, circuitous way of his, through various other formative periods in American history (FDR, WWII, Eisenhower), before arriving, either quickly or slowly, at his main themes, one thing linked to and calling up the others: jazz, especially his beloved Miles, Dada, Duchamp (or simply Marcel, as Walter referred to him); American painting after the War; the social and economic history of Southern California and how it intersected with the visual arts; Surrealism in America; the history of the Beats; Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg; Faulkner; the movies, and anything having to do with Dennis Hopper, Jean Stein, or Terry Southern; there was also postmodernism, the architecture of Louis Kahn, Native American shamanistic rituals, baseball—well, you get the idea. Like I said, at least an hour.
The conversations, near monologues really, would often end with him making a connection to his listener (that is, me) with something like, “Now, what you guys are up to today is in line with what Bob and Jasper were doing in the early 60s. I get that.” I never felt it was gratuitous or a sop.