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the royal flush
by Charlie Finch
Roy in Ben Day
Original photo Suzanne DeChillo in
the New York Times
sold for $3.6 million
at Christie's New York,
Nov. 20, 1996
L'eveil du coeur
in the New Yorker
Sept. 29, 1997.
|[Originally published on 9-30-97]
"I'm staying young, I'm staying young, but everyone around me is growing old."
-- Walter Pidgeon, singing in the Broadway Musical, Take Me Along.
The death of Roy Lichtenstein at age 73 of pneumonia shocks particularly because of the artist's preternatural youthfulness.
In the recent PBS documentary, Il Signore Castelli, Leo Castelli visits the lithesome Lichtenstein in his studio. As Roy sprightly alights his ladder, Leo jokes about mortality and whether "we'll be around 20 years from now," when Leo would be 108.
Lichtenstein looks at Leo with dread, as if the thought of death had just occurred to him for the first time.
In the spring of 1996 at Damien Hirst's opening, Lichtenstein danced with glee, dressed in a black windbreaker with a matching jaunty beret, like a teen out on his first date. It was hard to imagine at the time that this man would ever die.
After years of painting flat, dull interiors for the Meyerhoffs, Roy rediscovered the nude, doing masterful Ben Day strokes of winsome damsels buffing on the beach, a kind of Hamptons arcadia. The final work evoked the Japanese wave-master Hokusai, who famously remarked that he "finally learned to draw at 70, learned to deal with colors at 80, and at 90 become the thing itself."
Lichtenstein was a master of increments, placing one foot in front of the other and rarely making a mistake. Consequently he died at the top of his market with nowhere to go but up.
We'd be happy to help you, devos. Sources close to Matthew Barney tell the Royal Flush that Barney's inclusion of aging Bond girl Ursula Andress in Cremaster 5, his new geekfest, is a direct result of Yale Envy.
It seems that mad Mat was jealous of Harry Hamlin, Yale `74 (a classmate of the Royal Flush!!) and star of the cult Perseus flick, Clash of the Titans, as well as L.A. Law. Handsome Harry was married to the frequent Playboy poser for a decade and they have a son. Of course, being an artist and not a movie star, Yalie Barney gets Andress, at least on film, when she's on Social Security!
But there's a larger issue here: the continued attack by artists on critics. Nothing pleases Barney more than having someone like Jerry Saltz watching his video crap 75 times trying to figure it out.
And nothing tickles the Chapmans like giving the gullible Rosenblum a fake interview in which they rave about Sol LeWitt and Carl Andre as "the content of their work."
But Robby Rose gets the last laugh: fatuousness has always been a big arrow in his quiver -- this is a guy who praised Warhol's society portraits in the early `80s, for god's sake, a guy who resurrected the paintings of fin-de-sec dog Bouguereau, a guy whose classic, syntax-retarded Cubism and the 20th Century tells more about Juan Gris' technique than you would ever wanna know!!
Who's zoomin' whom?
Only the brown beams of the much-reviled Arnulf Rainer Museum survive, an impossible escape hatch from the tons of rust that engulf the puny viewer.
Dia buildings chief Jim Schaefele, who riskily told the New York Observer that one tip of the heavy but skinny sculpture could crush all in its path, joined Gagosian dogsbody Ealan Wingate to shake hands with all those who enter here.
I wrote this blip on a Joseph Beuys rock stump in a whistling wind, separated from Serra's leviathan by a thin stuccoed wall.
Go ahead, take your chances.
The combination of Rose's vacuous questions and Rauschenberg's exuberant shyness produced the following Zen koans:
Rose: Do you fear death?
Rose: Isn't your work childish?
Rose: You have pet chickens?
Genially fending off Champagne Charlie's super duper fatuousness, RR also drawled these gems:
"This isn't the easiest museum to do a show in!!"
"Do you think I like Diet Coke?"
"God may have to rewrite part of his book."
"How could you get used to something [the world] that changes every second?"
"Jasper and I were an audience of one for each other's work."
"I'm not sure what your question is."
And how about this historical gem:
Betty Parsons: I can't give you a show right now.
Rauschenberg: I didn't ask for a show.
During the audience question period, Rauschenberg was visibly pleased when your scribe asked about his great penis light boxes, of which only two are exhibited in the shadows of the SoHo Guggenheim, but a jittery Rose quickly whipped the cordless mike from our hands.
"It's been a sustained high to be able to play all year with Frank Gehry and Bob Rauschenberg."
The Charlie Rose interview will air on PBS in late October.
According to the 73-year-old Plimpton, who has twin three-year-olds with his young wife Sarah and looks at least 30 years younger than his age, Capote left instructions to Joanne Carson (ex of Johnny) to get a safe-deposit-box key from agent Allen Schwartz.
The problem? Where is the lock that fits the key?
CHARLIE FINCH is the New York editor of Coagula Art Journal and has coauthored the forthcoming Most Art Sucks from Smart Art Press.