Monday, February 10, 2014

Bidding to be arrested

Last call: Twelve hundred.
Two thousand!
Two thousand?
Twenty-one hundred!
I'm sorry, sir, but we can't ..
Make it Twenty-five hundred!
My money's as good as anybody's!

You remember, I remember: it is 1959
and Alfred Hitchcock is making a mov-
ie of which we wouldn't change a line;
and now, a man at an auction of paint-
ings is anxiously trying to be arrested.

At the same moment, the new art city, in
the phrase adopted for the reigning his-
tory of Manhattan's art world at the time,
is witnessing the opening of the defining
building, of a movement which survived the
Spanning the rear of its entry floor, a
restaurant is being readied as a gathering
place of optimism in a renewing world.

perate man can still court disgust if he 
has enough money. Evidently the owner of a
controlling interest in the building cannot 
that his money is as good as anyone's. Can't
this Maecenas buy himself an embassy somewhere?

When, do you suppose, they will ever learn, it was never about the money. 

In the revolting, frenzied meltdown of all dignity, since Thatcher and Reagan, iconoclasm of all stripes is simply a boutonnière of cheek, and we have seen this exuberant vulgarity strike at the absolute heart of optimism, itself, already in Manhattan just this year. I give you a malign cropduster, who passes his glove over the dust on Michelangelo's tomb sculptures and offers to pop for their replacement with crystal domes by Mauboussin. They cost more; oughtn't they be more worthy? As his arrest warrant, yes.

It could never have been about the money at this building or this restaurant. It could only, always have been about the rarity of what is possible to do in public to give hope. I have admired the popular play on Mark Rothko, for good, sufficient reasons; I never did concur in his objections to this setting. I would not have believed anyone could be so dense as not to see, or so intolerant as not to permit, the innocent existence of a beloved place. 

For generations, people have gathered beneath the work of art this fellow openly reviles, tak-ing shelter from such brutish-ness. A legitimate worry, well developed in New Art City, that new art was threatened with being reduced to mere decor, was suspended in that place by a reassuring brilliance of procession, layer, line, and scale, which is as close to timeless as anything built in that century, all focusing a single, simple inference with éclat. It actually is all right to be alive. People can create beauty, and they can share in it.

Now let us make a party of in-heritance, right here.

Alfred Hitchcock
Ernest Lehman
North by Northwest
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1959©

Jed Perl
New Art City
  Manhattan at Mid-Century
Knopf, 2005©

David Segal
At Four Seasons, Picasso Tapestry
  Hangs on the Edge of Eviction
The New York Times
February 3, 2014©

Martin Filler
Taking Down Picasso
The New York Review of Books
February 7, 2014

Paul Goldberger
Why Picasso's 'Le Tricorne'
  Must Remain ..
Vanity Fair
February 7, 2014

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Philip Johnson
Phyllis Bronfman
The Seagram Building
375 Park Avenue

The Four Seasons
99 East 52nd Street

Pablo Picasso
Le Tricorne
Les Ballets Russes

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