Wednesday, July 13, 2022

the last book I ever read (Everybody Thought We Were Crazy: Dennis Hopper, Brooke Hayward, and 1960s Los Angeles, excerpt eight)

from Everybody Thought We Were Crazy: Dennis Hopper, Brooke Hayward, and 1960s Los Angeles by Mark Rozzo:

On June 10, Dennis and Brooke finally met Andy Warhol when they went uptown to the artist’s town house at East 89th Street and Lexington Avenue. Irving Blum had arranged the rendezvou with the aid of Henry Geldzahler, the impossibly well connected curator in the Metropolitan Museum’s Department of American Paintings and Sculpture who was also Michael Thomas’s old friend from Yale. The Antwerp-born, gregarious, encyclopedically intellectual Geldzahler was among the few curators who was willing to stick up for Pop Art as a legitimate enterprise. During the proceedings, which included a happy reunion for Brooke and Henry (“It’s all wonderfully conncted,” she thought), two more artists showed up at Warhol’s house: David Hockney, in from London, and his “sexy friend,” the New York painter Jeff Goodman. As Hockney recalled, the artists, the curator, and the couple from Los Angeles hit it off so well that Dennis “invited us to come the next day and watch him shooting a television series he was working on.” After Brooke and Dennis left, Hockney mentioned to Warhol, Goodman, and Geldzahler that Night Tide was playing at the Selwyn on West 42nd Street; they all piled into a cab and headed down to the theater to watch Dennis on the movie screen.

Dennis and Brooke had much to discuss that night. Warhol had taken them to the studio he’d begun leasing earlier that year, a 2,500-square-foot space inside an old firehouse, Hook & Ladder 13, on East 87th Street. There they discovered that Warhol had been daubing paint onto a silver silk-screened image of Elizabeth Taylor. Cleopatra, the over-the-top sword-and-scandals epic, with Taylor in the title role alongside Richard Burton as Mark Antony, would begin its much-anticipated run in theaters the next day. (Miss Mac was scandalized by the affair Taylor and Burton were having.) What Brooke and Dennis were seeing in the studio that day was Warhol’s eureka moment as an artist. After the soup can paintings, he had gone all in on seriality and repetition, harnessing a commercial, mechanical process to machine-produce fine art. “Paintings are too hard,” he allegedly told an interviewer by way of explanation.

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