David Bruce: The Coolest People in Art — Media, Mishaps

Media

• Pop artist Andy Warhol sometimes gave odd interviews. Once, an interviewer asked him, “Do you think Pop Art is — ?” Before the interviewer could finish the question, Mr. Warhol answered, “No.” When the interviewer tried again to ask the question, Mr. Warhol interrupted again before the question could be finished and gave the same answer, “No.” Frequently, nearing the end of an interview, he would ask, “Have I lied enough?” He really did frequently lie during interviews. For example, in various interviews, he said that he had been born in Hawaii, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh (the correct answer). In addition, people hanging around Mr. Warhol’s studio sometimes answered the telephone and discovered that a reporter wanted an interview with the famous artist, so they would pretend to be Mr. Warhol and allow the reporter to interview them. Mr. Warhol had no problem with this. In fact, he once let an actor wear one of his wigs and give lectures out west while pretending to be the famous artist.

• While in New York to receive the Women’s National Press Club’s Achievement Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Art, artist Grandma Moses had fun with the reporters. When a reporter asked if she intended to paint any scenes of New York, she replied that it didn’t appeal to her. The reporter asked if she meant that New York didn’t appeal to her as painting material, and Grandma Moses replied, “As any material.” (She did say that she liked the reporters because they were nice boys and girls and the way they came running up to her to get quotations reminded her of the chickens back home running up to her at feeding time.)

• Sculptor Louise Nevelson was once asked about reincarnation. She replied, “I don’t believe in reincarnation”; however, she agreed to answer a question about it. The interviewer asked, “What would you like to come back as in your next life?” She replied, “Louise Nevelson.”

Mishaps

• Costume designer Edith Head was nominated for 35 Academy Awards and won eight. However, to get her first job in Hollywood fashion — as an assistant — she cheated a little. She was able to draw landscapes well as an artist, but she could not draw the human form well. Therefore, she borrowed a number of sketches of the human form from her fellow art students, signed her name to them, and showed them to the man with the job, which she got. She then began studying how to draw the human form well. Of course, she had a few mishaps early in her career. For example, she was supposed to design the costumes for some elephants in the movie The Wanderer. She designed some colorful garlands made of fruits and flowers to decorate the elephants. Unfortunately, the elephants ate their costumes. Therefore, she was forced to use artificial fruits and flowers for their garlands. In 1925, she designed the costumes for the candy ball in Cecil DeMille’s movie The Golden Bed. She used real candy and chocolate in the costumes. Unfortunately, the movie lights melted the candy and chocolate. Fortunately, a couple of other fashion designers rescued the scene, but Ms. Head resolved never to embarrass herself again, if she could help it.

• If famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright had a weakness, it was his designs for furniture. When he designed the Johnson Wax Administrative Building in Racine, Wisconsin, he also designed three-legged chairs that unfortunately tipped over frequently, spilling the occupant onto the floor. The company president asked him why he had not put four legs on the chairs, and Mr. Wright replied, “You won’t tip if you sit back and put your two feet on the ground because then you have five legs holding you up. If five legs won’t hold you, then I don’t know what will!” Earlier in his career, Mr. Wright designed chairs for another building he had designed: the Larkin Company Administration Building in Buffalo, New York. His chairs were called “suicide chairs” because they tipped over so frequently. Although Mr. Wright thought — correctly — of himself as a genius, even he admitted that his chairs were far from comfortable. He once said, “I have been black and blue in some spot, somewhere, almost all my life from too much intimate contact with my own early furniture.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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THE COOLEST PEOPLE IN ART

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