“I just thought of this. Back in the Village. We were having a party, the painters, in one of the studios, and a wealthy West Coast art dealer who was invited wanted to know if he could bring a lady friend. Sure. She turned out to be Hedy Lamarr.
I can still see her, that white turban, the gown. Great. She was the only girl, and a bunch of us were taking turns dancing with her.
Late in the evening and the wine, she said, 'I don’t know if you gentlemen know it, but today’s my birthday.'
Hey. Wow. We had to do something for Hedy on her birthday. So the painters began to tack up canvas on the walls, everywhere, and each of them – deKooning, Johns, Guston, several others – made a painting or sketch of Hedy.
She carried home a package of paintings, still wet, by artists who were to become world names in the following years. What Hedy brought home, I’d put the market value today at something like $400,000.”
Note: This charming story is included the equally charming "Give My Regards To Eighth Street – Collected Writings of Morton Feldman" (Cambridge, Exact Change, 2000).
The book is a collection of essays, lectures, short observations/sketches and epigrams by the famous 20th century American composer of indeterminate music and it makes rewarding reading from beginning to end.
Much of the book naturally focuses on music and musical performance, but there is a great emphasis (for reasons of aesthetic comparison and, I think, close examination of the sources of artistic inspiration and technique) on painting also. Feldman’s remarks are mostly subtle, unexpected and trenchant; some seem obscure and beside (or somewhere away from) the point. However, everything is communicated with energy, passion and humor.
As for Hedy Lamarr at the artists’ party, what can you say? All thoughts of Miss Lamarr bring on breathlessness and early memories of photographic stills from “Ecstasy.” What a beauty! I had no thoughts whatsoever of posting photos of De Kooning, Johns, Guston or Morton Feldman here.