Swelter

Around 2:00 a.m. Duane's royal friend, the Czech prince, showed up with his nonroyal boyfriend, proper pronoun usage turning a tad sloppy among the fast set -- bitch this, bitch that. But Duane was all that and more, noting as he eyeballed me: "He's the Proust of these trashy people down here, but his column is sooo long." Inspired by the overhype, I went on to other conversations with the regulars, the evening going demented: the idea of gay years being roughly equivalent to dog years, with 30 being an logical threshold for euthanasia; whether an intelligent bottom or a dumb but macho top is preferable in a pinch; a prominent local celeb and his dark private life -- you know him, you love him, and there are reasons you would never think of having sex with him.

It was all suitable, in a Proustian way, for a tightened-up Remembrance of Things Past, and Deitch's story about Anselm Kiefer's profound social statement in New York made the evening complete. Kiefer, whose tortured paintings relate to the Holocaust and German angst, became the star of the Eighties art world but misstepped with one spectacular affair in the city of ambition. It's all ashes and dust, and in the end parties are all that matter in a world of pitiless triviality.

Deitch capturing the cruelty of the whirl: "Throughout the Eighties, Kiefer had always lived a reclusive life in Germany with his wife. Then he took up with his head assistant, a woman with social ambitions. He left his wife, moved to New York, and immediately bought Julian Schnabel's place. Then, encouraged by the girlfriend, he decided to host a grand debut, some two years ago now. Every important art figure in New York, many of whom had never met him, were invited to a white theme party at this hired loft -- the female guests were required to wear white. The concept of Kiefer having a party was so bizarre and mysterious, and it became the most sought-after invitation of the year.

"Beforehand we all went to a curious Kiefer exhibit at Marian Goodman's gallery. In one room he'd stacked up an enormous pile of his paintings and raw materials, as if they were all garbage. The plan was to throw everything away after the show, to avoid selling the work and paying his ex-wife more alimony. It was very angry, a powerful statement of contempt. In the next room there were all these white artist's sketch pads, with 'Twenty Years of Solitude' written on a banner around the room. On each page of the sketch pads he'd masturbated -- every day for twenty years, carefully marking down the time and date. All that fame, those millions of dollars he'd made, and there he was alone and masturbating in Germany.

"Afterward there was some sort of logistical problem at the party, and everyone had to wait at the door, as if we were at a nightclub. Inside the loft there were carcasses hanging from the ceiling, pigs and cows and such. The food was all white as well, pig intestines, brains, that kind of thing, served on silver trays by waiters. He'd hired drag queens to mingle with the guests, but they weren't particularly popular or pleasant. I suppose they weren't too happy with all these art-world fools. Naturally no one could eat anything, and people left early, offended and disgusted by this disaster. Right after that Kiefer sold Schnabel's place and bought an entire village in Provence, returning to his seclusion. With one party his life changed overnight, and nothing was ever the same again.

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