Sunday, April 11, 2010

Honest whores and smart vulgarians: Norris Church Mailer and Robert Scull.
After the auction, Rauschenberg, who later admitted that he had been drinking, shoved Mr. Scull in the chest and berated him for making so much money off his hard labor.

Not all the artists were angry. When Mr. Johns heard about the results, he and his crew took a break from making lithographs to uncork some Champagne. He knew, as Mr. Scull tried to explain to Rauschenberg, that the high prices would mean higher prices for the works he was making now. Roy Lichtenstein, who had also sold some paintings to Mr. Scull, said of Rauschenberg’s reaction, “What did he want, the work to decrease in value?”
I've run across three reviews of A Ticket to the Circus: Heather Havrilesky in Bookforum; Dwight Garner and Jennifer Senior, both in the Times. They vary in sensibility from post-feminist to vaguely feminist to sexist. Only Senior makes clear how badly Norris Church was sometimes (not always) treated and how weakness and perseverance share a kinship. The difference between the reviews is secondary here but the quote below seemed inappropriate without context.
Norris herself never hesitates to cast aspersions on her own reputation, as when she describes her first encounter with Mailer in 1975: "I patted the seat beside me, and he came and sat down while the other women gave me the evil eye, looking at me as though I was the hussy I was."
All the reviewers agree she comes off well, that she wanted an adventure and she used what she had to get it.
The art critic and historian Irving Sandler once wrote that he liked the Sculls because “they were vulgar, knew it, and didn’t give a damn.” But in a recent interview he added that Robert “was one of the only people at the time who understood this art.”

“It’s a major collection,” he said.
Usually I have a problem with Irving Sandler but not here.

In a recent thread at CT someone posted this exchange:
Churchill: “Madam, would you sleep with me for five
million pounds?"
Socialite: “My goodness, Mr. Churchill... Well, I suppose... we would have to discuss terms, of course...”
Churchill: “Would you sleep with me for five pounds?"
Socialite: “Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!”
Churchill: “Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.”
This is considered to be a victory for Churchill -and by a man- but it's not. Virtue obviously isn't the woman's chief concern, and it makes no sense she'd be offended by the accusation that she lacked it.
She was asking if he thought she were stupid.

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