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Late Capote

Julian Barnes

19 February 1981
Music for Chameleons 
by Truman Capote.
Hamish Hamilton, 262 pp., £7.95, February 1981, 0 241 10541 2
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... in the flush of vital middle age, capering into Studio 54 on the languid arm of a heavily beringed dress designer: a man, it appears, of active sensuality verging on self-indulgence. Now compare the IrvingPenn photograph for the back jacket of Music for Chameleons. Emaciated fingers delicately support a frail skull: without their help, you feel, the head might simply snap off. One hand, indeed ...

At the V&A

Brian Dillon: Cecil Beaton

5 April 2012
... In 1950 the great American fashion photographer IrvingPenn wrote to Cecil Beaton, for whom he had recently sat, praising his ‘vague clairvoyance, the gentleness of not meeting the subject too head-on’. Beaton himself put it more vividly: ‘I coo like a ...

At Tate Modern

Brian Dillon: Klein/Moriyama

22 November 2012
... montage: it blows up early photographs to movie-screen scale and mounts them directly on the walls. The show is surprisingly short on Klein’s fashion work, where he was the graphic equal of IrvingPenn and a far stranger photographer than, say, David Bailey or Richard Avedon. But then he has long been ambivalent about his fashion photography; already in 1966 he had skewered that milieu with Who Are ...

At the Jeu de Paume

Brian Dillon: Peter Hujar

9 December 2019
... challenged the diva style of traditional drag with their hirsute countercultural masculinity. Hujar’s portrait Cockette John Rothermel in Fashion Pose, from 1971, has aspects of Cecil Beaton and IrvingPenn – feathers, rouge and diamante – but it’s Rothermel’s haze of chest hair that really makes it. ‘I like people who dare,’ Hujar said.That’s not to say his portraits lack ...

White Hat/Black Hat

Frances Richard: 20th-Century Art

6 April 2006
Art since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism 
by Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois and Benjamin H.D. Buchloh.
Thames and Hudson, 704 pp., £45, March 2005, 0 500 23818 9
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... spectator and the mob’. Brodovitch introduced American magazines to cinematic close-ups and montage, and pilfered from El Lissitzky and Rodchenko in order to sell Dior. Through his students IrvingPenn and Richard Avedon, he also helped to engineer the retro-fitting of ‘fine’ art with the styles and concerns of advertising. All this is hardly to scratch the surface of Art since 1900 and its ...

At the V&A

Marina Warner: Alexander McQueen

3 June 2015
... tips, recycling mountains and rubbish dumps from all over the world with McQueen’s collection ‘The Horn of Plenty’, a super chic retro homage-to-cum-satire-of the New Look and the elegance of IrvingPenn.† It’s perhaps too easy to read this show with hindsight and find self-hatred seeping through it all, but self-disgust and the fear of imaginative collapse are forcefully conveyed. He ...
4 May 2016
‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
by Robin Muir.
National Portrait Gallery, 304 pp., £40, February 2016, 978 1 85514 561 0
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‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
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... and Barbara Mullen – one in pale watery blues, one in dusky green, others in gold and pink – suggested an uncomplicated global elegance. The 1950s also saw Vogue’s attempts at egalitarianism. IrvingPenn invited tradesmen into the studio – fishmonger, bricklayer, street sweeper – for a ‘Small Trades’ feature and photographed them in their work clothes. Photojournalist magazines like ...

Performing Seals

Christopher Hitchens: The PR Crowd

10 August 2000
Partisans: Marriage, Politics and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals 
by David Laskin.
Simon and Schuster, 319 pp., $26, January 2000, 0 684 81565 6
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... and ‘commitments’ or ‘committings’ (to mental hospitals, I mean); their dramas of adultery and rivalry. Paradoxically, this is why so many of the club escape mention except in footnotes. Irving Howe, for example, gave no sexual trouble to anyone we know about. Nor indeed did Diana Trilling. William Phillips and William Barrett seem to have been uxorious or monastic by contrast to the ...

Bush’s Useful Idiots

Tony Judt: Whatever happened to American liberalism?

21 September 2006
... we feel obliged to speak out.’ The advertisement was signed by 63 prominent intellectuals, writers and businessmen: among them Daniel Bell, J.K. Galbraith, Felix Rohatyn, Arthur Schlesinger Jr, Irving Howe and Eudora Welty. These and other signatories – the economist Kenneth Arrow, the poet Robert Penn Warren – were the critical intellectual core, the steady moral centre of American public ...

Liquored-Up

Stefan Collini: Edmund Wilson

17 November 2005
Edmund Wilson: A Life in Literature 
by Lewis Dabney.
Farrar, Straus, 642 pp., £35, August 2005, 0 374 11312 2
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... Wilson did not belong to the generation before the Fall, the generation supposedly furnishing the examples of the now lost ‘critic as intellectual’, those emblematic figures such as Trilling or Irving Howe who assumed their cultural inheritance in the 1940s and 1950s. Wilson, born in 1895, came into his own in the 1920s. It underlines his remoteness to recall that he had already graduated from ...

I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters

24 January 2013
Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... and had the medals and scars to prove it. The novelists and poets in these pages – the stellar cast includes Lillian Hellman, Mary McCarthy, Truman Capote, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Penn Warren, Peter Matthiessen, Philip Roth, Irwin Shaw and the always vivacious William Burroughs (‘He is an absolutely astonishing personage, with the grim mad face of Savonarola and a hideously ...

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