It is strange being on the other side of the Atlantic and trying to explain what is happening to the British political system. Whatever happened to the British ability to compromise, to seek pragmatic and effective solutions to difficult situations ? We seem to have been driven up against a brick wall with a determination which sometimes seemed admirable, but now seems merely obstinate, unwilling and unable to back down, having lost the ability to listen to other people’s point of view and so without any obvious or possible way forward. Plan A in ruins and no Plan B.
After breakfast, I went on a tour of the Chelsea galleries: Milk (closed), Petzel, David Zwirner, who has a wonderful exhibition God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin, which documents Baldwin’s friendship with Richard Avedon. They were at school together in the Bronx and collaborated on The Magpie, the school magazine, as well as beginning work on a book of Harlem Doorways, based on the work of Atget. In 1964, they collaborated on Nothing Personal:-
Gladstone and Gagosian, both closed. 192 Books. 520 W. 20th. turns out to be Comme des Garçons:-
W. 22nd. looking east:-
On to Matthew Marks and Lehmann Maupin. Luckily, Hauser & Wirth have installed a Roth Grill for a cappuccino:
The area is changing fast:-
On I went to Gagosian, Mary Boone and Lisson on 24th., Pace and Cheim and Reid on 25th. I ended up at Printed Matter Inc. on 11th. Avenue at 26th. and Paula Cooper on 26th.:-
On the corner of 26th. and 11th. is the Starrett-Lehigh building, designed for the contractors of the Empire State Building and Lehigh Valley Railroad:-
I am now posting photographs of my perambulations round the neighbourhood of the Meatpacking District/West Chelsea/West Village yesterday in the late afternoon:-
Being still on British time, I went out early to get some breakfast and see the sun rise on the east side of the city. It was an impressive sight:-
We went to the first night – actually, it was the first afternoon – of a new production of The Queen of Spades: rather Germanic, with Stefan Herheim as the Norwegian director and Berndt Purkrabek as the designer of the beautiful, but traditional set and everyone dressed up in grey semi-frock coats as versions of Tchaikovsky, who was on stage throughout. Much was made of the fact that Tchaikovsky was both gay and briefly unhappily married. Beautiful singing by Liza and the Countess.
I had to meet someone under the portico of the British Museum:-
I took the opportunity of exploring the area to its east – not exactly Bloomsbury. I noticed that the local police station calls it Holborn.
Lamb’s Conduit Street:-
Dorothy Sayers’s house in Great James Street:-
John Street (Doughty Street is only it’s northern section):-
And Hand Court, where one gets into lawyer’s territory:-
For those who have access to today’s Financial Times (and those who don’t), I strongly recommend an article in the weekend supplement Life & Arts, which this weekend is a Special Edition ‘Inside the Mind’. The article is about the way that Romilly works as a jeweller with three collaborators, who she calls translators: how she designs very elaborate and complex works in her head and then describes what is required not through drawing, which she is unable to do, but through precise, but esoteric, verbal description, a highly developed personal shorthand. It’s on page 6, next to Donatella Versace and Catherine Deneuve.