LVMH Art Talks, Part 2: Ed Ruscha for Whitewall
As anyone who has ever met her will tell you, Lilly Tartikoff Karatz is no shrinking violet. A case in point was when she proudly accepted the challenge of the high bar set by the first event for the brunch that proceeded the second talk, held at her home on Sunday, October 9. She devised a single dining table long enough to seat more than fifty guests, covered with white linen and lined with bouquets of blood-red dahlias. The meal was elegant and relaxed, and guests had ample time to take in the Karatzes’ extensive collection. The pair being devoted collectors, they truly beamed, honored to be hosting one of their favorite artists.
When it came time for the talk, Deitch began by praising Ruscha for nothing less than reinventing painting, then got the ball rolling by asking the artist to respond to a claim he once made that “Being in L.A. has had little or no effect on my work.” The conversation then circled back to follow the twists and turns of the Oklahoma-born-and-bred artist’s famous career, beginning with Ruscha recounting how he hitchhiked across America in his late teens before applying to art school, and admitting that the school he attended was not his first choice, but, in his typically unassuming way, claiming things worked out in the end. So it would seem, yes, and then, as director and artist accelerated from talk of United States past to present, it was particularly impressive that Ruscha spoke so sincerely of his inspirations and heroes, which range from Cadillacs to Gertrude Stein’s poetry. And what a surreal moment it was to watch the artist, seated in front of History Miss, one of his painting int the Karatzes’ private collection, while offhandedly telling a story about the time in 1968 when he ran into Alexander Iolas and Rene and Madame Magritte and their dog Lulu in a gondola in Venice.
Naturally, a conversation with Ruscha would not be complete without its very own “made in L.A.” moment, which happened with the artist stopped to ask restauranteur and guest Michael Chow about the particular soy sauce and egg yolks the artist had used in one of his paintings. (Chow politely declined to share the recipe.) Finally, bringing the conversation full circle, in a-rose-is-a-rose style, Ruscha concluded, “You could say I’m hung up on how things change.” Just like that no posturing, no pretense. And it was such moments that made these conversations so very real.