C’est n’est pas une pipe

September 27, 2013

I was drawn to today’s front page of the NY Times “Weekend Arts” section as it has an article about the latest show at MOMA “Magritte:The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938″….(most people remember Magritte from his painting of a pipe with the words written. below it “C’est n’est pas une pipe”)

the article contains an enticing half page picture of “Not to be Reproduced” a painting of the back of a man…looking into the mirror but rather than seeing his face…… you see again the back of his head….

the painting is of Edward James…. Magritte stayed with him for a month in Edward’s London house in 1937 when Edward commissioned him to make works for his ballroom…..

Edward was born in 1907 and died in 1984…his father was an American merchant based in Liverpool who married the Scots socialite Evelyn Forbes (who was gossiped to be the illegitimate daughter of King Edward VII)….

in 1912 Edward inherited from his father (at the age of 5) “West Dean” in Suffex….it had 8,000 acres

Edward was a lover of my first…Paul Millard….I remember Paul saying that his wonderful maid “Miss Clara” …would say to Paul when she heard a helicopter flying over the house (8952 Norma Place)….

“Mr Paul…there is that crazy Mr Edward”

….as he would swoop low enough to throw flowers out of the helicopter on Paul’s house before he landed, several blocks away, on the roof of the Rexall Drug store (now a CVS) at the corner of La Cienega and Beverly…..where he was picked up by his driver….before he motored onto Paul’s house…(which was built years before as the dressing rooms for the silent film stars Constance and Norma Talmadge…their film stage was what was Tony Duquette’s studio when I moved to West Hollywood in 1969)

I have always been intrigued and loved Magritte’s paintings….as well they were SOO different back in those years as the NY Times says::

“Magritte’s art, like most early Modernism, had utopian dimensions: the shattering of social norms and perceptual givens in the interest of changing the world.”

Edward James backed a lot of Surrealist painters…probably the best known was Salvador Dali whom he “backed” for the whole of 1938…and Edward’s collection of Dali’s was “accepted as the finest collection of Surrealist work in private hands”.

When I met Paul at a cocktail party in 1969…we fell in love the first time we met…..he was in his 40’s and I was 22…Paul had been an actor..and by the time I met him was a Real Estate agent….he was VERY handsome…and in his 20’s was gorgeous, from photos I saw…

….his claim to fame was someone at MGM saw him in a minor role on Broadway…where Paul said his forte was to tap dance on 3 foot high balls….he was put under contract by MGM ..flown out to Hollywood ….and put into the role of the boyfriend of the show “My Little Margie”…which I had seen but never remembered him from…and at MGM and through the industry he met EVERYONE….

his greatest admirer and friend was Judy Garland…who wanted him to marry her and when he said he could not..well she smashed all of the mirrors in his NYC flat……

– the second time we met actually – was at Paul’s flat in West Hollywood – and from that night on I lived with him off and on for 7 years –

we started a business “It’s Time To Fly A Kite” in Beverly Hills (across from what is now Neiman Marcus)…

we bought an old stick shift English Austin Healy hearse that looked like a Rolls Royce with those big old headlights…the Beatles had rented it once….we called her Agatha and painted her Bright Yellow with “It’s Time To Fly A Kite” as the tail end of a kite painted on its sides..with a fridge inside for Paul’s vodka…we would take it to Will Roger’s Beach every weekend…..we also opened a branch in The Galleria in Houston..which was quite fun…well until….(no am not going there as I have already mentioned it before)

one of his tenants was the most wonderful 90 year old British Actress Estelle Winwood…she is a whole different story…like when she had to move her car for street cleaning…would throw on her floor length mink..still have her “frownies”..(supposedly helped with wrinkles) and night cap on….and motor her very LARGE car from one side of the street to the other..and I don’t think it had power steering….

well I was BLOWN away by Paul’s…always candle lit house…after the evening hours had waned….

as you entered the first thing you saw was a Real Candle lit Crystal Chandelier over the dining table with a credenza in the back over which hung Salvador’s painting of his wife “Galla’s Slippers”….he had many of Edward’s paintings…more Dalis…many of Tchelitchew..and Leonor Fini…my favorite was of her girlfriend on a commode….

Leonor was born in Argentina..(which makes me think of my burly slightly scary Argentinian waiter tonight…..who said to me.”I won’t be doing this forever…” whereupon I said thinking of Todd …”well not when you retire”…which totally broke him up…..

Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photo of her swimming nude sold in 2007 for $305,000..the highest paid for one of his works…

as I have said before Paul was the one in hindsight I loved the most of all the 7….

but when one is young….one struggles with one’s own identity

“C’est n’est pas une pipe”

2 Responses to “C’est n’est pas une pipe”

  1. Richard Steele said

    Love the story, again. R&R

  2. susi said

    “Ce n’est pas une pipe — c’est une grande histoire!

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