Leo Castelli


Do you sometimes wake with a start from a dream in which you were arguing about the artistic merits of Jackson Pollock versus, say, Willem de Kooning. Pollock is the king, one of your unconscious selves declares. He broke new ground, while de Kooning remained attached to vestiges of Cubism and German Expressionism. But then again, your waking self muses, why can’t you remember a single painting of Pollack’s whereas de Kooning’s Woman and Bicycle shines bright as your child’s first name.

And what of Andy Warhol? Just where did all the fuss come from? Or better yet, how did it start?

The answer to this question, and just about any other query relating to postwar art, will be answered this Wednesday, Sept. 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the Chilmark Public Library when Annie Cohen-Solal discusses her new book, Leo and His Circle, a biography of the renowned gallerist Leo Castelli.

Mr. Castelli opened his first art gallery in 1957 on East 77th street between Madison and Fifth avenues in New York city. Pollock, de Kooning and Warhol were just a few of the artists he discovered and represented over the years. In essence his gallery represented a who’s who of the contemporary pop art scene: Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Serra, big boys wielding big brushes. Just imagine the art opening parties.

Ms. Cohen-Solal is the visiting art professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her previous book is a biography of Jean-Paul Sartre and has been translated into 16 languages. Castelli brought her into his world when she first arrived in New York to work in the French embassy; she left the job, but remained lifelong friends with the man she calls a “social creature, with a bon vivant’s special know-how for making friends.”

Admission to this event is free. For details, call 508-645-3360.