Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Rene Ricard

I met Rene Ricard in 2002 when he came to give a lecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I was a student. Ambitious young artist and writer that I was, I set up an interview with him. Instead of a brief chat, I was pulled into his frenetic world. I only spent a short week with him, but it was a life changing experience, something I suspect happened with almost everyone whose life intersected with his. Rene (no accent mark!) passed away in early February.

Rene in 2003 • Nancy Smith, artnet

“The clubs were just filled with all these... ‘Young geniuses.’ Of course that’s all gone now. The whole art world is dead. No one goes to the clubs anymore, there’s nothing interesting happening.”

“But maybe–not to be brash.”

“Oh, please, be brash.”

“Not to be brash.”

“Yes, yes, get on with it.”

“Maybe you just don’t know where any of the good clubs are.”

“Yes, yes, I’m old and boring and nobody loves me. I don’t get invited to any of the good parties. Is that what you mean, you little bitch?” Gasps, silence and then laughter. Rene Ricard takes a drag from his unfiltered Camel cigarette, one of many he’s been chain-smoking throughout his lecture. “…Or whatever you are?” Holds the fag daintily and gently taps the ash off. “Or did I hit the nail right on the head?”


In the early 1960s, when Rene was seventeen he saw one of the Warhol Flower paintings at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. He stared at it until the museum closed; he’d been sitting there for three hours. After that he immediately went to New York and joined the Factory. He had a Screen Test, he was in Chelsea Girls and he was one of Warhol’s Superstars.

Rene Ricard (left) with Andy Warhol (center) during the Factory days • photo via Hotel Chelsea Blog

“Can I ask you a gossipy question?”

“Oh No! Gossip. No, go ahead. But just one.”

“So can you talk about the fight you had with Andy?” I asked.

“We had so many! Ha!”

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Production Line of Happiness

Art or Idiocy congratulates Christopher Williams on his large scale museum exhibition,  surveying his 35-year career, on view at the Art Institute of Chicago through May 18th.

Christopher Williams
For Example: Chaton sjouant avec un appareil photo dans le style d'une photographie conceptuelle (Revision 13)
via Fotointeres

Friday, November 22, 2013

Family History / World History

Guest contribution from Helen Wenzel Moss

It was sometime in the 1960's Mama told me the story of how our family knew the Oswald family. She said we knew the family through Christ Lutheran Church. The father was an insurance collector who came by our house on Independence Street in the late 1930's to collect payments on an insurance policy bi-weekly or monthly, as was the practice during those times. Mama said he was a very nice, pleasant man. Unfortunately he died very suddenly from a heart attack about two months before his second son was born. The Oswald mother, Marguerite, was in hardship from the loss of his income and with children to support. When the youngest son was a few years old, she put the children in the Bethlehem Children's home. Christ-Bethlehem Lutheran School was on the Bethlehem property. My sisters Faith and Judith, and brother Bruce attended school there at the time. Judith went to school with an older son of Marguerite Oswald.

Mama never thought of the Oswalds again until late in 1963. In 1963 Mama worked for the National Bank of Commerce at 210 Baronne Street (at the corner of Common Street) in New Orleans’ Central Business District. Uncle Fritz was manager of Jefferson Hardware Store at 4209 Magazine Street in Uptown New Orleans. After work, Mama would walk the three blocks to the corner of Camp Street and Common Street. She would wait there in front of the old New Orleans International Trade Mart building. Uncle Fritz would drive downriver and pick her up to go home in Gentilly.

While Mama waited there, she noticed a young man handing out flyers. It was not unusual for people to hand out flyers in New Orleans at this time for all sorts of causes. She mostly studied him because there was something familiar about the way he looked. She felt like she knew him but couldn't quit place him. When the news came out that Lee Harvey Oswald had handed out pro-Castro flyers on the corner of Camp and Common Streets in summer of 1963, Mama realized why the young man had looked so familiar. He looked very much like his father did when he was her insurance man.