Callas Kissed Me…Lenny Too!

By John Gruen

$ 29.95

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ISBN: 9781576874240

By John Gruen

Art History / Gay Dalliances / Memoir
Hardcover
7 x 9.5 inches
376 pages
100 four-color and black-and-white photographs
ISBN: 978-1-57687-424-0

By John Gruen

Art History / Gay Dalliances / Memoir
Hardcover
7 x 9.5 inches
376 pages
100 four-color and black-and-white photographs
ISBN: 978-1-57687-424-0

From his extraordinary beginnings—his mother went into labor
while gambling at a French casino—to escaping Nazi Germany,
Fascist Italy, and ultimately hoping to conquer New York City,
John Gruen writes a subtly revealing self-portrait in Callas Kissed
Me…Lenny Too!

As a boy unable to speak a single word of English, Gruen was
determined to make a successful life for himself in America.
Anxious to know what his adopted country was truly about, he
ventured to the Midwest to attend the University of Iowa, where
he emerged, five years later, as a more-or-less Americanized
graduate student on his way to a PhD scholarship to the
prestigious Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, and as
the 20-year-old husband of ravishing fellow student and painter
Jane Wilson. The story of the Gruens’ life in New York City,
from the 1950s to the present, explores a complex marriage
and two parallel journeys of artistic growth. Gruen worked as a
composer, photographer, and journalist; Wilson developed as a
distinguished painter, though often supported the two with work
as a fashion model.

Life was always on the move for the couple. Though hardly well-connected
and certainly not wealthy, the Gruens knew everyone
during their many years in the artistic milieu of which they were
an active part. From the many apartments they occupied in
New York City to the countless dinner parties, nights at the
Cedar bar, and weekends at their Hamptons barn, their life
was a nonstop social whirlwind. There were chance encounters
with Salvador Dalí, evenings spent pretending to be Chekhov
characters at home with E.E. Cummings and Marion Morehouse,
working vacations to Italy with the Leonard Bernsteins, and
a long working visit to Gian Carlo Menotti’s baronial Scottish
estate. Their ever-expanding circle of acquaintances and
friends also included Rudolf Nureyev, Maria Callas, Willem De
Kooning, Francis Bacon, Judy Garland, Tennessee Williams,
Bette Davis, Samuel Beckett, Lucien Freud, Andy Warhol, Robert
Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and so many others. It was all
quite head-spinning, at times producing hugely complicated
situations, but throughout it all, John Gruen and Jane Wilson
built successful careers based on hard work and a steady
conviction that life should be lived to the fullest.

John Gruen has written for The New York Herald Tribune and
The New York Times. He was the chief art critic for New York
magazine
, an arts columnist for Vogue, contributing editor
to ArtNews, writer for Architectural Digest, and senior editor
at Dance Magazine. He has previously written 15 books,
including biographies on conductor/composer Leonard
Bernstein, composer Gian Carlo Menotti, dancer Erik Bruhn,
and artist Keith Haring. He is also a published photographer
who has exhibited widely and authored two photography
books, Facing the Artist (Prestel, 1999) and The Sixties: Young
in the Hamptons (Charta, 2006). Three hundred of his artist
portraits are in the permanent collection of the Whitney
Museum of American Art. Gruen and wife Jane Wilson live in
New York City and Water Mill, NY. Their daughter, Julia Gruen,
is the Executive Director of the Keith Haring Foundation.

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