Wednesday 26 September 2012

"Steve Martin's Love of Art"

One of my all-time favorite movie scenes is of Steve Martin, in L.A. Story, standing in front of a blah-nothing-fence-painter's canvas in an art gallery and describing it to his friends as a panorama of erotic intensity, before the camera pulls back to show the painting for what it really is. 

(My apologies to the artist, who I'm sure has more talent in his little finger than I have in my entire... etc.

The following video consists of Rita Braver conducting an interview with Steve Martin, inside New York's Whitney Museum, talking about his real-life experiences as an art collector and as a novelist who had just published the book An Object of Beauty, which tells a story of ambition and deceit in the New York art scene.  

The video includes a few clips from L.A. Story which illustrate the part imagination plays in the true appreciation of art. (But not the fence painter's scene. Sorry.)

Well, okay then, you don't have to push. Here's the extract of that scene from the screenplay of L.A. Story.

          I like the relationships: each character has its 
          own story.  I mean, the puppy is a little too much

          but sometimes you have to overlook things like that.  
          But the way he's holding her! ... It's almost filthy.  
          He's about to kiss her, she's pulling away a little
          ... the way his leg is smashed up against her.  And 
          look how nicely he painted her blouse, kind of 
          loose, transparent; you can see her breast under 
          it touching him about here ...
                          (he indicates)
It's pretty torrid.  And look at the people
peeking from the doorways all shocked.  They wish.

When I see a painting like this, I must admit,

I get a little ... well let's just say ... uh

... emotionally ... erect.

We see the painting he's talking about. It's a big ten-by-twenty-foot canvas that is solid pink.

In this interview there are the usual Steve Martin bon mots, including the following perfect description of writing: 
"There's finding the idea, there's finding the words for it, and then there's finding the exact words for it."


Kathy said...

Now I know why you are such an ardent fan of Steve Martin, Henry.

Anonymous said...

Great post, loved it!