I went to New York just over a week ago, a few days after Elizabeth Taylor’s death. Those of you who know me know how much the latter event has affected me. (My site portrait was taken before this happened, btw.) My partner Derek and I hosted a wake; our relationship has in many respects been defined by a mutual admiration of Liz, especially the Mrs. Burton/obscure-European-pseudo-art-film-star/shrew Liz. (An early date involved renting her 1974 film Identikit a.k.a. The Driver’s Seat; we recently hosted a private screening series of this and other “Lizploitation” films in our attic.) I took the above photograph in Chelsea on the afternoon of March 26, at Chisholm Larsson poster gallery, which had erected a shrine of sorts. Many who passed by stopped to pay their respects.
While in New York I went on a gallery-going spree with Jon Davies. Highlights: “German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse” at MoMA, about which I will write for Canadian Art‘s website in the coming weeks; David Altmejd at Andrea Rosen, about which I’ve already done so (with a Liz lede); Stan Douglas at David Zwirner; and Mark Morrisroe at Artists Space (full of the late artist’s Liz love, including a faux-Q&A in his Dirt zine.)
But more on Liz. Aside from the exquisite news that Liz had a) stipulated in her will that she be buried with the last love letter Richard Burton ever wrote to her; and b) also stipulated that her corpse be delivered to the funeral service fifteen minutes late, the internet has provided some unique commemoration opportunities. Salon got Camille Paglia on the horn for a characteristic tirade. CBS posted this vintage interview with the ebullient Burtons about fighting. Tumblr has given us this. (See left.) This week, her nude portrait at twenty-four years old emerged, but was soon revealed to be a fake. (The Daily Mail claimed it was taken by Roddy McDowall, whose own purported nude portrait may be found here.) Taylor’s Twitter feed was lamentably ended by a plug for her lamentable last interview with the lamentable Kim Kardashian, though, as my friends Rea McNamara and Daniel Shusterman were keen to point out, if you look past this tweet, and the previous one anticipating it, you will find ten tweets in a row, from July 22, 2010, that constitute a poetic, moving goodbye.
I am happy to announce that Derek and I will be hosting a special screening of one of Liz’s greatest films, Joseph Losey’s Boom! (1968)—hailed by John Waters as “the ultimate failed art film” (and by “”failed,” of course, he means “triumphant”)—at the Drake Hotel as part of their “Movies in the Mess Hall” series May 1. The event will include a special Lizploitation sizzle reel. More on this shortly in Events.
To conclude, I bring you one of Liz’s last great works. Hardly dignified, but then she was never one to go gentle, not least, evidently, into that good night—