Whitney to Toast Writer Calvin Tomkins

Writer Calvin Tomkins. (Photo: The New Yorker)

The Whitney Museum has announced that it will fête New Yorker writer Calvin Tomkins at its annual gala, which will be held on Oct. 5 on Pier 57 along the Hudson River, west of Chelsea.

Over the course of about a half century on the job, Mr. Tomkins has interviewed seemingly every major art world figure of his time, from Marcel Duchamp to Maurizio Cattelan. Below, The Observer presents below our five favorite profiles by the indefatigable writer. (A New Yorker subscription is required to read some of these pieces.)

5. Artist Maurizio Cattelan
“Few artists have been so full of self-doubt, or used it so fearlessly.”
“The Prankster,” October 4, 2004

4. Art Dealer Ileana Sonnabend
“One summer afternoon on the beach in East Hampton, de Kooning started to harangue Leo again about opening a gallery, and for once Ileana spoke up. ‘I think that Leo will open a gallery,’ she said, ‘and that you won’t be one of his artists.’ De Kooning wanted to know why not. Ileana explained that she thought Leo would want to be involved with what was coming up, not with what was already established.”
“An Eye for the New,” January 17, 2000

3. Socialites Gerald and Sara Murphy
“Gerald’s Celtic good looks; his beautiful clothes, which would have seemed a trifle too elegant if anyone else had worn them; his perfectionist attention to subtle gradations of feeling—these sometimes acted as a barrier to intimacy, so much so that Fitzgerald once accused him of “keeping people away with charm.”
“Living Well Is The Best Revenge,” July 28, 1962

2. Art Dealer Jeffrey Deitch
“Jeffrey Deitch’s apartment looks about right for a graduate student. He lives alone in two small rooms in a high-rise building in the West Sixties. There is no art on the walls, no prints or photographs–nothing.”
“A Fool for Art,” November 12, 2007

1. Artist Marcel Duchamp
“It is curious to find at the center of this adulation a man as serenely unself-conscious, as offhand and off guard, as cordial, and as free of any taint of mystification as Marcel Duchamp.”
“Not Seen And/Or Less Seen,” February 6, 1965

Whitney to Toast Writer Calvin Tomkins