“It’s terribly … terrific,” said Pop Art icon James Rosenquist when asked how he was enjoying the party celebrating his new memoir, Painting Below Zero. “What do you think?”
The event was rather Factory-like, also held on Monday, Nov. 16, at the private Chelsea residence of Bad Boys II actress Alhia Chacoff and real-estate developer Harlan Berger, with soft reddish lighting.
An ironwork sculpture of five several-foot-long nails, created by co-host and artist Sheila Berger, Mr. Berger’s sister, hung above each of the two couches, and a large Baroque frame spilled autumn-colored silk flowers. A montage of Mr. Rosenquist’s work was projected against the main white wall of the living room.
“I had these pieces created for Jim,” said Ms. Chacoff, an angel-faced Latin bombshell who lingered over her s’s and hissed her th’s like Penélope Cruz. “They are replications of his work or pieces inspired by his work. I wanted to break them out into 3-D, off the canvas, make them interactive.”
“And will you keep them after the party?”
“We want to give at least one to Jim if he will take it.”
At that moment, the Transom became aware that two nude sculptures posed on a pedestal next to the bar, covered in metallic paint, were actually alive, as one blinked.
“You know, Jim was quite wild in his time, so we wanted to have a touch of that,” Ms. Chacoff said. “I was a little concerned to actually go with that at first, and they’re not doing much. But I think most people appreciate two beautiful female bodies.”
“I thought that was the kind of thing Obama was supposed to have outlawed, you know, stress positions and Guantánamo.” New Yorker writer Hendrik Hertzberg noted of the human sculptures, who moved only every 10 minutes and then only slightly,
Novelist and radio host Kurt Andersen was gathering courage to take a free book, though he said he wouldn’t ask Mr. Rosenquist to sign it. “I never do that,” he said. “Just general Nebraska embarrassment reasons … Oh! They’re going quickly; I better go get one.”
Actor Crispin Glover mouthed reverentially to Joel Grey across the bar, “I’m a big fan of your work.” Mr. Grey nodded solemnly in response, telling the Transom, of Mr. Rosenquist: “He’s a giant. I know friends of his and they wanted me to meet him today. He is totally charming.”
Mr. Glover, who played Rosenquist contemporary Andy Warhol in Oliver Stone’s The Doors, lingered near Mr. Rosenquist with a beret-topped model type in zippered tweed and heels that made her almost exactly double Mr. Grey’s height.
“I came here with Katie, who knows Jim from their hometown in Florida. Katie and I had gone to MoMA—MoMA, right?” he asked her. “And she had shown me some of his work and I thought it was excellent and I’m glad to be here.”