The Aardvark Blog
Sorrows and Joys - the human condition
Sorrows and Joys - the human condition
A couple of days ago I read a fantastic obituary for Richard Feigen the New York Art Dealer who died from the unmentionable disease a week or so ago. Feigen was the epitome of a wordly Jewish art dealer. I gave his wonderful book 'Tales from the Art Crypt' to my stepfather Martin who devoured it, and it was one of the books I took back when he died (I also snaffled a fantastic book on Klezmer which he also loved).
Having had a Jewish stepfather since my middle teens I have always felt a particular affinity with Jewish people and in particular with their incredible love of and promotion of culture of all kinds. Feigen wrote beautifully and I only wish that his trading activities had given him time to write more. In particular his pieces on the Barnes Foundation were like mini-operas with an extraordinary range of characters. Another example of a cultured New Yorker was Lincoln Kirstein whose memoir 'Mosaic' is not perhaps quite as well written as one would have hoped, but is absolutely packed with draw-dropping moments: how the young Kirstein and two friends introduced Harvard and Boston to modern art and invited both Alexander Calder and Buckminster Fuller to exhibit; and how he brought Balanchine to America and helped to set up the New York City Ballet (first based in of all places Hartford Conneticut).
My thoughts have been running on these lines for the last week since I received a wonderful letter from the writer Lee Langley in response to hearing the news of my mother's death. Lee's books including her wonderful 'A conversation on the Quai Voltaire' are all available from the invaluable bookshop.org although for some peculiar reason they do not stock her husband Theo Richmond's extraordinary book 'Konin: A Quest' which is about a lost Jewish village.
To return to Richard Feigen, many years ago I saw a documentary about an auction house in which Feigen was featured in one scene. He had just broken an auction record for a particular painter and after paying and picking up the painting rushed towards his car where he almost threw the painting onto the back seat. It was an extraordinary example of the grand manner, fully mitigated by the smiling way in which he made the gesture.
When not ruminating in this fashion I have been knee deep in processing some of the hundreds of second hand books I have bought over the last week or so. Tomorrow I have a house visit so rest assurred that notwithstanding the strange times we are going through, the work of Aardvark Books is continuing. I have a lovely small group of books on book binding and type which I just bought at auction, numerous good condition novels - literary and otherwise - and some 40 boxes of new books which I have purchased from an old friend sight unseen and which I am yet to open.
One final joy is that Ethel has finally received notification of her appointment for the vaccine jab on Saturday. You may ask whether the vaccine works on aardvarks, but apparently it does. Having been Ethel-free in the shop for nearly a year I cannot wait to see her back at my side!
And finally ... a really encouraging email from the Vice-Chair of Ludlow Food Festival. Nothing is certain yet but things are looking hopeful for an event in 2021. To go two years without the Marches' two amazing food festivals - incidentally the two leading food festivals in the whole country - would be too awful. Think tentatively about booking a trip this way. There are many great places to stay in and around Ludlow including my old friend Paul's extraordinary Cliffe Hotel.
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