Art Was Celebrated--and So Was Art


The Scene: Thursday’s party hosted by the New Yorker magazine at Dennis Hopper’s house for contributing editor and artist Art Spiegelman. The cartoonist, who won a Pulitzer Prize special award for his Holocaust-based book “Maus,” has illustrated Joseph Moncure March’s 1928 novel-in-verse, “The Wild Party.”

Quoted: “I wanted to do something that was anti-’Maus,’ something antithetical,” said the chain-smoking Spiegelman. “Something that was erotic, something decorative. This has no redeeming social value. Its got a good beat and you can dance to it.”

Who Was There: Spiegelman, Hopper (wearing a black Fedora upon the head he shaved for “Waterworld”), and an eclectic, 200-strong crowd that included artists Ed Ruscha, Chuck Arnoldi, Robert Graham, Billy Al Bengston, George Herms and Ed Moses; actors Victoria Duffy (who lives with Hopper), Jennifer Tilly, Leonard Nimoy, Julie Delpy and Samantha Mathis; plus Roger Corman, Bruce Feldman, Doug Cramer, Richard and Betty Koshalek, Graham Nash, Dwight Yoakam, Angela Janklow and Matt Groening, who said: “If anyone in cartooning is actually making these messy doodles into art, it’s Art Spiegelman.”


The House: The two-story, windowless, sky-lit structure in a not-ready-for-gentrification part of Venice has a corrugated-steel facade. It was designed by architect Brian Murphy, who dubbed the style “paramilitary suburban.” Entry is through a sound stage/screening room that opens onto an art-filled gallery hall. Upstairs are the living quarters. Since the downstairs rooms connect through walls with roll-up garage doors (so art can be delivered by truck), it’s devised as a drive-through house.

The Art: This was the real star of the evening. The house is essentially an art gallery someone lives in. “It’s a shell to house art,” Murphy said. “Dennis is someone who does nothing in moderation and he collects art with the same passion.”

Observed: Hopper, looking admiringly at a wall of his art collection, said: “This has survived many divorces.”