Vanity Fair Teases Robert Hughes Memoir

In 1972, Time magazine's art critic enjoyed a dinner for the ages in Paris.

SpectacleofSkillCoverThe collection of writings and previously unpublished memoir chapters by former Time art critic Robert Hughes arrives Nov. 17. But thankfully, to whet the appetite, there is today one of the juiciest excerpts.

The heart of the matter involves a dinner date in 1972 at Paris restaurant Laurent. How the bill was accrued, and then handled, is a story for the ages. Hughes, who passed away in 2012, sets the broader tableau as follows:

Being the art critic of Time in the 70s was like enjoying a perpetual research grant from the most benign of foundations. I could go more or less anywhere I wanted, look at anything I wished to, and be paid generously for doing it.

It was a very different life to that lived by critics in the “Arts & Leisure” section of The New York Times, which, compared to my own relative indolence, was all arts and practically no leisure at all. For every word I published in Time, the chief art critics of The New York Times — John Canaday, who was succeeded by Hilton Kramer and John Russell — must have pumped out three or five.

In the introduction to the book excerpt, Vanity Fair remembers another Time employee nicknamed “42” because of their fondness for dining twice a day, on the company dime, at the 21 Club. Those were the days.

[Jacket cover courtesy: Knopf]