New York Living Rooms


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Gathers photographs of living rooms belonging to such well-known New Yorkers as Ed Koch, Susan Sontag, Jimmy Breslin, Bill Blass, Norman Mailer, and the Rev. Al SharptonThe modest size, slender girth, and bookish typeface of this little volume will effectively put off readers who are looking for glitzy peeks into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. The more sober readers who are the target audience of New York Living Rooms should get the irony at once, and for them this book will provide hours of voyeuristic pleasure. Dominique Nabokov is a realist. Her artfully deadpan color photographs, empty of people, simply show what is there to see, without obvious slant. And yet this collection of more than 100 Polaroids somehow invokes the mix of New Yorkers–wealthy, brilliant, witty, powerful, stylish, artistic, neurotic, and/or beautiful people–that makes the city what it is. It is fascinating, for example, to see what a warm, cozy, plant-filled living room the pompous, pompadoured Reverend Al Sharpton possesses. There is a posthumous, two-picture tour of Allen Ginsberg’s poor but immaculate rooms; a shot of the magnificent Quentin Crisp’s monkish cell; and pictures of the two-story living rooms of Elizabeth Hardwick and Barbara Epstein, whose shelves in their respective Hotel des Artists apartments still have space for more books. Wow. There are Bierre Bergè’s velvet-covered digs at the Pierre Hotel; Mario Buatta’s gold-framed collection of springer spaniel portraits; Barbara Taylor Bradford’s cold but tchotchke’d sitting room. In the end it is Nabokov’s list–including former mayor Ed Koch, painter Louise Bourgeois, composer Philip Glass, Princess and Prince Alexander Romanoff, and Nabokov herself–that makes the book. These living rooms suggest the party of the century, if one could gather all the owners in one place. Julian Schnabel’s cavernous loft seems right. –Peggy Moorman