5+5: Kurt Andersen. Novelist. Sophisticate. Radio Savant.
Today’s 5+5 selections come from polymath and particularly swell human being Kurt Andersen. Kurt is living proof that the most interesting people are the ones who are omnivorous in their own interests and pursue them with gusto.
Kurt’s written several books, is the host of the eclectic and ever-engaging Studio 360, and was the founding editor of the still-relevant Spy magazine. (Wouldn’t it be grand if that magazine was still around to critique the electoral antics of a certain short-fingered vulgarian?
I first met Kurt a couple of years ago at a dinner arranged by the magical Lauren Cerand. Joining us were Lauren herself and Kurt’s equally impressive clan: his incredibly accomplished, warm and wonderful wife Anne Kraemer and their daughters, Kate + Lucy. (The future’s gonna be all right if it’s in the hands of kids like those two.)
As you might imagine, that meal was pretty amazing. It’s never a bad thing to have an opportunity to break bread with a long-time idol, and even better still to do so in the context of the aforementioned idol being a fan of your work. Which… just, wow! I wish I could climb back through time and tell younger me that this was gonna happen.
That this evening happened while we were in the thick of reviving 20x200 after months of agonizing uncertainty was just the validation I needed to continue to push forward. I’ll be forever grateful to the Andersen clan for being the source of such encouragement. Seriously, so many thanks and thanks again to Kurt for sharing his selections with us today too. (Anne, I’m coming for you next!) – Jen + 20x200
5 Perfect Picks
3) 195 Yachts, Barges, Cargo Lines, Tankers, and Other Ships, by Jenny Odell
Love aerial views and cartography. Also: chaotic orderliness.
5) Theoline, Pier 11, East River, Manhattan, by Berenice Abbott
Antique picture of a magnificent object that was antique when this photograph was made. Perfect and unfamiliar modern-ish Manhattan image. Also: chaotic orderliness.
5 Q's + 5 A's
1) What's your favorite museum?
The Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum is one of my top favorites. (Not because I'm on the board: I'm on the board because it is.) Best things about it are its modest size, repurposed-mansion-ness, recent expansion and modernization, and (in America) singular purview.
2) Most coveted coffee table book?
The Four Books on Architecture by Andrea Palladio. Extraordinary and influential when first published; physically extraordinary modern editions; birthday gift from a beloved friend.
3) Do you prefer a single statement piece or a salon wall?
I refuse to make that choice. Depends on the room. So: one of each, please.
4) You've got $5m to spend on one piece of art. What would it be?
Maybe a Whistler nocturne.
5) You've interviewed so many artworld luminaries in your career. Give us the inside scoop on one of your most memorable interviews.
When I was young I discovered and loved Cape Light, the first book of Joel Meyerowitz's photographs, which meant I always regarded him as a maker of pretty images of nature. Shortly after the September 11th attacks, I heard that he was chronicling the World Trade Center ruins and their removal, which fascinated me. After we booked him to come on Studio 360 to talk about the project, I discovered how insanely limited my knowledge of him had been -- I'd known nothing of his ground-breaking black-and-white street photography in the 1960s. So, not much of an inside scoop, but definitely an example of Why I Like My Radio Job: after spending days immersed in the whole, remarkable 40-year range of his work, by the time he arrived at the studio I was a major fan, we talked for twice as long as scheduled, and became pals.
The 411 on Kurt Andersen
KURT ANDERSEN is the author of three critically acclaimed novels, most recently True Believers, as well as the prize-winning New York Times bestseller Heyday and the national bestseller Turn of the Century. His non-fiction books include Reset and The Real Thing. He also writes for television and the theater. In addition, he's host and co-creator of Studio 360, the Peabody Award-winning public radio program, and a regular contributor to The New York Times and Vanity Fair. Previously, he was a cultural writer for The New Yorker and Time, served as editor-in-chief and a columnist for New York magazine, and co-founded Spy. He graduated from Harvard College and received an honorary doctorate from the Rhode Island School of Design. He serves on the boards of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum and Pratt Institute. He lives with his wife Anne Kreamer in Brooklyn.