Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Monday, October 30, 2006

New info on an old play - The Underpants

The Underpants has been staged around the world and now is in Britain. This article has some info that I haven't seen anywhere else.

The Times (London)
October 21, 2006, Saturday
FEATURES; The Knowledge; Pg. 20
Hmm, smells like a hit to me
Dominic Maxwell

As the comedy The Underpants opens, Dominic Maxwell has a brief encounter

Steve Martin's Underpants went down well in New York and Los Angeles. Down Under, though, it has become one of the highest-grossing plays in Australian history, even if the people in New Zealand angered him by messing around with the contents.

And now The Underpants -Martin's adaptation of a 1911 play by Carl Sternheim, which in previous translations has traded under names such as Knickers, The Trousers and The Giant, although Germans are most likely to know it as Die Hose - has finally made it to Britain. As befits the Off-Off-Broadway beginnings of a play commissioned in 2001 by the Classic Stage Company in East Village, New York, this satirical farce is about to open in a 60-seat pub theatre, the Old Red Lion.

Well, at least the adapter doesn't need the cash.

"I like the theatre because of the writing," Martin told The New York Times while promoting the first production in 2002. "There's a certain freedom as a writer to be tangential. A great passage in a play can be literate, can be beautiful, can be off-topic, can be so many things. A great line in a movie is usually 'Come on, let's go'."

Martin has written for the theatre before -he's currently working on a film of his 1993 play Picasso at the Lapin Agile, as well as several shorter pieces. He also has some previous as an adapter -rejigging Cyrano de Bergerac for his film Roxanne, Silas Marner for A Simple Twist of Fate. And while his recent big screen run suggests a desire to top up that modern art collection more than to tap in to the comic genius that gave us The Man With Two Brains and Bowfinger, the collected writing in his book Pure Drivel is a reminder of his peerless comic mind.

For Richard Braine, the new production's director, though, it was Sternheim first, Martin second. In Britain, Braine is best known for playing Gussie Fink Nottle opposite Fry and Laurie in Jeeves and Wooster, or as one of the nation's foremost sitcom vicars. In Germany he's the face of Dinkel-Mini, a snack that attained a profitable notoriety after, on take 49 of Braine's first TV commercial for the product, his female co-star bit into her 49th Dinkel-Mini of the day and projectile vomited 6ft across the room. The outtake was a hit on the German version of It'll Be Alright on the Night and Braine found himself making regular trips to Germany to film follow-up ads.

He'd seen some Sternheim plays out there and liked them enormously. But when he came home and read the existing English translations, he saw why a man who was one of the most performed playwrights in the world early last century was rarely staged in Britain. He mentioned this to Stephen Fry, who told him that Steve Martin had just done a translation. He saw his chance. And although at first the National Theatre beat him to acquiring the rights, earlier this year they decided not to stage the play. Braine could take Steve Martin -or is it Carl Sternheim? - to the Fringe.

"There are so many wonderful instances of Steve's wit alongside Sternheim," he says. "But I had a conversation with Steve about it, and although he spent about three months on his version, he insists that most of the good gags are already there in the original."

The play is set in 1910 Dusseldorf. Louise, the attractive but sexually starved young wife of a petty bureaucrat, drops her knickers as the Kaiser passes by one day. This is enough to win the affection of three passing men who become the couple's dodgy lodgers. But while in a saucy French farce nookie might abound, here the repressive husband ends up the champion.

The original was widely taken as a satire on the bourgeoisie. In adapting the show, though, Martin not only addressed the questionable depiction of the Jewish lodger Cohen, he also made it less a satire on bourgeois morality, more a dig at gender politics and a culture fixated on fame. "I don't see the bourgeoisie as a threat," Martin explained, "that's like something we did in the Sixties to be critical of 'the squares'. The bourgeoisie is us, it's both left and right."

For all of Martin's silver-haired seriousness -Braine confirms that, like many comic greats, Martin doesn't try to be funny in conversation -his name has led some casts to overdo it. "It is a romp, it is non-stop," says Braine, "but Steve said of one of the American productions that it was like watching six Steve Martins on stage."

Two of the Old Red Lion's shows this year have already transferred to the West End (Rabbit and The Vegemite Tales). If Braine's production moves on, he admits it will be his only chance of making any money from the show. It could also be the only chance of our seeing Steve Martin in the West End. But only if he sticks to the script: Braine says that when a New Zealand production did well and wanted to transfer to a bigger theatre, Martin refused them permission because they'd changed his ending. "He went absolutely bonkers about it." When the Sydney production was a success, though, Martin flew down to see the show, and apparently spent the next week riding around the city on a bicycle. Whatever debt he owes to Sternheim, he clearly feels as if he wears the underpants in this relationship.

"I did a bit of work on this play, so I'm proud to have my name on it," he told the New York Post on opening night in 2002. "Let's put it this way: I don't feel like I'm robbing the playwright."

The Underpants at the Old Red Lion, London EC1 (www. 020 7837 7816), from Tuesday
Thursday, October 12, 2006

View Steve video at

Steve recently hosted a chat with Chast at the New Yorker festival. you can see the video at

This is a nice new feature since no one can ever seem to get tickets without inside connections.
Sunday, October 08, 2006

Steve and girfriend at Opera and art

Steve and his girlfriend Anne Stringfield can be seen in a picture at the top of the page -- go check it out.
ArtForum Diary
A Night at the Opera
New York

Left: Dealer Larry Gagosian, artist Rachel Feinstein, curator Dodie Kazanjian, the New Yorker's Anne Stringfield, and Steve Martin, with artist John Currin in front. Right: Studio Museum director and chief curator Thelma Golden with artist Richard Prince. (All photos: Julie Skarratt)

On Thursday, I attended a cocktail party and dinner inaugurating a new contemporary-art gallery within the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center. The gallery is the felicitous brainchild of Peter Gelb, the new general manager of the Met. Gelb asked Dodie Kazanjian, editor at large for Vogue, to act as the Met’s curator at large for the gallery. She invited ten artists—Cecily Brown, George Condo, John Currin, Verne Dawson, Barnaby Furnas, Makiko Kudo, Wangechi Mutu, Richard Prince, David Salle, and Sophie von Hellermann—to submit artworks inspired by heroines from the six new productions that the Met is mounting this season. Christoph Willibald von Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice was the choice of Dawson, Furnas, and Mutu. I spent some time contemplating Dawson’s picture: Euridice beckons—more accurately, she points at—Orfeo from her netherworld domain on the sad side of an oddly sunlit River Styx, garbed in what looks like a customized version of the Scream costume. As she seems here rather like a flesh-eating zombie, I took her gesture to mean, “No! Go back. It’s just not going to work out,” which, in fact, it doesn’t, in both Gluck’s opera and the Greek myth on which it is based.

I quite liked Prince’s “Joke” painting apropos Madama Butterfly. The joke reads: “I went to the opera. It was Madame Butterfly. I fell asleep. When I woke up the music was by Klaus Nomi and Cio Cio San had turned into a lesbian and refused to commit suicide. It was a German ending.” Above and below the painted text, Prince has collaged hundreds of pornographic pictures of girl-on-girl hanky-panky. If only there were a contemporary composer as passionately vulgar as Puccini who could carry off the artist’s inspired revision of the all-too-well-known story. Richard Strauss, no stranger to operatic perviness, could have done so with élan. Die Äegyptische Helena, a lesser-known work by one of my favorite composers, was the choice of Currin and Salle. Currin represents a somewhat chunky Helena, her head thrown back in (orgasmic?) ecstasy. Salle’s large-scale painting, a good example of his recent “vortical” style, is also porn-oriented, featuring at its center, as far as I could ascertain, a ménage à trois between a man and two women. Queer theorists–cum–opera buffs beware: Salle and Prince's representations of sapphism are unmistakably heterosexist!

The event was exceedingly well attended: All of the artists save for Mutu, Kudo, and Hellerman were there, as well as numerous dealers, curators, and artists. The list is long, but I spotted Maurizio Cattelan—a close friend of Kazanjian’s who apparently acted as an unofficial advisor to the project—Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Jeff and Justine Koons, Chuck Close, Clarissa Dalrymple, Barbara Gladstone, Carol Greene, Neville Wakefield, Yvonne Force Villareal, Thelma Golden, Roland Augustine, and Larry Gagosian. I chatted with Rachel Feinstein, who was wearing an extremely pretty dress that she described as “vaginal japonisme,” I suppose referring to the large “pubic” pleat that ran down its center. An homage to Madama Butterfly, which opened the Met season the following Monday, I wondered? Many of these eminences were also at the dinner, held in the Met’s Opera Club. I was fortunate in my placement: Steve Martin was at my table. Surprise, surprise—Martin said many exceedingly witty things, but a rudimentary, one might say medullary sense of etiquette prevented me from pulling out a pad and writing them all down. Speeches by Kazanjian and Gelb were easier to listen to than speeches at events such as this usually are; for one, both erred on the side of relative brevity. Gelb gave Deitch an especially enthusiastic shout-out—“I would like to thank Jeffery Deitch and all the other dealers,” etc. Perhaps this comment did not sit too well with “all the others”; I did notice at least one prominent dealer shift uncomfortably in her seat, but possibly she was adjusting her hemline. Deitch later explained to me that Kazanjian is an old friend, and that she had asked him to be on the advisory committee for the gallery. He also recommended the fashionable South African architect Lindy Roy, who designed the modest but attractive and attractively understated (rather than annoyingly architectish) gallery, the entry to which is conveniently located on Lincoln Center Plaza.

It is perhaps churlish to find fault in any aspect of this otherwise charming and well-intentioned endeavor. Nonetheless, one wonders how much actual progress is to be made in bringing together contemporary art and fustian opera. Is opera somehow to ride the coattails of “wild” art and glamorous, or at least fashionable, artists? Simply hanging opera-inspired paintings in the gallery doesn’t go very far in bridging any sort of gap. Apparently, it is being considered that artworks exhibited in the gallery might be reproduced in the Opera's playbills, but beyond this modest proposal is the notion that in the future artists might design curtains and even stage sets. I’m certainly not an expert in operatic scenic design, but offhand I can’t think of many notable modern/contemporary art–opera synergisms. David Hockney’s sets for Ravel’s Les Enfants et les Sortilèges (a Met production, 1981) is the only one I can recall—very pretty. At best, perhaps the new gallery at the opera heralds future collaborations of similar brilliance.

—David Rimanelli

Thanks to RL
Saturday, October 07, 2006

2 Articles: Steve sells one of his Hoppers

Steve Martin's Moody Hopper to Be Offered by Sotheby's N.Y.
By Lindsay Pollock

Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Comedian and noted art collector Steve Martin is parting with a moody Edward Hopper painting that is likely to break auction records at Sotheby's Holdings in New York.

``Hotel Window,'' a 1955 painting of an elderly woman seated on a couch in a hotel lobby, is estimated to fetch up to $15 million. It will be sold as part of a Nov. 29 American painting sale.

``These pictures just don't change hands,'' said Seattle-based American art collector Barney Ebsworth, who owns Hopper's famous ``Chop Suey'' and said he is friendly with Martin. Ebsworth said that only 32 Hopper oils are in private hands, ``and the best ones haven't moved in 25 years. If anyone wants to own a great Hopper and they don't move on this, they might have to wait forever.''

The current Hopper record was set 16 years ago for the 1930 painting ``South Truro Church,'' sold at Sotheby's in New York for $2.42 million. In 2005, Christie's New York offered a large, awkward 1965 Hopper called ``Chair Car,'' which was bought by Berry-Hill Galleries for a record $14 million. The sale was later canceled.

Hoppers have sold privately in the $10 million to $15 million range, according to Dara Mitchell, Sotheby's director of American Paintings.

A 2001 exhibition of Martin's collection at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas included ``Hotel Window'' as well as Hopper's ``Captain Upton's House,'' a 1927 landscape with a lighthouse. Sotheby's did not disclose the seller's name.

Owned by Forbes

``Hotel Window'' claims a distinguished roster of previous owners. It was part of the famous Thyssen- Bornemisza collection and later sold to Malcolm Forbes, according to Sotheby's, for $1.32 million in 1987.

The painting was recently featured at the Whitney Museum of American Art's Edward Hopper exhibition.

``Hopper was concerned he was being left behind by the abstract artists of the 1950s and 1960s in New York,'' said Mitchell. ``What he didn't realize is how revered he was, and how influential he was.''

(Lindsay Pollock is author of ``The Girl with the Gallery,'' a history of the first modern art gallery in Greenwich Village to be published in November by PublicAffairs. She writes on the art market for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer of this story: Lindsay Pollock at
Last Updated: October 6, 2006 01:19 EDT


Inside Art
Edward Hopper Paintings Change at Whitney Show
Published: October 6, 2006


Until recently Edward Hopper’s “Hotel Window” (1955), a stark canvas showing a woman of a certain age sitting in an empty hotel lobby staring out the window, hung at the Whitney Museum of American Art as part of its Edward Hopper exhibition, on view until Dec. 3. “Hotel Window” was on loan from the actor Steve Martin.

On Monday the painting was replaced by “Nighthawks” (1942), Hopper’s well-known image of a diner at night, from the Art Institute of Chicago. It is shown alongside preliminary drawings for that painting from the Whitney’s permanent collection.

“We’d always planned this replacement,” said Barbara Haskell, a Whitney curator, who had also intended to make several other switches.

“The show has had an unusually long run,” she added. “And in many cases museums were unwilling to part with these key works for such a long period of time.” (The show opened on June 7.)

As a result three other works left the Whitney recently: “Morning in a City” (1944), from the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, Mass.; “Office at Night” (1940), from the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; and “Hotel Lobby” (1943), from the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Along with “Nighthawks,” the museum added “Cape Cod Evening” (1939), on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and “Cobb’s Barns and Distant Houses” (1930-33), a large painting from the Whitney’s collection. It has also hung a group of works on paper related to the show’s additions.

Meanwhile Mr. Martin’s “Hotel Window” will soon be on public view elsewhere in Manhattan, this time at Sotheby’s York Avenue headquarters, where it is to be auctioned at a sale of American paintings on Nov. 29.

Experts consider “Hotel Window,” one of Hopper’s late paintings, to be a prime example of his vision of solitude and human resilience. It is expected to sell for $10 million to $15 million.

While Sotheby’s lists many museums where the painting has been exhibited, it neglects to include the Bellagio Art Gallery in Las Vegas. “Hotel Window” and “Captain Upton’s House” — Hopper’s 1927 view of a white Victorian house perched on the rocky Maine coast with a lighthouse looming behind it — were part of a 2001 show there featuring 28 works by various artists in Mr. Martin’s collection The exhibition was accompanied by an audio tour narrated by Mr. Martin.

At the time Mr. Martin wrote that he was showing his art in Las Vegas because “it sounds like fun.” When asked this week why he was selling “Hotel Window” next month, his response was simply, “I needed the excitement.” He declined to be more specific.

The painting, which has been promised to a traveling Hopper exhibition next year at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the National Gallery of Art; and the Art Institute of Chicago, has an illustrious list of previous owners. In addition to having been in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, then in Lugano, Switzerland, it was owned by Andrew Crispo, the Manhattan dealer jailed in the 1980’s for tax evasion and, in a separate case, acquitted of charges that he had kidnapped and tortured a Norwegian art student.

Mr. Crispo sold the painting at Sotheby’s in 1987; Malcolm Forbes, the publishing magnate, bought it for $1.3 million. In 1999 the Forbes Collection sold it to Mr. Martin privately for around $10 million.


Steve Martin isn’t the only person with an itch to sell in today’s strong market. Visitors to Otto Naumann’s Manhattan gallery who are used to seeing not just old master paintings but also many of the actual objects found in 17th-century still lifes — silver-gilt cups, Chinese ceramics, Dutch earthenware, painted cabinets — will discover a far emptier environment. Mr. Naumann has decided to sell these objects along with paintings and drawings in a single-owner sale at Sotheby’s on Jan. 25. The sale is expected to total $2 million to $3 million.

Known primarily as a dealer in Dutch and Flemish canvases, Mr. Naumann said he had decided to branch out. “My new objective is to sell European old master paintings that include Italian, German, Spanish, French in addition to Dutch and Flemish,” he said.

Mr. Naumann, who is moving his home to Manhattan from Irvington, N.Y., has organized the sale catalog in different sections to appeal to young buyers who could acquire instant collections. One section is devoted to small cabinet paintings and a large group of drawings.

“To get the biggest bang for your buck it may be wise to consider drawings with questions of attribution,” he wrote in a catalog essay. “Included in this sale are several puzzles that I have been unable to solve, but that does not mean the new owner might not be more successful.”

The best mystery, he said, is who made the study of a woman that Mr. Naumann said he thought was done by the 17th-century Dutch artist Leendert van der Cooghen. It is estimated at $5,000 to $7,000.

Portions of the sale proceeds will go to the American Friends of the MauritsHuis, which supports that Dutch museum; the Committee of Friends of the Rembrandt Corpus; and the European paintings department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Since 1993 the Public Art Fund, the nonprofit organization that presents art around the city, has been creating exhibitions for MetroTech Center, the corporate complex in Downtown Brooklyn. Its latest installation, to be completed on Oct. 26, is called “The World Is Round.” It consists of new works by six young artists linked “by a common language, a universal message,” said Rochelle Steiner, director of the fund.

The artist Jacob Dyrenforth, from Brooklyn, created a sculpture depicting a rock concert moments before the show; Diana Guerrero-Maciá, from Chicago, made an installation spanning more than 70 feet that shows a flattened, giant soccer ball; Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg, a Canadian-born team, sculptured three cast-aluminum soapboxes; Matt Johnson, from Los Angeles, carved a three-ton boulder of Precambrian granite flecked with quartz veins that spell out “4eva”; and Ryan McGinness, from Manhattan, produced a set of signs that will be installed throughout the MetroTech commons.

“None of these artists are household names,” Ms. Steiner said. “We wanted to give young artists a platform to show their work in New York for an extended period of time.”
Thursday, October 05, 2006

Webcast of Steve's New Yorker appearance

Jon Stewart's back at this weekend's New Yorker Festival.

October 5, 2006 -- THE New Yorker Festival offers an opportunity to sidle up to today's leading writers, editors and humorists - and see what they look like when they get spit on.

The seventh annual weekend festival, which opens tomorrow night and comprises more than 50 events, will include an encore interview of Jon Stewart by New Yorker Editor David Remnick to benefit the U.S.O.

When he signed up for last year's chat with Stewart, Remnick says, "I didn't know people still did a spit take. But I asked him some idiotic questions, and I ended up with water all over my shirt." Which sounds less disturbing than another event, in which food writer Bill Buford "practically burned down a kitchen."

If only Stewart could have his spit takes ready for Buford's flames. Stewart and Buford, who will make lunch with Babbo chef Mario Batali, sold out their events quickly - the former in three minutes. A few events still have tickets available through, including best-selling writer Lawrence Wright's talk on al Qaeda, film critic Anthony Lane's take on Ava Gardner, several readings and the seemingly oxymoronic New Yorker dance party. (Are they doing the robot or just not used to exercise?)

Other talent on hand includes Pedro Almodovar, Nora Ephron, Zadie Smith, Tom Stoppard and cartoonist Roz Chast, who will field questions from part-time New Yorker writer Steve Martin. Chast and Martin are pals, says Remnick. "I think they met through The New Yorker." Now they're working together on a children's book about the alphabet.

Remnick says the festival (which is "much better," he says, than the similar program offered by The New York Times next weekend - your turn to throw down, Pinch!) is profitable and will be around at least as long as he is. "These things sell out at a rate that continues to astonish us," Remnick adds.

To deal with that, the magazine will for the first time present Webcasts on, though they won't be posted until next week. The Chast-Martin discussion will be streamed along with four other events, including Malcolm Gladwell's talk on secrets.

The festival extends the magazine's carefully nurtured brand, which is venturing in directions that might have disgruntled the editors Tom Wolfe dubbed "tiny mummies" in 1965. There's a new board game, for instance. Can a John Updike action figure be far behind?

"It's not a religion here," says Remnick, who personally approves every coaster and shower curtain. "It's meant to be fun as well as serious. So if there's a great cover and somebody makes a poster of it and it's done well, I don't see how that stuff stops us from breaking the Abu Ghraib story." The board game is based on a new feature that's already become an institution: the back-page cartoon caption contest, whose fans are delirious bordering on psychotic. Just ask Mike Bloomberg.

"Mayor Bloomberg came up to me once," Remnick recalls, "and he had a slightly accusatory look on his face, and I thought, 'Uh-oh.' He said, 'I keep sending in these cartoon captions and I never get in, and it's starting to p - - - me off.' "
Wednesday, October 04, 2006

He's made it there...
Steve Martin

Oct 1st, 2006 @ 11am

Steve Martin in dark sunglasses & baseball cap walking alone on 72nd Street Transverse looking dapper and happy in a natty suit and nearly translucent yellow rain coat that flapped behind him. He strode confidently down the center of the road.

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