Monday, March 12, 2012

Kay and Me

It started with a photograph.  I have in my collection a book, acquired years ago, titled The Decorative Twenties. In this book was--is--a photograph of a living room in a New York City apartment.  It was, in this young Long Island boy's eye and mind at least, the epitome of art deco style and elegance, and I thought, someday  I will have an apartment in Manhattan with a living room like that.” And that was it; I never, over the course of several decades, paid any attention whatsoever to the who, what, where or when...

Flash forward twenty years, and I am working at an art and architecture non-profit (which shall forever remain nameless in these pages) in Manhattan.  

David Garrard Lowe, whose book Art Deco New York has recently been published, presents an illustrated lecture.  And, don't you know it... there's that photograph of that living room I know and love from my book!  So Mr. Lowe tells us that this is the living room in the Joseph Urban-designed apartment of the writer Katharine Brush.  

I confess that the name Joseph Urban didn't really mean anything to me at the time (more on him later), but I made note of the name Katharine Brush, and thought, I wonder if her books are any good...they might be worth a look.

I then discovered that Brush had written the novel upon which the movie Red-Headed Woman had been based.  I of course was familiar with the picture and had seen it.  It is, as I mentioned previously, a classic of pre-code Hollywood; I felt as though I already knew Katharine Brush...

Since I was so familiar with Red-Headed Woman, I figured it best to start with a different Brush novel, something that would be entirely new to me.  I decided on Young Man of Manhattan, from 1929.  Halfway through it I was hooked. 

Young Woman of Manhattan:
Katharine Brush
By the way, I did get the apartment in Manhattan...

but the living room looks nothing like I had planned.

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