More About Henry Geldzahler, His Rift With Warhol

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Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott (1969) by David Hockney

As a result of my post on Geldzahler earlier this week, a friend sent me this image of Henry Geldzahler and his boyfriend, Christopher Scott, which was painted by David Hockney. The two moved in together in 1965 and there is an interesting anecdote about how Geldzahler’s relationship with Andy Warhol changed once the art critic shacked up with Scott:

Andy had met Henry through Ivan Karp, art dealer Leo Castelli’s assistant. Geldzahler had just been made assistant curator for twentieth century American art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. They became friends, talking on the phone daily and going to dinners and parties together…Henry and Andy began to drift apart in 1965 when Henry and his boyfriend, Christopher Scott, moved in together.

Andy Warhol: “… there’s nothing more depressing than calling up somebody you’ve been calling up for years, any time of the day or night you felt like it, and suddenly someone else is answering the phone and saying ‘Yes, just a minute.’ It takes the fun out of it…I could only be really good friends with unattached people… if they’re married or living with somebody, I would just forget them, usually.”

Although they continued to speak on the phone “every other day or so,” Andy and Henry further drifted apart in June 1966 when Geldzahler was appointed the commissioner for the Venice Biennale and didn’t tell Warhol, who read about the appointment in the New York Times. He also didn’t use any of Andy’s paintings in the show. (source)

My instinct tells me that this probably had more to do with Warhol’s own internalized homophobia and his own inability to sustain sexual relationships of any kind.

In Hockney’s painting, Geldzahler comes across as overstuffed and pompous. Looking at the image you feel like you have been granted an audience with him even if inadvertently. The friend who sent me the image told me that he has heard gossip (from someone who knew Geldzahler) that the critic was nasty to Scott. I have to admit that if that’s the case (and I don’t know if it is), it comes through in this painting.

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