PortraitA figure of the American intelligentsia, the author travels through time with the same verve that earned her the friendship of New York artists of the seventies. Nostalgic for those years, the younger generations flock to her conferences, where she distills her repartee against shrinks, yoga or country life. A collection of his chronicles appears in French.
She arrived a quarter of an hour early for our appointment. If she prides herself on knowing Manhattan like the back of her hand, the pandemic has reduced the crowds on the streets and blurred her bearings, she explains. Not very tall, rather stocky, she hobbles in her eternal brown cowboy boots, the fault of a foot injury that has been bothering her for weeks.
But Fran Lebowitz isn’t one to feel sorry for herself, even as she rails against the downsides of age – “I am 71 years, it’s been a long time since anyone asked me if I’m in good shape. It’s something you only ask about young people. » The meeting was held in the spectacular Rose Main Reading Room of the New York Public Library, “the largest reading room in the largest library in the largest city in the land”, said the New Yorker in 2016. Some 90 meters long, a ceiling painted with a huge cloudy sky, walls lined with reference works.
In front of the photographer, Fran Lebowitz poses obligingly, sheltered in her eternal uniform: cowboy boots, 501 jeans with turn-ups, suit jacket from Anderson and Sheppard – the Savile Row tailor in London, who dressed Marlene Dietrich, Fred Astaire and takes care of Prince Charles – a white shirt with cufflinks, black hair bobbed under the ears and tortoiseshell glasses on his nose. “I never liked having my picture taken, she slips. It’s boring and I don’t like being the object of that kind of attention. I appreciate being listened to, not looked at. The greatest quality for a photographer, in my opinion, is speed. »
Heroine of a series by Martin Scorsese
Fran Lebowitz has however been photographed by the greatest – Robert Mapplethorpe, Annie Leibovitz, Patrick Demarchelier, Brigitte Lacombe, Mario Sorrenti, Peter Hujar, Paolo Roversi. Consolidating its status as a symbol a little more. That of the New York disappeared from the 1970s, a time when the worlds of rock’n’roll, the underground, contemporary art and letters were mixed.
Fran Lebowitz is what we usually call “a woman of letters”. Except she doesn’t write. Or rather more. In 1978, the collection of texts Metropolitan Life makes him a small star of the New York intelligentsia. Another collection follows, Social Studies (1982). Both will be compiled in the book The Fran Lebowitz Reader, first published in 1994 and now translated into French under the title Think before you speak. Read before you think just released at Fayard. A children’s book, also in 1994, then nothing.
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