“[Set designer Boris Aronson and I] sat in the Russian Tea Room talking the world away—how it is even past the Decline and now in the Fall. I said that when the theater died in its own place and took to the streets (as it has here—the theater in the streets is fantastic; the novels in the daily papers are extraordinary…), when this happened, revolution and war are inevitable. Boris agreed…
“He had been to view the Picasso sculptures and found them surface things. Everything in the arts today, Boris feels, is surface, since nothing is the outcome of greatness.
“Today is a decorator’s time.” — Leo Lerman, 1967
The Grand Surprise—The Journals of Leo Lerman, ed. Stephen Pascal (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007), 292.
Top: John Koch, The Cocktail Party, 1956. Leo Lerman is in foreground, facing Ania Dorfmann, the pianist. Virgil Thomson is to Lerman’s immediate right.
Above: During his brief, nine-month stint as editor-in-chief, writers—for the first and last time—were cover subjects of Vanity Fair. Shown here: Philip Roth and Francine du Plessix Gray.
Below: Maureen Stapleton, Lerman, and Julie Harris at the Algonquin Hotel in 1971.