TNR‘s Literary Editor Leon Wieseltier’s ears must have been burning up last night. Well before he arrived to The Phillips Collection to give a talk on a John Constable oil painting, colleagues gabbed about what a character he is – a few mentioned, for example, his penchant for blasting music at the office. One day it’s Rihanna, the next it’s opera.
Leon doesn’t disappoint. He shows up and people magnetically gravitate toward him. Or was it his hair? He has a spectacular head of shoulder-length, silky, white-gold fluff that makes him a stand-out in any crowd, but especially this well-coiffed, stylish mix.
“I don’t want that on WikiLeaks,” he deadpanned after I snapped his picture.
Later during the talk: “It’s very hard to peel back the familiarity of the work,” he tells a rapt audience stuck on his every word. “It’s a spiritual exercise. When you can do it, great things happen.”
The talk was part of TNR’s co-hosted After 5 dim sum party at The Phillips Collection. Chinatown’s Ping Pong catered the delectable cuisine with shrimp toast among its offerings. Also there to give a talk was the magazine’s Art Critic Jed Perl.
Perl, in from Manhattan, in a tailored brown corduroy blazer and skinny pants, is no slouch alongside Wieseltier. He’s thankfully game to dissect The Devil Wears Prada. He wrote for Vogue in the 80s and reminisced with FishbowlDC about what it was like to be Anna Wintour‘s Art Editor. “She was easy to work with,” he said, explaining she could be shy, not snobby. Of Meryl Streep’s character in the movie, he says, “She doesn’t just play icy bitch. It’s more complex than that.” And so is Wintour. He said she understood him perfectly, is “incredibly smart” and knew his ideal place within the publication. He surmised, “I think she gets a bum rap because she’s a woman. I have a deep respect for her.”
Find out who else attended the party after the jump…