Talk about a front row seat to history. Born in in 1924, he knew the 20th century. Personally.
Peggy Guggenheim, Andy Warhol, Picasso. And now, just after finishing his fourth and final volume of A Life of Picasso, he left the party.
His newest book John Richardson: At Home, was just published by Rizzoli. Of his decorating approach, Richardson says:
“Period rooms tend to bore me. The more historically correct that they are, the more museum-y they look. I like to mix things up so that they galvanise each other to life. I mix them all together—same as I do with my friends. The jumble works, at least for me, but then I’m a bit of jumble myself.”
Richardson worked as an industrial designer and as a reviewer for The New Observer. In 1952, he moved to Provence, where he became friends with Picasso and Léger. In 1960, he moved to New York and organized a nine-gallery Picasso retrospective. Christie’s then appointed him to open their U.S. office, which he ran for the next nine years. In 1973 he joined New York gallery M. Knoedler & Co., as vice president in charge of 19th- and 20th-century painting, and later became managing director of Artemis, a mutual fund specializing in works of art.
In 1980 he started devoting all his time to writing and working on his Picasso biography and he was also contributor to The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. (This is when I met him, when I worked for VF. He would often come into the art department and flirt. Hey, I was 22…)
In 2011, Richardson was awarded France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and in 2012 was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Richardson was in the process of curating an exhibition of Warhol’s society portraits for Gagosian in London, which is expected to open later this year.
John Richardson was 95.