I was invited to a fancy charity dinner in Paris, and was treated to a delicious feast of suave irony. It's not every day that I sip Dom Perignon with Jeff Koons and Laurent Fabius, paid for by a tax-exempt charity. The conversation went something like this:
Jeff: I love France, I love Versailles. They just did a show of my work. For centuries, people with wealth and power have bought the world's best art to show the world their excellent taste.
Laurent: We're so happy to invite our American friends to France. I come from a long family tradition of art dealers. In France, we support culture.
Silly rich person at our table: Jeff, which artist had the most influence on you?
Jeff: My favorite artist has always been Monet, or Manet, I mean Monet.
Me: I start howling with laughter. I am kicked in the shin by my partner.
Silly rich person at our table: I adore la France. My entire house in Dallas is decorated in French style. and Peter, what do you do, she asks, feigning interest.
Me: I work in privacy, and I'm bemused by Jeff's soft-porn art and the idea of an artist exposing his erection as a statement about what's private and what's public.
Laurent: Apologies, dear American friends, I must leave you now to speak with Assad. So vulgar, but his wife is charming.
Jeff: Apologies, too, I have to catch a flight with Francois to Venice tomorrow, he says, with an ah-shucks tone and a million-dollar smile that had all of us swoon.
Silly rich person at our table: I just loved them both! So down-to-earth! but, Peter, I think your comment about his nude art made him uncomfortable. Did he really show his private parts in his art? I'd like to see that.