Push Your Good Luck
I’ve lived in a kind of cultural isolation. I was away from America; I was away from my generation. I only met them in a very highly privileged way. I met my colleagues when they’d come through Italy, and then we become very close, those four-day romances or when people were traveling, it’s the highlight of their trip. I had so many letters starting “Thank you and Bill, you were the highlight of our trip.” We have a file called ‘The highlight of our trip’. But it gave us — it gave me in particular, access to some of the really important artists of our time, because I didn’t meet them where they were working. I met them when they came from a show or they were doing traveling.
So, that I got the very best of it, so that the people I knew were — they were very caring, I was very lucky. I wasn’t threatening, because I was far away from the turf, so they could be much more generous. And I also was lucky, because I had a good gallery practically from day one, because the Marlborough opened a, what do you call it, a gallery in Rome in 1965, I think it was, and it turned out that one of the partners of the Marlborough had bought a sculpture from that show I mentioned, that Carandente, this man who organized whatever festival, had seen the show. So, he was particularly interested in me, and wanted me to join the Marlborough.
Well, I was a completely unknown, but it was — Rome, in terms of the art world, was the sticks, and it made me — gave me access to all the Marlborough galleries and the Marlborough artists, and I had an extremely successful show in 1965, I think, it was in the Marlborough. And then in the 60s — other shows, but in 1969 I had my first New York Marlborough show, and I had arrived full-blown unknown in New York, except for the people I said were good friends, and they were very important friends, because they were all people who had reputations.1 But I had this — the show of polished stainless steel, and every sculpture in the show was sold to a museum. It was an extraordinary experience.
And I then joined the New York Marlborough, and that’s — what happens in life, is you have to learn to push your good luck. That I think and being born in Brooklyn helps you learn. There was a man that — Leo Lerman, one of the editors of Vogue Magazine, was doing an article. And his article was “How did you get over the bridge?” And it was all the people who got over the bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan. And nowadays, Brooklyn is a center, a cultural center, but those days it was a cultural desert, and it was interesting how people got over the bridge. And one of the ways I got over the bridge was listening, asking questions and not taking anything for granted.