Good morning. It’s Thursday. Today we’ll find out what has happened to the studio in the West Village where the artist Roy Lichtenstein worked from the late 1980s until his death in 1997. We’ll also find out about how parking tickets figured in a court ruling on owning guns.
Dorothy Lichtenstein, the widow of the artist Roy Lichtenstein, in one of the new cubicles in his former studio. Credit…Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times
There are “traces of Roy that are all around,” the director of the Whitney Museum said.
The director, Adam Weinberg, was standing in what was once Roy Lichtenstein’s studio in the West Village. A few steps away, on the walls, were the racks that Lichtenstein designed to hold canvases while he worked on them — angled so that excess paint would drip onto the floor. Also nearby, Weinberg said, was “the sink that Roy used” to mix paints.
But that ultrautilitarian sink is on a different wall now. And the studio, so big that Lichtenstein and his wife once jogged there, has been subdivided, with clusters of cubicle-like spaces for artists.
Some of the cubicles are close to the walls, so no more jogging.
The new cubicle spaces will be filled by artists from the Whitney’s highly selective Independent Study Program, which nurtures the next generation of artists and for which Lichtenstein himself once led seminars. The building with the studio, where Lichtenstein and his wife lived, has been renovated and expanded for the program.
Weinberg noted that the work was completed in time for the Lichtenstein centenary tomorrow. The artist’s foundation is marking the occasion by publishing the comprehensive catalogue raisonné on Lichtenstein’s birthday, with detailed records on more than 5,500 recognized works.
Lichtenstein bought the building, originally a metalworking shop, in 1987 after he “fell in love with it,” his widow, Dorothy Lichtenstein, said on Tuesday. “It was the largest studio he ever had, a dream studio.” The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation used the building after his death, assembling archives and preparing the catalogue raisonné. Lichtenstein’s family gave the building to the Whitney last year.
Lichtenstein’s connection to the Whitney was cemented in the 1960s. His work was exhibited in the museum’s “A Decade of American Drawing, 1955-1965” in 1965 and in its annual exhibition of contemporary painting that year. Since then, the Lichtenstein Foundation has given the Whitney more than 400 Lichtensteins — paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures and photographs.
“What you’ll see is a constant reminder of Roy’s presence,” Weinberg said, looking around Lichtenstein’s former studio space. “If you go to historic studios,” he said, referring to the artists Frederic Church and Winslow Homer, “that’s about a re-creation. It’s more of a memorial.”
The Lichtenstein building, where artists and writers like Ellsworth Kelly and Julian Schnabel sometimes stopped by, does not feel like a landmark. Ruth Fine, the chair of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, standing next to Weinberg, piped up: “Roy wouldn’t have wanted it.”
Weinberg said that Lichtenstein’s former office would serve as the seminar room for the Independent Study Program. The Lichtensteins’ former living quarters on the second floor have been turned into space for meetings and research. An addition on the third floor created living space for an artist-in-residence.
Lichtenstein’s widow, walking through the building on Wednesday, said she could “feel the echoes.” Upstairs were familiar touches, like a railing from a French theater that somehow ended up in a Los Angeles junkyard. The Lichtensteins bought the railing and shipped it to New York, where they eventually installed it on the second floor of the building.
But their six-burner restaurant stove is no longer in the kitchen — probably just as well. “It burned the cabinet the first time I used it,” she said.
Expect a mostly sunny day with highs in the mid-70s. In the evening, it will be partly cloudy. Temperatures will drop to the low 60s.
In effect until Nov. 1 (All Saints’ Day).
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Traffic tickets and gun ownership
A federal judge ruled that traffic violations are no bar to owning a gun in New York City.
The decision means that the city may no longer be able to consider people’s moral character when they apply for firearms licenses.
The case involved Joseph Srour of Brooklyn, a man who twice applied to keep rifles, guns and shotguns at home for protection — and twice was rejected. The Police Department, the licensing agency for firearms in the city, cited his 28 driving violations, 24 driver’s license suspensions and six driver’s license revocations.
Srour appealed each denial. The appeals department of the Police Department’s License Division turned down both appeals.
Srour then filed a suit in federal court in the Southern District of New York, challenging the decision of the Police Department, which had based it on the city’s administrative code: A firearm permit could be denied if an applicant lacks “good moral character” or if there is “other good cause.”
Judge John Cronan — whom Trump, as president, nominated to the bench in 2019 — ruled that the department had used “broad and unrestrained” standards in Srour’s case.
“Because that unconstitutional exercise of discretion occurs every time a licensing official applies or has applied these provisions, they each are facially unconstitutional,” he wrote, referring to the “good moral character” condition cited by the Police Department.
Judge Cronan also wrote that the notices the department sent Srour after rejecting his applications were not “models of clarity in explaining the precise legal grounds for denying his applications to possess firearms” and reflected “unfettered discretion.”
“Without doubt, the very notions of ‘good moral character’ and ‘good cause’ are inherently exceedingly broad and discretionary,” he wrote. “Someone may be deemed to have good moral character by one person, yet a very morally flawed character by another.”
My colleague Maria Cramer writes that Judge Cronan’s ruling was among the latest to stem from a Supreme Court decision, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which overturned longstanding state gun regulations and said that citizens had a broad right to carry concealed weapons. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has heard repeated challenges to the New York law, reinstating it after lower courts struck down key portions.
The Police Department referred a request for comment on Judge Cronan’s ruling to the city’s law department. “Firearm licensing regulations crafted by the state and the city are lawful, consistent with the court’s decision in Bruen, and necessary to keep the public safe,” the city said in a statement.
I was dining with a friend at a French restaurant on the Upper East Side in the early 1990s.
As we sat at a table toward the front near the bar, the pianist André Watts, dressed casually but elegantly, came in and approached the hostess, who was talking with another customer.
I was a longtime admirer and recognized him immediately. While he waited, he turned his gaze in our direction.
I smiled and mimed playing a piano keyboard.
He responded by raising his eyebrows, jutting his chin in my direction and copying my pantomime, as if to ask whether I, too, was a pianist.
I shook my head and mimed playing classical guitar. He nodded in approval.
Then, as the hostess escorted him to his table, he waved in our direction and our brief encounter was over.
— Mark Shechtman
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.
Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — J.B.
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.
Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].