Giorgos Katsimbalis

George Katsimbalis

1899 (Athens) – 1978 (Athens)

Both Miller and Durrell were close friends. Miller described him as a colossus, and made him the subject of a book: Durrell (together with Miller) treasured their passionate discussions about literature and Greece, and later their collective correspondence. Seferis was a close friend and fellow force in Greek literature. The teenage Valaoritis had his work published by Katsimbalis in his journal ‘Ta Nea Grammata’, alongside established poets like Seferis and Elytis (whom he’d also encouraged). Stephanides, a close lasting friend, met him in the Greek artillery during WWl; Friar was another close friend.

Giorgos Katsimbalis knew…

Georges Hugnet

1906 (Paris) – 1974 (Paris)

Hugnet has flown rather under the radar, perhaps because of his multi-disciplinarity. Jacob was his hero as a writer — Hugnet’s downstairs neighbour introduced them. Duchamp, Picasso, Tzara, Man Ray and Cocteau all became friends. Miró knew him and illustrated his work. The expatriate composer Thomson introduced Stein to Hugnet: they collaborated intensively but then argued bitterly. Bellmer was another collaborator; Balthus a witness at his wedding. Tzara introduced him to Breton, who characteristically later expelled him from the Surrealist group for refusing to end his friendship with Éluard. Queneau (acting for the publisher Gallimard) and Picabia were among his correspondents.

Frank O’Hara

1926 (Baltimore, Md.) – 1966 (Long Island)

O’Hara met Gorey (a room-mate) and Ashbery while a student at Harvard. Koch, Schuyler and Guest were among the New York poets he mixed with. Rivers, his then lover, did drawings for his first volume of poetry; Krasner, Pollock, Rauschenberg, Johns, Porter, Katz, the de Koonings, Smith, Kline and Feldman were among other artists and musicians he knew socially, through his critical writings and his curatorial work at MoMA. He slighted and hurt Warhol. As well as Rivers, he collaborated with Hartigan (an intimate friend), Leslie and Brainard, and featured in work by Neel, Elaine de Kooning, Porter and Katz.

Fairfield Porter

1907 (Winnetka, Ill.) – 1975 (Southampton, N.Y.)

Whitehead and Benton taught him. Meeting his friend Willem de Kooning made him realise that the art theory he’d been taught wasn’t deep (Elaine de Kooning recommended him for his first job writing criticism.) He met Marin through a neighbour, and bought paintings by Marin from Stieglitz, to whom he introduced his photographer brother Eliot. Katz and Rivers were among the artists he knew and continued to learn from. Padgett, Koch, O’Hara, Guest, Rexroth, Ashbery and Schuyler were among his poet friends: Schuyler, after a brief fling, becoming the Porters’ house-guest for over a decade, and a lifelong friend.

Elaine de Kooning

1918 (New York) – 1989 (Southampton, N.Y.)

Willem de Kooning was her husband, though they lived long periods apart. At Black Mountain, she studied with Albers, performed with Cunningham, and with Johnson helped Fuller put up his first geodesic dome. She was among the first to write about Kline (who shared a house with the de Koonings for a summer) and about Rothko (whom she found witty and attractive). She wrote about Smith making a sculpture, as well as about Albers, Gorky and many other New York friends and colleagues. Porter drew her, and she him; she also painted O’Hara, while Baziotes passed on detective novels.

André Salmon

1881 (Paris) – 1969 (Sanary-sur-Mer)

He met Apollinaire, Jarry and Fort together in a Latin Quarter bar; then via them met Picasso, who immediately introduced him to his friend Jacob, the three becoming lasting friends. Mac Orlan, met in another bar, and Apollinaire both collaborated with him. Among the group congregating around Kisling’s studio, he became a friend and colleague of Chagall and Rousseau. Fargue, an old friend, paid Salmon to ghost for him when he was forbidden to publish during WWll. He helped support Péret and Radiguet among many others, and interviewed Unamuno just before the philosopher killed himself.

Denis Diderot

1713 (Langres, France) – 1784 (Paris)

D’Alembert co-edited his great project, the Encyclopédie; Grimm was his closest friend. Rousseau, Voltaire (who corresponded for 30 years), d’Holbach, Turgot and Montesquieu were the most noted of other contributors to the Encyclopédie. Rameau objected to its denigration of French music, and entered into a running argument with Diderot as well as Rousseau, who’d written the offending sections. Voltaire and d’Épinay were instrumental in getting Diderot’s imprisonment alleviated. Sterne, Hume, Marmontel, Helvétius and Sedaine were all good friends, while Greuze embodied his ideas of what of a painter should be.

Charles Baudelaire

1821 (Paris) – 1867 (Paris)

He belonged with Gautier, Nerval, Balzac and Delacroix to the Club des Hachichins, while staying more of an outsider. Manet (a close friend), Courbet and Nadar portrayed him. He wrote critical studies of his friends Hugo, Balzac, Nerval and Gautier. Delacroix inspired (and with Manet was subject of) his art criticism. He befriended and wrote about Jongkind, was on good terms with Liszt, wrote to Wagner (whom he admired), but never met Poe (whom he had translated and popularised). Banville and he quarreled over an actress, and in his last year Manet’s paintings surrounded him while friends played Wagner’s music.