JESS: Find someone who vaguely resembles me. Take him. Just don’t kiss him goodnight. RORY: That’s not going to work. JESS: Andy Warhol did it all the time.
Andy Warhol, born Andrew Warhola Jr (1928-1987), artist, film director, and producer who was a leading figure in the art movement known as Pop Art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, advertising, and celebrity culture that flourished by the 1960s, and span a variety of media.
I’m not completely sure what Jess is referring to here, except that Andy Warhol did have something of a “type” when it came to his lovers and muses, both male and female. If anyone has any more specific ideas, please write in!
LORELAI: Okay, then, it’s settled. We’re not staying at any place that wasn’t built for Napoleon the Third’s doctor or doesn’t have a Chagall in the bathroom.
Napoleon III, born Charles Napoléon Bonaparte (1808-1873) the first President of France from 1848 to 1852, and the last monarch of France as Emperor of the French from 1852 to 1870. A nephew of Napoleon I, he was a popular monarch who oversaw the modernisation of the French economy and filled Paris with new boulevards and parks. One of his doctors was the surgeon Félix-Hippolyte Larrey; he owned a small castle, but I have been unable to learn if he had a house built for him.
Marc Chagall [pictured], born Moishe Shagal (1887-1985), Russian-French artist. An early modernist, he was associated with several major artistic styles and created works in a wide range of artistic formats, including painting, drawings, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramics, tapestries and fine art prints.
PARIS: I knew that suggestion box was a bad idea. Watch Choate get Joan Didion while we’re being read “Eloise at the Plaza”.
Paris refers to Eloise: A Book for Precocious Grown-Ups, a 1955 book by Kay Thompson, illustrated by Hilary Knight. Originally marketed to adults, in 1969 it was released as a children’s book as Eloise, with no changes to the text or illustrations.
Eloise is a mischievous six-year-old girl who lives in the penthouse of the Plaza Hotel in New York City with her nanny, pet pug dog and pet turtle. Thompson based Eloise on an imaginary friend she had in childhood, although it has been speculated that her goddaughter Liza Minelli may have been a possible model. There are several books in the Eloise series, but Eloise never ages. In April 2003, a Disney television film was broadcast called Eloise at the Plaza, with Sofia Vassilieva in the title role.
A fan theory, which you may take with as many grains of salt as you wish, is that Louise was named after the character Eloise. I cannot think of any way that could be confirmed or denied, but it doesn’t seem that implausible. Louise and Eloise both have blonde hair, are rich and spoiled, rather bratty, and have unavailable, neglectful parents.
Kay Thompson died in 1998, so could not have been the commencement speaker, and famously hated her fans, so would be unlikely to agree to it anyway. Hilary Knight is still alive, but it doesn’t seem likely that he would have done it either.
LORELAI: Not as impressive as my mother making four green beans last an hour and a half …. When she finally got to the last bean, she cut it in six pieces. I swear, I thought Gran was gonna lunge across the table at her.
RORY: The student surpasses the master.
As far as I know, this comes from a quote attributed to the Renaissance artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci: “Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master”.
RICHARD: And this is our international contingent, Claude and Monique Clemenceau. They’re just in from France.
The Clemenceaus have been given the same surname as Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929), Prime Minister of France from 1906-1909, and again from 1917-1920, leading France through the end of World War I.
It is surely not a coincidence that Georges Clemenceau has a Connecticut connection. He fled France in 1865 due to involvement in radical politics during the regime of Napoleon III. He ended up teaching at a girl’s school in Stamford, Connecticut, where he fell in love with one of his students, Mary Plummer (1849-1922). They married in 1869 and moved to France a year later. They separated in 1876 and divorced in 1891, after which Clemenceau had Mary sent back to the US. From his time in the US, Clemenceau developed a strong faith in American democratic ideals.
Georges Clemenceau was a friend, biographer, and supporter of the famous French artist Claude Monet. Given Claude’s first name, this also does not seem like a coincidence. Notice that the name Monique sounds similar to Monet, as if both French guests have been named after the painter.
Claude is played by Michael des Barres, an English marquis, actor and rock singer. He played Murdoc in the original Macgyver and had a lead role in the show’s reboot, and replaced Robert Palmer in the band The Power Station, fronting the band at the 1985 Live Aid concert. He has had roles in numerous TV series and some films, including To Sir With Love, Pink Cadillac, and Mulholland Drive. A long-term campaigner against drug abuse, he is currently a radio host for Sirius XM.
Monique is played by Lydie Denier, a French-American model, singer, and actress. She has appeared in a few films and a number of TV programs, including General Hospital, Melrose Place, and Spin City.
EMILY: And then he’d talk about the paintings he had seen in Paris and the colors of Titian, and by the end of the date, you thought he was the most brilliant man in the entire world.
LORELAI: Using Titian to score. Even Titian didn’t do that.
Tiziano Vecelli, known in English as Titian (c.1489-1576), Italian painter of the Renaissance and considered the most important artist of the 16th century Venetian school. Titian was one of the most versatile of Italian painters, equally adept with portraits, landscape backgrounds, and mythological and religious subjects. His painting methods, particularly in the application and use of colour, exercised a profound influence not only on painters of the late Italian Renaissance, but on future generations of Western artists.
DARREN: Anyone know the artistic movement Matisse championed and referred to as the Wild Beasts?
JENNIFER: Oh, Fauvism!
Fauvism is the artistic style of les Fauves (“the wild beasts”), a group of early twentieth century modern artists whose works emphasised seemingly wild brush strokes and strong colours. Henri Matisse was one of the leaders of the movement.
LORELAI: So, that painting there, wow. The colors are so great, I can’t stop staring at it. It’s just beautiful.
DARREN: It is. It’s by a student of Matisse. I think he caught the master’s colors wonderfully.
Henri Matisse (1869-1954), French artist known for his intense use of colour and fluid, original draughtsmanship. He is commonly regarded as one of the leading figures of modern art.
From 1907 to 1911 he taught art at the Academie Matisse in Paris. Most of his pupils were American or Scandinavian. I have been unable to identify the painting shown as the work of any of his students, or to discover its provenance. If anyone knows what it is, please leave a comment!
DARREN: Modern painting is my passion. I’ve got a Hockney, a Kline – what I don’t have is a Diebenkorn so please don’t ask, “Where’s the Diebenkorn?” … I only recently got into sculpture. My latest acquisition, it’s a Zoltan Kemeny. Very provocative. Don’t you just love its audacity?
David Hockney (born 1937), English painter, draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer, and photographer. As an important contributor to the pop art movement of the 1960s, he is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century. Some of his paintings sell for tens of millions, and his 1972 Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) [pictured] sold at Christie’s for more than $90 million in 2018, briefly setting a world record for most expensive artwork by a living artist sold at auction.
Franz Kline (1910-1962), painter seen as one of the most important artists of the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1940s and 1950s. He was a member of the informal art group, the New York School, and his work has been revered since the 1950s. An untitled work from 1957 sold at Christie’s for more than $40 million in 2012, the record price for one of his works. The previous record holder was his 1958 Crow Dancer, selling for $6.4 million in 2005. Some early works of his sold for around $20 thousand in the 1990s (Darren may have picked up a bargain?).
Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993), painter and printmaker. His early work is associated with abstract expressionism and the Bay Area Figurative Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In the late 1960s he began his extensive series of geometric, lyrical abstract paintings. Known as the Ocean Park paintings, these were instrumental to his worldwide acclaim. Diebenkorn’s 1984 Ocean Park #126 became the most expensive picture by the artist auctioned when it went for $23.9 million at Christie’s New York in 2018.
Zoltan Kemeny (1907-1965), sculptor, painter, designer, and fashion editor born in Transylvania in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (present-day Romania). He is known for his relief sculptures and collages assembled from sand, stone, wood, twine, buttons, and beads.
PARIS: How are we going to get a professional photographer?
LOUISE: Helmut Newton is my godfather.
PARIS: Okay, sign him up – and tell him to leave the whips and chains at home.
Helmut Newton, born Helmut Neustädter (1920-2004), German-Australian fashion photographer whose black and white photographs were a mainstay of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and other magazines. His photos were erotic and stylised, often with fetishistic or sado-masochistic overtones – hence Paris’ instructions not to include whips and chains. Clearly Newton is not really appropriate as a school photographer!
It is interesting to speculate how Helmut Newton became Louise’s godfather. Presumably one or both of her parents have a connection with the fashion world. At this stage of his life, Helmut Newton lived in Monaco, but spent his winters in Los Angeles.