Opening Hours

The GLUCKSMAN Little Interview

This week we hear from Dr. Nicholas Fox Weber, Board member at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery and Executive Director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.


Nicholas Fox Weber: 12 June 2015

I am thrilled to be this week's subject for the Little Interview, and adore Fiona Kearney's (Glucksman Director) suggestion that I "respond (without much thinking!)". That's easy for me, because, after receiving an Honorary Doctorate from UCC this past Friday, I am too ebullient to think a lot. Brevity, of course, would require thinking, so I am taking advantage of her advice as an excuse to ramble happily. You will see that one of the interview questions is "guilty pleasure?"; writing without self-editing is one of mine.

What are you reading?
​My most enjoyable reading has been emails from old friends, voices not heard from for a long time, because Fiona sent out the generous encomium she read when I received my Doctorate. My friends' responses have been some of the most pleasurable correspondence ever. ​In addition, because I am a narcissist, I enjoy reading Irish newspapers because they have hilarious pictures of me in cap and gown with some of my marvelous family members. There is also Charlie Chaplin's Last Dance, an exquisite novel, translated from the Italian, which I recently picked up entirely by chance at a bookstore in Milan, because it was one of about five books they had in English. It is lively and poetic and intelligent, and I am glad I knew nothing about it in advance, because the reviews, which I have recently read online, are stuffy and constipated and in no way do it justice. But I urge anyone who has stayed with my answer to here to read any novel by Richard Mason, surely one of the most brilliant novelists of our era; if you have an Ipad, get the ELume of his History of a Pleasure Seeker. It is as rich as it is flawless, highly spirited, and very sexy while epitomizing good taste and real style.

Favourite museum?
The Glucksman. I also love the Prado and the National Galleries of London and Washington, for the incredible masterpieces inside them, but no museum fills me with the sheer sense of joy I feel whenever I walk into the Glucksman.​

Best performance?
When I was nine years old--which is to say in 1956--my parents took me to see the great acting pair Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontaine in what had been announced as their last performance before retirement. Few of you have heard of them today, but Lunt and Fontaine were a husband-wife stage pair of unequaled grace and charm. I remember my mother saying that I might not understand the play, but that she wanted me, lifelong, to be able to say I had seen the remarkable duo live. The play was The Great Sebastiens, ​and it was performed in an old-fashioned Broadway theater; for a kid from Connecticut, just going to New York, let alone such a theater, was a major event. As I looked at both Lunt and Fontaine, I realized that the human smile is the most intoxicating sight in the world. Never before had I felt such charm or understood the meaning of lightness and wit. Throughout the performance, I had the feeling that each of them was looking at me directly, saying one pithy line after another to entertain me alone. I imagine everyone in the theater felt that way.
About a year ago, I mentioned this to Doug Hughes, a wonderful stage director who was then working at The Gate. His parents were well-known Irish American actors. A few days after our dinner together in Dublin, he sent me his parents' Playbill of The Great Sebastiens. It was one of the most touching gifts I have ever received.
I love this question ​. I t has brought me back to such rich sources of joy in my life: my parents' flare for living, the wonder of good repartee and human seductiveness, the beauty of true friendship.

What is your most treasured possession?
​My own body. I do not mean to sound obnoxious here, but my body is what enables me to see and to get from A to B and to experience the wonder of being on this world and possibly doing some good for others.

What work(s) of art inspire you?
Art Tatum playing the piano; his lightness and combination of discipline and freedom are a model for almost anything one does. Two weeks ago, I rediscovered Picasso, and everything in the Picasso Museum in Paris was inspiring as an expression of engagement with living. The courage and vitality of Picasso is easy to forget, somehow, and seeing the actual work inspired me both because the art is so rich and animated and because it reminded me not to trust my own opinions.

A lightbulb moment?
I was playing tennis once, about a decade ago, feeling guilty that I was on a tennis court at 9 a.m. on a workday, when, in between backhands and forehands, I suddenly realized what my next book should be. I had been asking myself this question for months, without coming up with the answer. I don't know if I won or lost the point, but by the end of the rally I knew that I wanted to do a group biography of some of the great artistic pioneers at the Bauhaus. I wrote it, happily. Based on recent reviews of the French edition, which just came out, it was a good idea.

Guilty pleasure?
I still feel truly guilty that I was happy when, at about age ten, I saw my friend Ricky, who was always cool and never ever cried, fall in such a way that the point of a pencil in his pocket went into his thigh. He did not cry cry, but I saw tears in his eyes, and was relieved to witness the vulnerability in a person whose lack of emotion I envied.

What would you like to be doing right now?
​Having more questions from Fiona Kearney, who always inspires me.​

Previous Little Interviews

Mathilda Burgess, Transition Year, 29 May 2015
Laurence Davis, Lecturer, UCC,
22 May 2015
Jools Gilson, Artist and Lecturer, UCC,
15 May 2015
Brian Crotty, artist,
8 May 2015
Chris Clarke, Senior Curator, Glucksman,
1 May 2015
Brendan Bracken, Transition Year,
24 April 2015
Angela Fulcher, artist,
17 April 2015
Karis Medina and Sam McCune, Josef and Anni Albers Foundation,
3 and 10 April 2015
Gemma Kearney, Artist and Glucksman technician,
27 March 2015
Martin O'Connor, Librarian, UCC,
20 March 2015
Gavin Murphy, artist,
13 March 2015
Elly Collins, UCC student,
6 March 2015
Orla Murphy, Lecturer, UCC,
27 February 2015
Killian O'Dwyer, CCAD student,
20 February 2015
Stuart McLaughlin, Google,
13 February 2015
Ann Ramsden, artist,
6 February 2015
Aideen Quirke, UCC Student
, 23 January 2015
Alan Phelan, artist
16 January 2015