201 Las Vegas, NV: A Wild and Crazy Guy

It is funny that the somber Hopper should be so appealing to Martin, who made his fortune and reputation as a "wild and crazy guy." Martin felt in the 1970s, "every comedian is political, every joke is related to politics or war and everybody looks the same.... I went to a kind of absurdity.... It's almost like someone had to act stupid for everyone else. I was dying for their sins of seriousness."

A fan-related Web site pointed out similarities between Martin and Hopper. "(1) married at the age of 41; (2) raised in a strict Baptist home; (3) wife was often muse; (4) wife was often in love/hate rages with husband's controlling nature and overshadowing fame; (5) quoted poetry to his wife." The Web site also mentioned that Steve doesn't like attention drawn to him but failed to note that parallel with Hopper.

All of the paintings represented here from Martin's collection are museum-quality--except his first, James Gayle Tyler's Ship At Sea, bought in an L.A. antiques store. "I paid about seven hundred fifty dollars for it," Martin quipped, "and today, adjusted for inflation, it's worth about seven hundred fifty dollars." The other stuff was worth much more. Captain Upton's House was one of three paintings chosen to advertise the collection on the Web; the other two were Roy Lichtenstein's Ohh...Alright... and Pablo Picasso's Seated Woman. de Kooning, Hockney, and other museum regulars were also on display. He also kindly showed younger respected artists like April Gornick and Eric Fischl.

The collection was tinted with Martin's film milieu. One of Fischl's paintings was titled Truman Capote in Hollywood, and fellow actor and legitimate painter Martin Mull had a work on display. One of Cindy Sherman's many photographs meant to mimic film stills was here, and the subject of the film documentary Crumb, cartoonist Robert Crumb, had a drawing on display.

I assumed that Martin had more paintings than these. Annie Liebovitz's famous portrait of him has Steve in a white tuxedo painted with black lines to blend in with the large black-and-white Franz Kline painting on the living room wall behind him. I only realized after seeing this show: his Franz Kline.

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