In October 2021, while in London, I went to a cocktail party hosted by a local bigwig gallerist Timothy Taylor to celebrate Honor Titus, an artist who that year had a solo exhibition at the gallery’s Frieze booth. Among the crowd of collectors and friends was the filmmaker Lena Dunhamwho married the musician Luis Felber a few days earlier – and it was Titus who acted as matchmaker between the two. A year later, before Titus’ first solo show opened at Taylor’s Mayfair Gallery, Dunham asked if she could reciprocate by speaking with Titus about his new work and the debutante balls that inspired him. . Take it, Lena!
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
I met Honor Titus by a swimming pool during the scorching days of our first pandemic summer. Meeting new people had become foreign, a novelty. But meeting Honor would be new, regardless of the influx of personalities – I was captivated by her wit, style and grace long before I saw her work or discovered her loyalty (or was introduced to my husband by him, but that’s another story). As well as becoming a trusted confidant, an essential adviser, a true blue pal, Honor has also become my favorite modern painter – the sly wink and romance of his line, the sweetness and cinematic hope of his subjects. . There is simply no one who paints desire like him, in a way that is both classic and profoundly modern. His last show Honor Titus: Bourgeoisie in Bloom, at the Timothy Taylor Gallery in London is his most ambitious and playful work to date, and I had the chance to hear him poetize about French painting, the influence of F. Scott Fitzgerald on his work and why we all owe it to BYOR (bring your own romance). –Lena Dunham
Vanity Lounge: I want to know, and that’s my only question, but how did you first meet?
Lena Dunham: We were introduced to the Sunset Tower pool. And I will never forget, I ordered mint tea, and then Honor very gently poured it for me. And I was like, “Oh, he’s a beautiful person, and I’m going to keep him.”
Honor Titus: Yeah. And then we hung out by the pool, and we chatted about literature.
Dunham: We talked about a lot of common reference points about books, music, and culture – it felt like we were raised on some of the same ideas, or fed on some of the same ideas. And I fell deeply in love with his work and just wanted to be in his orbit. For over two years now, it’s been a very special friendship.
Titus: And tons of fun.
Dunham: Tons of fun is also an important part. And he introduced me to my husband [Luis Felber]which is not nothing.
vanity lounge: This is not an easy task. It is quite important.
dunham: You owe someone lifetime on that one. If I didn’t love him already, I should. But it happens to me.
Titus: How is the boy? Quick, interrupt. I wanted to ask, how is Luis? Where is he ?
dunham: He loves life, he has just had his car overhauled, he has his album launch show on Monday. Yesterday, an acupuncture woman asked him almost angrily, “How are you so cool?” And it really is the story of his life. He’s a real chiller, which I’m not. So I’m really lucky that you introduced me to a chiller.
vanity lounge: Lena, you can take over now if you want to ask a few questions.
dunham: One of the things that I find most amazing is the fact that your paintings look like someone who has been painting since the age of three and has gone through all the typical art school channels. But I know you came to painting in a different way than a lot of people and at a different time. And so I was wondering if you could talk a bit about your journey to where you are and the pros and cons of doing it that way.
Titus: Funny enough, I was talking to Catherine Opie last night and she was talking about her technique as a photographer, and she says to her students, “I try to give them a great toolbox.” And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s really interesting because the way I came to paint, I build my toolbox almost in retrospect, almost. And I think for me that’s a big I come to paint from writing, I come to paint from music, and I just try to capture a feeling and portray a feeling.
And there are countless ways to do that, to capture those feelings. But I come from writing and music. Raymond Pettibon, he just took me to a studio and showed me these French writers, he showed me Céline. We talked about Nabokov, we talked about Jean Genet, and it was in this salon atmosphere that I approached painting where it was about ideas, feelings and emotions rather than evoked images. . I have just been truly blessed. I may not have Yale’s MFA, but I can construct touching images and charming images.