THE LEGACY ART OF BORISLAV BOGDANOVICH
My father wasn’t much of a talker but he taught me so much by example. Because he painted at our apartment in New York, I was surrounded by composition and color all through my young life, and he started taking me to galleries and museums by the time I was five. Also to movies—older movies, like the silents he had grown up with – and new ones too. And the opera. And books he referred to, classical music he listened to all the time; and when I was fifteen and they brought a piano into the apartment, the extraordinary way he himself played, as though he were composing the music, one with it. All these things had a profound impact on me; as I wrote in the dedication to one of my books, it was my father “whose work and whose attitude to art influenced more than words can express.”
As a person, he had enormous elegance and carried himself with great dignity. People would turn around on the street, wondering who he was, because he looked like someone important. Never appeared in public without a tie and hat, and gloves often—an Old World gentleman always. He had a wicked, Slavic sense of humor—which means that tales of larceny amused him—and sexual peccadillos; when he swore, it was usually in Serbo-Croatian, and that language shares with other Slavic tongues the most extravagant blasphemies. He was habitually preoccupied by distant thoughts or, as my mother used to say, he was “always painting”. It was sometimes difficult to get him to focus on prosaic details, like where the next dollar was coming from. Yet when an emergency came up, somehow he would rise to the occasion and solve things swiftly, easily.
He was enormously encouraging to young artists, and encyclopedic in his knowledge of painting, sculpture, and music, and had an eye to match: He could spot a fake from across the room, as well as to call who the artist was from an equal distance. He started telling me stories in bed when I was around three, and so vividly that I still remember a few of them. But I never really got to know him well, I’m afraid. He and my mother never got over the accidental death of their first son at the age of one and a half. Neither of them could speak of this tragedy without choking up. I think I only saw him cry twice: when Franklin Roosevelt died, and when he heard that his mother in Yugoslavia passed away. He had a difficult life, but kept his sense of humor to the end. I miss him.