LAWRENCE WESCHLER, a graduate of Cowell College of the University of California at Santa Cruz (1974), was for over twenty years (1981-2002), until his recent retirement, a staff writer at The New Yorker, where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies. He is a two-time winner of the George Polk Award (for Cultural Reporting in 1988 and Magazine Reporting in 1992) and was also a recipient of Lannan Literary Award (1998).
His books of political reportage include The Passion of Poland (1984); A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers (1990); and Calamities of Exile: Three Nonfiction Novellas (1998).
His “Passions and Wonders” series currently comprises Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin (1982); David Hockney’s Cameraworks (1984); Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder (1995); A Wanderer in the Perfect City: Selected Passion Pieces (1998) Boggs: A Comedy of Values (1999); Robert Irwin: Getty Garden (2002); Vermeer in Bosnia (2004); and now Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences (February 2006). Mr. Wilson was shortlisted for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Everything that Rises received the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticsm.
Fall 2008 is seeing the publication of three new works: a considerably expanded edition of Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, comprising thirty years of conversations with Robert Irwin; a companion volume, True to Life: Twenty Five Years of Conversation with David Hockney; and Tara Donovan, the catalog for the artist’s recent exhibition at Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art.
Weschler has taught, variously, at Princeton, Columbia, UCSC, Bard, Vassar, NYU, and Sarah Lawrence.
He is currently director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, where he has been a fellow since 1991, and from which base he is trying to start his own semiannual journal of writing and visual culture, Omnivore. He concurrently holds the position of artistic director of the Chicago Humanities Festival. He is also a contributing editor to McSweeney’s the Threepeeny Review, and TheVirginia Quarterly Review; curator at large of the DVD quarterly Wholphin; (recently retired) chair of the Sundance (formerly Soros) Documentary Film Fund; and director of the Ernst Toch Society, dedicated to the promulgation of the music of his grandfather, the noted Weimar emigre composer.
Once, happening upon a Portuguese edition of Weschler’s 1990 book on torture in Latin America during a photo opportunity in a Rio shopping mall, Chilean General Augusto Pinochet flipped through its pages for a few moments, whereupon he pronounced, “Lies, all lies. The author is a liar and a hypocrite.”