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Popular Topics in The Arts
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In Memoriam
In Memoriam: Gray Foy (1922-2012)
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 12/02/12
Last updated on: 12/02/12
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Gray Foy, an artist who achieved an early reputation for his intricate drawings but later became best known as a fixture on the New York City social and cultural scene, especially during the 1960s and 1970s, died on November 23, 2012.

Margalit Fox in her obituary for Foy in the New York Times says that as a young man "Foy was renowned for two things: his ethereal beauty and his artistic promise. He drew as he lived, in minute, meticulously constructed abundance, and his work resembles that of no other artist."

According to Fox, Foy might spend as much as a year on a single pencil drawing, which might feature "massed forms that seem to rear up out of a shared shadowy past: human limbs and torsos, webs of twisted organic shapes that recall tree roots and leaves."

A 1942 drawing by Foy, "Dimensions," was recently donated to the Museum of Modern Art by actor Steve Martin.

After achieving early success as an artist, Foy was later best known as a "tastemaker, bon vivant, salonnier, partygoer, party-giver, genteel accumulator and perennial fixture of New York cultural life." He died "in the 3,500-square-foot, largely lilac-walled apartment in the Osborne, at 205 West 57th Street, where he had lived since the 1960s in congenial Victorian profusion."

Foy's career as an artist was ultimately eclipsed by the flamboyant social and domestic life he enjoyed with Leo Lerman, his companion of nearly half a century. The two "passed the years in a welter of dinner parties, holiday fetes, black-tie galas and opening nights. This heady whirl is recounted in The Grand Surprise (2007; edited by Stephen Pascal), the posthumous journals of Mr. Lerman, a writer and editor for Condé Nast publications who died in 1994."

The two men entertained such luminaries as Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, Leonard Bernstein, Paul Bowles, Maria Callas, Truman Capote, Carol Channing, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Aaron Copland, Marcel Duchamp, Margot Fonteyn, John Gielgud, Martha Graham, Cary Grant, Anaïs Nin, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Edith Sitwell, Susan Sontag, Virgil Thomson, and Anna May Wong.

More information about the salon presided over by Lerman and Foy may be found in a review of The Grand Surprise by Liesl Schillinger in the New York Times Book Review for April 22, 2007.

After Lerman's death, Foy continued "entertaining to the end of his life, giving parties for as many as 100 guests."

Foy married his second longtime companion, Joel Kay, in 2011. Kay is his only survivor.

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