The great Jori Finkel does a profile the Hammer’s Lawren Harris show which got its start when Ann Philbin had dinner at Steve Martin’s house and first discovered the artist:
Ms. Philbin, the Hammer’s director, […] spotted a small painting during a dinner party at Mr. Martin’s home three years ago. “It was a view of trees with a lake behind it, an ordinary subject, but it had a very animated presence, very stylized, almost cartoonish, and I don’t mean that in a pejorative way,” she said. “It was fantastic, so I asked who did it. Steve said Lawren Harris, and I said, ‘Who’s that?’ ”
It took a few more months — and a visit to Montreal, where she saw more of the painter’s work — before Ms. Philbin came up with the idea of asking Mr. Martin to organize a show. (His only prior connection to the museum had been a tribute he once delivered there to Cindy Sherman, an ex-girlfriend.)
“My initial reaction was, ‘Of course not,’ ” Mr. Martin recalled. But the idea grew on him. “It didn’t feel like dilettantism to me. I’ve loved the work for so long. And a loving curator is an asset to an artist, probably.”
Philbin wasn’t the only one unfamiliar with Harris’s appeal:
Mr. Martin expressed disappointment that the Metropolitan Museum of Art had passed on the show. “I really wanted to have a venue in New York, but I’m very happy the show is going to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts,” he said.
Steve Martin Adds ‘Curator’ to His Wild and Crazy Résumé (The New York Times)