Ingrid Sischy: An Appreciation
Photograph by Gasper Tringale.
As the art and fashion worlds mourn the loss of a beloved original, Vanity Fair’s Editor recalls Sischy’s genius for mixing the pleasure of friendship with the business of truth-telling.
Ingrid Sischy, the writer and critic, died today in New York. It was sudden, but also not so sudden. She had been under the care of the legendary oncologist Dr. Larry Norton at a New York hospital for some years. Her health was up and down, but her spirit and her work ethic remained heroically steady. Not once did I ever hear her complain about the fate she had been dealt. Or even talk about it much. She just got on with things. There were so many aspects of her character to admire, but I found her saucy, cheerful stoicism to be highly attractive.
Ingrid became part of the Vanity Fair family nearly two decades ago, back in the days when my fortunes at the magazine were more than a little wobbly. She was coming off a long career in art criticism, writing for her pal Bob Gottlieb at The New Yorker, and I will tell you that with her by my side, my future seemed a lot rosier. She could write about anything, but what interested her most were art and fashion, and she traversed those two hothouses like a bemused empress. She had a crisp mind and an almost uncanny focus when she sat down to write. She was a fun, conspiratorial gossip, but never with malice or envy—the working tools of so many gossips. That conspiratorial manner was evident in her work life as well. I adored cooking up stories with her. I was a sucker for her pitches and I could tell that her editors at Vanity Fair, Bruce Handy and Doug Stumpf, were as well. When she wasn’t producing nuanced, beautifully written pieces for Vanity Fair, she jumped back and forth between the U.S. and Europe, working for Jonathan Newhouse as a sort of international ambassador for the Italian, French, and Spanish editions of this magazine.