Richard Hell

Richard Hell as Nick Detroit in John Holmstrom’s photo story “The Legend of Nick Detroit,” Punk 6 (October 1976). Photo: © Roberta Bayley.

“I DO NOT REPUDIATE any of my paintings,” Henri Matisse once wrote, “but there is not one of them that I would not redo differently, if I had it to redo.” Once a painting is out of the artist’s hands, of course, the opportunity to rework it rarely presents itself—though Pierre Bonnard is said to have carried a little paint box with him during museum visits in case he felt the need to revise one of his canvases on the spot. Prose writers and poets, on the other hand, more readily revisit their earlier efforts (not always happily, as the onslaughts of Marianne Moore and W. H. Auden against some of their younger works show). And music tends to be a still different story. Composers in the European classical tradition can worry at their published scores the way some poets do with their poems, and of course performers can repeatedly record different versions of the same scores.

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