About Irving Ned Landesman
Landesman was born in St. Louis in 1919 the youngest of four children. His father was an immigrant artist from Berlin who came to St. Louis to paint the murals for the German pavilion at the 1904 World's Fair. Jay grew up near the Central West End were his mother ran an antique shop while his father painted murals for the W.P.A.. He attended the University of Missouri in 1938 and 1939.
During the 1940's Landesman was a partner in the Landesman Galleries , the family antique business in St. Louis. On buying trips to New York he discovered the bohemian culture of Greenwich Village and brought some of it back to St. Louis were he was part owner of Little Bohemia, a downtown saloon popular with the literary and artistic residents of St. Louis. In 1948 he started Neurotica, a quarterly magazine which analyzed Post War culture from a neurotic point of view. Landesman and his magazine moved to New York in 1949, where he published an astounding number of writers and thinkers who became the shapers of intellectual thought in the fifties and sixties: Marshall McLuhan, Lawrence Durrell, Kenneth Patchen, Anatole Broyard, Allen Ginsberg, Leonard Bernstein, Carl Solomon, Judith Malina, Gershon Legman, Chandler Broussard, Peter Viereck, and artists Larry Rivers and William Steig. Landesman was a highly visible figure in Bohemian New York social and cultural circles, at the center of the group which challenged personal and artistic values: Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, William Burroughs and John Clellon Holmes. Critic Kenneth Rexroth called Landesman "the founder of the Beat Generation."
In 1950 Landesman married Fran Deitsch, the rebellious daughter of a wealthy scion of the New York fashion industry. He soon realized that "you couldn't stay married and make it in New York." So in 1951 he and Fran to St. Louis to help with the Landesman Galleries.
"Jay Landesman, a writer and editor whose journal Neurotica analyzed the anxieties of postwar America and whose Broadway musical, “The Nervous Set,” has been called the first (and only) Beat musical, died on Feb. 20 at his home in London. He was 91."
""The Jaybird," Cosmo Landesman told a cousin Monday, "has gone to a better place."
Perhaps, although some reasonably may doubt a man such as Jay Landesman, who gave energetic meaning to the term bon vivant, would agree with the uncharacteristically sentimental remark of his son, Cosmo.
Nevertheless, former St. Louisan Jay Landesman -- playwright, producer, writer, aquilifer of the artistic-sexual-intellectual avant garde, editor of the magazine "Neurotica," a friend or acquaintance of everyone from Jack Kerouac to the late Princess Margaret, hipster, quipster and emeritus wizard of Gaslight Square -- died Sunday morning at home in London. He was 91.
The cousin, Rocco Landesman, now chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, noted that his uncle was the last remaining of the four children of the late Benjamin and Beatrice Landesman. Benjamin Landesman came to the United States to paint murals in a pavilion of the 1904 World's Fair and established the family as an artistic presence here."