I don’t remember exactly when I met Warren, or how. It feels like I’ve always known him, which is as it should be, because the essence of his temperament is being known, and knowing others. Both pleasure and necessity have prompted him to develop a preternatural skill at networking.
It makes sense that everyone in the art world knows Warren, but how is it that his circle of acquaintance seems so much wider than that? In his case it’s as if the six degrees of separation that, according to urban folklore, connect us with all humanity have been reduced to no more than two. I remember once, years ago, being with him at an opening in Philadelphia. He had so many goodbyes to say at the end of the evening that we missed the chartered bus back to New York City. There wasn’t another train until four in the morning, so off we went looking for the bus station. As we wandered the unfamiliar streets in search of it, we happened to pass a station for the local commuter trains, and at that moment a woman stepped out and began to ask us for directions. Just as I was going to explain that we were strangers there ourselves and couldn’t help her, she turned to my friend and exclaimed, “Warren! Is that you? What are you doing here?” Wherever he goes, it seems, random people—faces in the crowd, passers in the night—recognize Warren.
But not only random people. Later, when I was living in London, Warren would visit periodically. Upon his arrival I would ask him if he had any plans for dinner, and he would usually say something like, “Ah, I might be meeting Nicholas” (Warren is on a strictly first-name-only basis with everyone he knows). “I’ll have to call him first and find out what’s going on.” It was up to me to divine whether the Nicholas to whom he was referring was Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, or Nicholas Logsdail, proprietor of the Lisson Gallery, London’s most distinguished commercial gallery. Sometimes geography gives the clue. In London the Marina he speaks of will be the writer Marina Warner, but in New York he must mean Marina Abramovic. (That Philadelphia opening was hers.) At least when he mentions Anish or Vito I can tell he’s talking about Kapoor and Acconci.
Being on a first-name basis with Warren may owe something to the difficulty people have pronouncing his surname, Niesluchowski. But although everyone knows him, and knows him as Warren, no one knows what he does. Mostly, he seems to drift through Europe and North America, turning up, Zelig-like, wherever something interesting is happening. He always travels by the cheapest means possible; what the bus ride from Warsaw to London is like I can’t say, but it doesn’t sound comfortable. Warren knows it well. Likewise, he is always turned out with incredible elegance in thrift-shop finds. Even his socks are snazzy. He’s welcome worldwide. No great event is complete without his presence. But he has no concrete role. He is not an artist, a critic or a curator, let alone a collector or dealer. Occasionally he accepts a commission as a translator, and these gigs seem to help him get by. He often mentions a “project” on which he is engaged with this or that artist, but it is usually hard to ascertain its nature, or what his role in it might be. He is, to all appearances, a lily of the valley; he neither sows nor reaps.