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Subject: Richard Bernstein, Who Created Covers for Interview Magazine

dead of AIDS
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Date Posted: November 03, 2002 2:41:25 EDT

Richard F. Bernstein, whose colorful portraits of celebrities appeared on the cover of Andy Warhol's Interview magazine and helped set its glamorous tone, died on Oct. 18 at his home in Manhattan. He was 62.

The cause was complications of AIDS, said Lester Glassner, a friend.

Sometimes confused with Warhol's own work, Mr. Bernstein's portraits of stars like Cher, Ali MacGraw, Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallone captured the glittering excess of the disco era. Embellishing photographs with pencils, airbrush and pastels, he gave his subjects an idealized glow that was intensified by the large format of the magazine.

"Richard Bernstein portrays stars," wrote Paloma Picasso in her introduction to "Megastar," a 1984 collection of Interview covers. "He celebrates their faces, he gives them larger-than-fiction size. He puts wit into the beauties, fantasy into the rich, depth into the glamorous and adds instant patina to newcomers."

People magazine offered more matter-of-fact praise, noting that in Mr. Bernstein's portrait of her, "Lily Tomlin on the telephone is as pretty as a model, and yet she still looks like Lily Tomlin."

Mr. Bernstein was a longtime member of the Warhol circle. In the early 1960's, he moved into the Chelsea Hotel, which became the home of Edie Sedgwick and other Warhol superstars.

In the 70's, he mingled with the Warhol group and the fashionable crowd at clubs like Studio 54.

Mr. Bernstein created more than 120 portraits for Interview; they appeared for 15 years, starting in 1972.

He also did covers for Time magazine and for albums by the singer Grace Jones; stamp designs for the United Nations; and a portrait of Robert F. Kennedy for the Kennedy Library.

At the time of his death, he was preparing for a Zurich exhibition of his work based on computer imagery.

Richard Frederick Bernstein was born on Oct. 31, 1939, in the Bronx, and graduated from Pratt Institute. He is survived by his companion, Toby Rabiner; his brother, David, of New York City; and his sister, Ellen Trifon, of Westchester.

Like Andy Warhol, Mr. Bernstein loved Hollywood and the fantasies and images it created. He was particularly enamored of the musicals of Esther Williams, seeing their aquatic production numbers as examples of an enchanted reality. It was this surreal quality that he tried to capture in his own art.

"Richard Bernstein's faces are wonderful," Warhol once said, adding, "They're so colorful, and he makes everyone look so famous."

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