Izhar Patkin

  • Anne MacDonald in her Berlin apartment. Photo: Maureen Keefe and Michael Penhallow.
    passages October 26, 2018

    Anne MacDonald (1942–2018)

    MY FRIEND Anne Marie MacDonald passed away this month.

    I’m thinking out loud, speaking to her the way I would in the millions of emails we exchanged over the years. . . . Really Annie? Is this your idea of finally getting me to write for Artforum—your obituary? But then you’ve always waited patiently—maybe not so patiently—for me to come around.

    I first met Anne in 1986, when she exhibited the Black Paintings at Artspace in San Francisco. I think it was their second show and the curatorial debut of John McCarron. Gentle and brilliant John; she was so devoted to him. He was only


    I am not a writer. I am a painter. I can call a painting a “painting,” but I don’t really know about “literature” by artists. On the other hand, this magazine is called Artforum, so I’m in the forum, and I’ve got my toga on, and I’m ready to roll. . . Since an artist’s work and the ideas behind it usually come to the public via labels that do not speak the language of the creative process, perhaps an artist can be the best conduit for another artist’s ideas. This new series of visits between artists could give voice to ideas without becoming enslaved by formal, academic, or journalistic shopping lists. These are not the terms in which artists work, live, think, or talk to each other, and many times that’s how the story is missed. We work and talk in “real” terms: somewhere between “Where do you get that great ga-gagooey oil stick” and the desire to defy labels and to get on with the work.

    When Neil Jenney first presented his “Bad Paintings,” in the late ’60s, they were grouped under the annoying label “Funk Art,” primarily because of their look. We would never have understood Jenney’s intent without his own insistence that he was thinking of himself as part of an American realist tradition that stretches from the Hudson River School to Andy Warhol.

    Neil Jenney: I was stuck in a historical corner called “Funk Art,” which was a real entity in the ’60s, but the foundation of my contemporary expression was in abstract art. In those days hard edge was still far out. The New York School