Sarah Bay Gachot

  • Robert Cumming in Corona del Mar, California, c. 1975. Photo: The Robert Cumming Archive.
    passages January 14, 2022

    Robert Cumming (1943–2021)

    YOU MIGHT THINK it would be difficult to photocopy your own obituary from a major US newspaper and mail it off to somebody. Yet Robert Cumming did just that in 2011. He sent me his 1995 obit from the Boston Globe—a quarter-page of real estate headlined “Robert Cumming, 67; Painter, Sculptor, and Art School Teacher,” with a photo of the artist giving a lecture in front of the chalk-drawn walls of his installation Blackboard Brain, a de facto three-dimensional portrait of his mind that was commissioned by the MIT List Center in 1993.

    I quickly sent him an e-mail: “Dear Robert, I was dismayed to