COLUMNS

  • Geta Brătescu, Mrs Oliver in her traveling costume, 1980/2012, black-and-white photograph, 15 x 15.5". Courtesy the artist, Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin, and Ivan Gallery.

    Geta Brătescu (1926-2018)

    IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO PICTURE Geta Brătescu and not see her in her studio (the occasional flashes of the traveling Lady Oliver aside). Not simply because the recent resurgence of interest in her work arrived at a time when her mobility was already reduced, a fact that kept her from personally presiding over the triumph of her long overdue Romanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale last year. Nor only because so much of her practice is thematically tied to the studio, with one of her most celebrated works—Atelierul (The Studio), 1978—quite literally enshrining its physical space against the

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  • From left: Nat Hentoff, Jules Feiffer, Alex Cockburn, Karen Durbin, and Joel Oppenheimer picket after Rupert Murdoch bought the paper in 1977. Photograph: © Sylvia Plachy.

    The Village Voice (1955–2018)

    THE DESTRUCTION OF THE VILLAGE VOICE—in the spirit of the paper itself, let’s not mince words about the nature of its ending—may not have been a surprise, but it was still a shock to the system. I myself was a latecomer to the publication, first hired as a pinch-hitter art critic in 2014, and then bumped up to art columnist in 2016. At that time, a new owner promised a new era, vowing to make the Voice great again, and we who worked there believed him. Few of us trusted the self-proclaimed savior, but we did somehow, perhaps a bit dumbly, have faith that the phoenix would inevitably rise from

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  • Cecil Taylor

    IN THE MID-1990S, I moved from Houston, Texas, to New York to study at the Manhattan School of Music. I routinely walked from Harlem to SoHo, walks that would basically take all day, and I’d make unplanned pit stops while learning the city. One of these walks was specific: Someone told me about a Cecil Taylor performance downtown. When I arrived at the intersection of Houston and Mercer, I saw a piano on a small stage in the middle of the street. An audience of about three hundred lined the sidewalk. I found are hydrant to stand on. Cecil began playing, growling and crying his way through the

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  • Photo: Annie Sprinkle.

    Fakir Musafar (1930–2018)

    A FEW DAYS AFTER FAKIR’S SPIRIT LEFT HIS BELOVED BODY, I went to a salon in a mall in Syracuse, New York, to get my hair dyed. Every one of the six stylists, all in their twenties and thirties, had multiple facial piercings, visible tattoos, and brightly colored hair. I marveled at how things had changed since the 1970s and 1980s, when the only kind of piercings one saw in the US were in women’s ears—and even those were rare, and tattooing was illegal in many places. I asked each of the colorfully adorned stylists if they knew anything about the history of modern-day body modification. Not one

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  • Aretha Franklin, ca. 1972. Photo: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy.

    Aretha Franklin (1942–2018)

    WHERE I LIVE NOW, Respekt! is what we say to express surprise, admiration, and, well, respect, for a person’s achievement. In my country of origin, in the 1970s, “Respect” was my infallible litmus test for culling those with whom friendship was possible from those who didn’t know who Aretha Franklin was, or who looked with distaste or condescension on her magisterial achievements, or who openly derided them as “jungle music.” Among those who passed that first test, those with whom friendship was likely had to either move to the beat spontaneously, or at least be willing to learn. That learning

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  • Antonio Dias (1944–2018)

    THE MORNING AFTER the opening of Antonio Dias’s 2009 retrospective at Daros, Zurich, the news broke that a fire in Rio had consumed the vast majority of Hélio Oiticica’s work. My second visit to the exhibition, one day later, was shot-through with a vivid sense of uneasiness and urgency. Dias and Oiticica were peers in one of the most defining moments of twentieth-century Brazilian art—the mid 1960s avant-garde that coalesced apropos of exhibitions such as “Opinião 65” and “Nova Objetividade Brasileira.” Yet no one knew what exactly had been lost forever to the flames. It was as if history was

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  • David Goldblatt (1930–2018)

    PERHAPS THE SUBJECT THAT DAVID GOLDBLATT MOST IDENTIFIED WITH was the Karoo desert, the Great and the Little, the desiccated stillness and the dusty roads that cross it. Farmlands Uitkyk, Bushmanland, Northern Cape, 27 June 2004, 2004, which he chose for the cover of the 2014 Steidl reissue of Regarding Intersections, was a sterling example of it, the kind of terrain Goldblatt privately called “fuck-all.” Was it the refusal embedded in these surfaces that induced him to stare so long, to dig so hard? Whatever the provocation, he was a photographer—and a person—who needed to get to the core of

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  • Sabina Ott. Photo: The artists’ estate and Aspect/Ratio Gallery.

    Sabina Ott (1955–2018)

    I FIRST MET SABINA OTT in the mid 1990s when she was making a series of large encaustic paintings that she titled Sub Rosa. They featured a mixture of geometric and cloudlike, decorative shapes arranged above slanting lines, suggesting an aerial viewpoint. Lone or paired alphabet letters were buried under the wax, but they didn't say anything. The paintings were triggered when she read Gertrude Stein—and they, or the idea, continued to grow until they were no longer paintings. Stripes of deep color leapt out of the frames and onto wood plinths, and eventually onto the walls of the gallery. As

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  • The damaged Mackintosh building.

    Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Building (1909–2018)

    THE NEWS THAT ONE OF SCOTLAND'S MOST TREASURED WORKS of historic architecture—Glasgow School of Art’s celebrated “Mackintosh Building”—had been gutted by fire on the evening of Friday, June 15, prompted an outpouring of collective grief on a scale rarely encountered outside the context of a state funeral. One after another, a stream of prominent local and national figures—politicians, artists, architects, academics, members of the School’s global population of distinguished alumni—stepped forward to record their sorrow, many of them describing the sense of loss they felt as having the force of

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  • Robert Indiana, The Metamorphosis of Norma Jean Mortenson, 1967, oil on canvas, 102 x 102".

    Robert Indiana (1928–2018)

    ROBERT INDIANA RODE THE WAVE of Pop art that engulfed the art world in the early 1960s. Drawing on the vernacular vocabulary of highway signs and roadside entertainments, he fashioned an art whose dazzlingly bold and visually kinetic surfaces radiated the ebullience of postwar America while simultaneously exposing the country's dark history of avarice, materialism, and racial injustice. His appropriation of the seemingly cheerful and reassuring language of mass advertising to communicate the failures of the American dream was spellbinding. By 1963, he was being heralded as one of the tastemakers

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  • Glenn Branca performing The Ascension at Bonds International Casino, New York City, in 1981. Left to right: Glenn Branca, Lee Ranaldo, Ned Sublette, Jeffrey Glenn, David Rosenbloom, Stefan Wischerth. Photo: Paula Court.

    Glenn Branca (1948–2018)

    MY CLOSEST MALE FRIENDS have always been musicians, and often Libras. Examples include Steve Reich and Glenn Branca. When I first met Glenn, we discovered we had a shared love for the Kinks and the novels of Philip K. Dick. I had the most fun with Glenn in quickly improvised collaborations. My first collaboration with him was when I asked him to score the 1981 Cologne exhibition “Westkunst.” The show's curator, Kasper König, asked me to do a short documentary segment that was for German TV. Kasper wanted me to do a section about the '70s that would feature my Homes for America photos. The film's

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  • Buster Cleveland, ART FOR UM, Vol.3, Issue 6, INTERACTIVE, 1996.

    Geoffrey Hendricks (1931–2018)

    A QUARTER CENTURY AGO, Buster Cleveland would drive me, in his yellow Mercedes, over to Geoff's townhouse and have me ask him if he wanted to “go for a ride.” I'm recalling that as our first exchange.

    Geoff brought more than I ever could have imagined into my world, as did I into his. Early memories: having me shave his head as a tribute to his dear friend Dick Higgins; illustrating one of Higgins's Danger Music scores. Or flying to Spain from London one winter holiday to visit my longtime friends and marveling at Geoff pick oranges to bring back to London and share with our loved ones.

    We made

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