COLUMNS

  • David Beitzel. Photo: Patrick McMullan.

    David Beitzel (1958–2019)

    I NEARLY ALWAYS SAW David Beitzel in a dark-blue suit and tie, as if he came from the world of banking or investments. But David was no stuffed shirt. A painter turned art dealer, he had just set up his first gallery in a storefront on Greene Street when I first met him, around 1989. Only three years later he moved to the second floor of 102 Prince Street and was showing a full roster of promising and established artists. His vision for the gallery clearly developed out of his early experiences as a painter at Bennington College, where he had lived and worked largely in solitude during his MFA

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  • Joseph Jarman. Photo: Roberto Masotti / ECM Records.

    Joseph Jarman (1937–2019)

    I FIRST MET JOSEPH JARMAN in 1961 after returning to Chicago from a tour of duty with the United States Army Band in Heidelberg, Germany. The two of us became acquainted while we were both under the tutelage of Richard Wang, Lela Hanmer, and Otto Jelinek at Wilson Junior College. Our peers at Wilson at that time included Malachi Favors, Henry Threadgill, Anthony Braxton, and Jack DeJohnette.

    It made a profound impression on me to all of a sudden be surrounded by these daring musical minds, and I drew inspiration from Joseph from the moment we met. I was able to experience his revelations firsthand

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  • ROBERT MORRIS

    ROBERT MORRIS has said that his work is a form of “investigation.” During the 1960s and ’70s, the period of Minimal, post-Minimal, and Conceptual art, he devoted attention to processes of mind and body—to making, perceiving, and knowing. He sometimes turned to models from science and technology, although he explained that his efforts were born of a desire to disprove rather than prove: to push systems in ways that exposed their lies. In his critical writing, he examined new developments in sculpture with clinical precision. Later, drawing from his early work even as he appeared to reject it,

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  • ROBERT MORRIS

    OH DEAR BOB . . . your death is unacceptable. Your absence joins the current stampede of death, diminishing the continued conversations among my generation. Missing in action. I am so grateful for our wonderfully enriching history and for the configuration of friends and work that surrounds the years we shared. We were neighbors here in the Hudson Valley, and it’s wrenching to consider that we cannot anticipate more good times together.

    #pullquote The fact is that Site remains a visionary, transformative event that forever reshaped references to historic imagery.#

    I wanted you to know that taking

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  • ROBERT MORRIS

    DEAR BOB,

    I’m writing at my desk where, leaned against the wall, is one of your large “Blind Time” drawings on white paper. Left hand, then right hand with time gap, the application of graphite-covered hands very much alive. This is the same desk from which I’ve received and responded to your emails for the past five years, ever since you were asked to write something about me for the Thinking with the Body catalogue. Our emails, at first related to your task, eventually evolved into a correspondence. Now I’ve been asked to write something in remembrance of you. 

    You once told me that you felt

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  • Nicola L. in Penetrable at the Chelsea Hotel, New York, 1991. Photo: Estate of the artist.

    Nicola L. (1937–2018)

    WHEN THE POLICE INTERRUPTED her 1969 performance, The Red Coat Same Skin for Everyone, on the streets of Franco-era Barcelona, Nicola L. followed up by taking it to the stage in 1970. Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso had just left Brazil, fleeing political persecution, and invited her to perform with them at one of the more historic Isle of Wight festivals, where Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, and the Doors performed in front of thousands of attendees. In footage of the event, the Tropicália musicians play while a group of young people dance naked inside the coat. Nicola’s methodology was anchored

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  • Excerpt from the manuscript for November, by Dennis Johnson, 1959.

    Dennis Johnson (1938–2018)

    I WAS WALKING DOWN THE HALL on the second floor of the music building at UCLA when I heard someone playing the Webern Variations for Piano. I was surprised that anyone in the UCLA music department knew who Webern was, so I opened the door and there was this young man sitting at the piano. He turned out to be Dennis Johnson, a new transfer to UCLA from Caltech. I had learned about Webern from Leonard Stein, Schoenberg’s disciple, with whom I was studying counterpoint and composition at that time, and I encouraged Dennis to take private lessons with him as well.

    This was the beginning of a long-term

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  • Lothar Baumgarten (1944–2018)

    As a graduate student, I wrote one of my first research papers on Lothar Baumgarten’s film Origin of the Night (Amazon Cosmos) (1973–77), though securing access was no easy task at the time. Shot on 16 mm, it had a magnetic soundtrack and required a special projector to transmit the recording. Marian Goodman generously stepped in to assist, and the film was screened for a small, private audience at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2001. In the months following the screening and increasingly during our professional relationship (and, ultimately, friendship), I met and spoke with Lothar on

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  • ROBERT VENTURI

    MY STUDENTS AND I were in the midst of studying Learning from Las Vegas when the news came of Robert Venturi’s death. We had just absorbed an extraordinary lecture tour of his mother’s house, in all its faux–New England simplicity, which harbored so many allusive surprises; now the book, published in 1972, was revealing itself to be a profoundly American source for the cultural-studies movement whose genealogy we had for so long attributed to the Birmingham School. It also turns out to have been one of the underground blasts that signaled the beginning of postmodernism.

    The 2017 facsimile reprint

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  • ANNETTE MICHELSON

    WHAT COMES WITH VERY OLD AGE, Annette Michelson often told me, is a necessary pragmatism—and being pragmatic, she’d add with a wry smile, was never something that interested her. For almost thirty years, Annette had intended to publish a collection of her writings on film, but there always seemed to be a more compelling project vying for her attention. Sometimes it was her own: She was researching Ivan Pavlov and Mechanics of the Brain, the 1926 documentary Vsevolod Pudovkin made on the physiologist’s experiments, for a new essay until just a few months before her death. Sometimes she was

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  • ANNETTE MICHELSON

    EARLY IN 1969, an article in Artforum opened a door for me—and, as I soon learned, not only for me—onto a conception of cinema much larger and more intellectually stimulating than any I had until then imagined. I had only recently embarked on my training for an academic career in twentieth-century art history, even while quietly questioning whether I would ever have anything new or important to say about Picasso or Pop art. Given my already-kindled enthusiasm for movies, I was not sure I cared if I did. 

    I was familiar with the first academic essays about such European auteurs as Antonioni and

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  • Exhibition poster for “Robert Morris,” Tate Gallery, 1971.

    Robert Morris (1931–2018)

    HIS CONSTRUCTION of the sculptural platform for Simone Forti’s Slant Board; his naked embrace with Yvonne Rainer as they balanced on two tracks; his thwarted performance inside Column that led to a head injury; his process-based exhibition at the Whitney Museum in 1970 and its abrupt closure as a gesture of solidarity with the New York Art Strike Against Racism, War, and Repression. His smug smile as he displays his penis in I-Body; his overwrought neo-expressionist series about nuclear war; his poster camping it up in a queer/Nazi pose; his active dismantling of wooden sheets to reveal a

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