COLUMNS

  • 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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  • Sam Miller (1952–2018)

    SAM MILLER'S IMPRINT on the performing arts in the United States is indelible, but he himself was an enigma. I was always at a loss for what to call him. Curator? Producer? Funder? Entrepreneur? Cultural architect?

    He was all of these things. And as well, he was a poet.

    When he was the director of New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) between 1995 and 2005—during which time he founded the National Dance Project (NDP), and the Contemporary Art Centers (CAC) and Centers for Creative Research (CCR) initiatives—he became impatient with writing the obligatory annual “letter from the director.” So

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  • James Yood (1952–2018)

    IN 1989, the same year I started graduate school at Northwestern University, Jim Yood was hired as the college’s lecturer and assistant chair in the department of art theory and practice. He had stepped in to take the reins from the cantankerous art critic Dennis Adrian, who was proudly dispassionate about anything that diverged from a Chicago Imagist tradition. It was here where my deep and enduring respect for him began.

    For the past twenty-nine years, Jim has never stopped teaching me. He taught me the virtue of the art review. As a spirited advocate for Chicago, he underscored the cultural

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  • Marcia Hafif (1929–2018)

    AT DIFFERENT POINTS IN HER CAREER, Marcia Hafif proposed a cave, a solitary room with no distractions, and a lusthus (gazebo) in the middle of a remote forest as appropriate environments for and as art. Within the contemporary milieu, such possibilities promise particular grace, sheltering us from the chaos by which we find ourselves surrounded. She was not suggesting escape, however, for she also engaged consistently in an ongoing practice: studiously, carefully, one stroke after another. Nor was this proposal insular. Hafif’s almost lifelong practice of mark-making toward seemingly monochromatic

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  • Laura Aguilar (1959–2018)

    I FIRST SAW A LAURA AGUILAR PHOTOGRAPH about twenty-five years ago, I think in a local art magazine in Los Angeles. The fact that I cannot remember my first encounter has to do not with its lack of impact but, to the contrary, with the fact that from that moment onward, Aguilar's work became a mainstay in my thinking, teaching, and writing about issues surrounding embodiment in photographic representation, making it seem as if I'd always known these images, mostly portraits and self-portraits. I met Laura, and shortly thereafter, the photographs gained texture and depth. One on one, Laura was

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