COLUMNS

  • the editor's note

    I didn’t know Richard Martin well, but then I suspect not well is exactly the way he preferred being known. My first inkling of this came in 1984, when (on John Yau’s recommendation) Richard gave me the go-ahead to write my first piece of criticism for Arts Magazine, where he had been editor since 1974. Having turned in my copy, I anxiously awaited his judgment. I kept expecting to hear what needed more work, what should be cut, and so on. Nothing. After a while I started to get worried, so I called the Arts office. Richard wasn’t in. Next day, the same thing. The third day, the voice on the

    Read more
  • Eye of the Storm

    IN MY MIND’S EYE are hurried comings and goings. People in full stride under the shadow of tall buildings, the monumental immobility of which measures the figures’ relative stature and speed. One by one they set their course, converging like tributary currents into great pedestrian waves that break on other pedestrian waves at crosswalks and street corners. Unseen in this steady flow of brisk bodies and thrusting ankles is a slight, stationary figure. He watches, the bemused, faintly melancholy look on his face occasionally relieved by a broad sweet smile. Otherwise he is all attention as he

    Read more
  • Patrick Heron

    ACTIVE AS A PAINTER FOR BETTER than sixty years, as a writer on art for more than fifty, and as a campaigner on art education and landscape conservation for thirty, Patrick Heron never lost his passion, his innocence, or his idealism. That was what made any encounter with Patrick, his paintings, or his words a life-enhancing experience. Whether he was working for the preservation of the independent art schools in Britain or against the removal of field boundaries in West Penwith, his early-modernist sense of the need to adopt a firm moral position, whether aesthetic or political, gave his many

    Read more
  • Raghubir Singh, 1942–1999

    Raghubir Singh, who died in April, was the most widely published of all photographers of India. Born and raised in Jaipur, Rajasthan, he eschewed the tradition of black-and-white photography in his thirteen books of images of India: Indeed, he considered color to be intrinsic to the culture of the subcontinent. As he wrote in his final collection, Rivers of Color, which shares its title with his recent Art Institute of Chicago retrospective, color is the “fountain of the continuum of life” in India.

    Singh, who was a lecturer at New York’s School of the Visual Arts at the time of his death, was

    Read more
  • Harry Callahan, 1912–1999

    Harry Callahan, who died in March at eighty-six, created a unique body of work that wedded his own vision of photographic modernism to deeply personal concerns. He was central to the Chicago school of photography at IIT’s Institute of Design, where he taught from 1946 to 1961, although he himself had studied only in Detroit camera clubs. Experimentation was as important to Callahan as to László Moholy-Nagy. He called it “photographic seeing,” which he explored through techniques including the use of multiple exposure, camera movement, light studies, and variations in focus. Despite the technical

    Read more
  • Nelson Goodman

    NELSON GOODMAN’S WORK touched on so many fields—philosophy, of course, but also the arts, the sciences, and psychology—that it is difficult for anyone to appreciate, much less summarize, what it has all meant for us, or even to specify the “us” that will continue to have some stake in his work. More appreciated in Europe than America, invoked as an authority in fields from cognitive science to artificial intelligence to art criticism to analytic philosophy, Goodman has had a massive yet unobtrusive influence on contemporary thinking in a wide variety of disciplines. He never achieved the kind

    Read more
  • Norman Bluhm

    NORMAN BLUHM WAS AN EXTREME example of the many Americans, mostly World War II veterans, who went to Italy and France after the war to learn about art history and in doing so simultaneously taught the typically despairing and poverty-stricken European artist something about American energy, expansiveness, and optimism. Like Sam Francis and Joan Mitchell, Bluhm was one of the most powerful so-called second-generation Abstract Expressionists (more accurately second-decade) and, also like them, among the few who remained consistently faithful to this aesthetic.

    After four years as a bomber pilot—a

    Read more
  • Jean-François Lyotard

    THE PARADOXICAL TITLE GIVEN to Jean-Francois Lyotard’s Artforum essay of 1982, “presenting the unpresentable,” might retrospectively name an art and an ethic peculiar to this philosopher/critic/aesthetician who died of complications from leukemia in April at the age of seventy-three; it might characterize a long philosophical activity, without method or doctrine, carried on in many places and in many ways. For his was a singular intelligence—mobile, generous, light—that had navigated all the debates and divisions of his time. He was a man of “peregrinations” (as he called them), through many

    Read more
  • Richard Bellamy

    HE NEVER SEEMED TO AGE; they would continue to call him boyish right up to his death, at seventy, this March. Richard Bellamy’s youthfulness was as much spiritual as physical: he remained filled with wonder to the end of his days. He was an anomaly, the loose round peg in the tight square grid that the art world became. He was called an art dealer because he ran galleries, but that was hardly his vocation: he was the artist’s confidant who, when it was absolutely necessary, could negotiate the real world on behalf of those even more alienated than he. In truth, he was a terrible salesman, so

    Read more
  • Roy Lichtenstein

    ROY AND I HAD these little talks whenever I got shaky about dying. No one else I knew seemed so certain about death’s vacant aftermath, and seemed so certain without bravado or dread. He had no fear of death, he said. You were just gone and out. As for any aftermath, Roy was going to leave his soul to science.

    So much for what I’d already known. In this arena (and perhaps this was the only one), there were no consolations forthcoming from Roy. Why did I bother to ask? Just to hear him repeat how unfearful he was, I suppose. For the tonic effect it might have on me.

    Hemingway said that one of the

    Read more
  • Douglas Huebler

    I WAS INTRODUCED TO Doug Huebler in 1968 by Seth Siegelaub, a soon-to-be former dealer who at the time was showing Robert Barry’s and Lawrence Weiner’s paintings and the work of a few others as well as Doug’s Formica sculptures (as these artists’ work changed, so did the nature of Seth’s activity). Doug had strength, grace, and a kind of wizened humility, all qualities that I, at twenty-three, frankly lacked. He also had maturity—when I was born in 1945, Doug was serving as a sergeant in the US Marine Corps. The image of him as a Marine fit in with the strong impression he made physically. He

    Read more
  • Martin Kippenberger

    MARTIN KIPPENBERGER’S MAGIC always cast a powerful spell over his audience, sometimes literally putting them under the influence. Not so long ago I invited him to visit the Yale School of Art, and with extravagant melodrama he struggled through the early-morning commute to New Haven. Immediately on arrival he scuttled his scheduled lecture by ambushing the students with a cheering invitation to head straight for Yale’s favorite bar. At the Anchor, they ate from the breakfast menu and got all liquored up. He held forth, judging the quick and the dead in the art world; opinions were refueled with

    Read more