COLUMNS

  • Pierre Restany

    “PIERRE RESTANY? A MYTH.” That was Andy Warhol’s laudatory reply when asked his opinion of the inventor of Nouveau Réalisme, who died in Paris in May. Restany was much more than a curator or a critic as we understand the terms today: He was at once a champion of artists and an entrepreneur of concepts, which he defended with all the power of his conviction. He is mostly remembered for founding the movement, with Yves Klein, Christo, and Jean Tinguely, in the late ’50s. Less known is his more recent and discreet engagement with a new generation of largely European artists—from Pierre Huyghe to

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  • Fred Sandback

    IN 1986 FRED SANDBACK concluded one of his rare written statements with the words: “Perhaps indeed, I have nomadicized my existence.” He was speaking about his unexpected disaffection for the museum dedicated to his work in Winchendon, Massachusetts, which he had opened five years earlier with the financial help of the Dia Art Foundation. The idea of the museum had been “quirky,” he readily admitted, but his work, not “easily acquired or preserved,” had gradually become invisible. “I did feel that the work ought to exist somewhere in a reasonably dense and permanent grouping, outside of the ‘

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  • Fred Sandback

    I met the sculptor Fred Sandback through my partner in Artforum and copublisher Amy Baker, though I only got to know him after they married in 1982. He was a shy, kind, wryly humorous bear of a man, with the look of someone who wanted to be anywhere else but in the middle of an art-world function. He was an outdoorsman who loved to travel but was happiest and most at home in the woods and lakes around Rindge, New Hampshire, where his family had a house and where he spent much of his time.

    When we first met I knew his work only through illustrations, which give little sense of its quality. I

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  • Stan Brakhage

    STAN BRAKHAGE’S DEATH at seventy, on March 9, 2003, marked the end of the most astonishing career in the 108-year history of the cinema. For fifty years Brakhage released up to a dozen new works every year without a break, so that he leaves a filmography with some four hundred titles. In his artistic practice and in the themes of his films he was an Emersonian vitalist, a legacy he inherited through the poets Ezra Pound and Robert Duncan. But in the end he moved from being a celebrant of the aesthetic creed of the American Orpheus, and from a self-consciously Spinozist position as a critic of

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  • Colin de Land

    IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT, and I was standing, freezing, outside American Fine Arts, Co., when a shiny new purple pickup truck arrived with its ferocious cargo: The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. Naked save for a coat of brightly colored body paint, seven band members leaped from the vehicle and paraded into the packed gallery for their performance. Inside the space, visitors were greeted by a photo in which bandleader Kembra Pfahler was seen prancing on a bed with another naked body—that of Colin de Land, the proprietor of American Fine Arts, painted completely blue and topped with a

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  • Jack Goldstein

    “I AM ALWAYS DISAPPEARING in my performances––it’s strange how personal my work is.”

    Just as a serious assessment of the ’80s is beginning, one of the period’s most important and neglected figures has slipped from our grasp. The long-term significance of Jack Goldstein’s artistic achievement is only now becoming evident. In his life and work, Jack, who committed suicide in San Bernardino in March at the age of fifty-seven, articulated the profound anxiety dominating an era of spectacle, as the open-ended Conceptual practices that characterized the ’70s gave way to an appropriation-based return

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  • Charles Henri Ford

    IN THIS SUGAR-FREE ERA, what artist has a life more interesting than his art? The death of Charles Henri Ford (1908–2002) puts the capper on a time when precociousness and chutzpah were art forms in themselves. In 1927, on the eve of his nineteenth birthday, Ford wrote in his diary: “In two years I will be famous. In two years I will be famous. In two years I will be famous. In two years I will be famous. In two years I will be famous. In two years I will be famous. This is my oath.”

    Not missing a beat, the poetry-besotted high school dropout started a little magazine out of his small-town

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  • Larry Rivers, O’Hara Nude with Boots, 1954, oil on canvas, 97 x 53".

    Barbara Rose on Larry Rivers

    ONE OF THE REASONS I came to New York before I was old enough to go anywhere was to meet artists like Larry Rivers. Larry was already famous—or infamous—for indulging in activities that white-bread America in the ’50s believed was a one-way ticket to hell. Everything about him was offbeat and funky. He was vain enough to lie about his age. He was either seventy-six or seventy-eight when he died this summer of liver cancer in Southampton, Long Island, where he hobnobbed with the rich and famous while still living more or less the life of a hobo. But this was typical of Larry’s endless contradictions,

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  • Frank Moore, Hospital, 1992, oil on wood with handmade frame, 49 x 58".

    Andrew Solomon on Frank Moore

    THE WHOLE TIME I KNEW FRANK MOORE, he was dying; but this made his actual death, at the age of forty-eight, even more shocking than it would otherwise have been. Frank’s characteristic state of hovering transition seemed permanent: As clearly as I believed that Frank would never be well, I believed that he would never die. He came so close to dying so many times and always managed to pull back: Deathbeds were places he visited the way the rest of us visit sleep. Like Evel Knievel, he stayed alive against the odds, almost ostentatiously, as though he believed death could be defied through pure

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  • Juan Muñoz

    IN HIS PREFACE to Naked Masks: Five Plays by Luigi Pirandello, Eric Bentley wrote of the Sicilian playwright's belief that the essentially human thing was not merely to live but also to see oneself living, to think. For Pirandello, dramatic form was a challenge to show more of the inner life of humans, to show people seeing themselves, to let characters become roles and speak for themselves. Thus, maintained Bentley, Pirandello's people “think” a lot, but their thinking is part of their living, not their maker's speculations or preaching. Like Pirandello, the artist Juan Muñoz believed in

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  • Seydou Keïta

    SEYDOU KEÏTA WAS SEVENTY-EIGHT years old and long retired when he died last November. His future as an artist lay in his past as the photographer from Bamako, Mali, who managed to portray his subjects with all their dignity, dreams, and fantasies. Thanks to his signature studio technique, his use of props, and his facility with makeup, his work always ensured that his sitters became true Bamakois: bourgeois noblemen and -women, civil servants invested with the authority of the colonial administration. It was only at the end of his career that the world discovered Keita’s images justes and

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  • Ernst Gombrich, Vienna [?], ca. 1930. Photographer unknown.

    Richard Wollheim on E.H. Gombrich

    Daumier said: “We must follow our own time.” And Ingres said: “But what if the time is wrong.”—E.H. Gombrich and Didier Eribon, Looking for Answers: Conversations on Art and Science (1993)

    THE ART HISTORIAN Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich was born on March 30, 1909, and died on November 3, 2001. The ninety-two years that he spanned were no ordinary ninety-two years, nor was the life that he crammed into them an ordinary life. Gombrich lived through the dissolution of the great empires of Europe, the destruction of some of its grandest cities and monuments, the excesses of the various nationalisms into

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