COLUMNS

  • Trisha Brown

    THERE IS A PHOTOGRAPH of Trisha Brown and Stephen Petronio dancing her masterpiece Set and Reset in 1983, in which Brown appears to levitate. She seems to have flown in and alighted briefly on Petronio’s shoulder. And where had she come from? Brown grew up in coastal Washington, and she spoke often of the primordial effects that the forests of the Olympic peninsula had on her. “I never studied ballet,” she was quick to point out. “But I studied the natural principles one applies when one crosses a stream on a log. I know a lot about instinctive behavior. You’re working with energy and initiated

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  • Jannis Kounellis

    ARTE POVERA ARTIST Jannis Kounellis was concerned, like most of his generation, with the point where art and life intersect. He was a true realist—not because he endeavored to represent reality faithfully through figuration, but on account of his deep and lasting commitment to the meaningfulness of embodied social and material experience. In its lowliness and radical authenticity, his art was uniquely capable of expressing the tragedy of European history and the laceration of Enlightenment ideals in the twentieth century.

    Born in Greece, Kounellis moved to Rome in 1956, where he stayed for

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  • Gustav Metzger, Norfolk, England, 1960. Photo: Ida Kar. © National Portrait Gallery, London.

    Gustav Metzger

    IN THE LATE 1950S, I was an assistant at Drian Galleries in London, and that job brought me into close contact with Denis Bowen, who had a small exhibition space nearby called the New Vision Centre. On weekends I would earn extra money by working there. It was a pioneering avant-garde gallery, open-minded enough to exhibit radical artists whom no one else would look at. One day a small figure came in with a pile of paintings and set them up for Bowen to look at. They were figurative works in the David Bomberg style of Vorticism. Bowen, who was kind but didn’t mince words, told the artist that

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  • Leigh Markopoulos, 2014. Photo: Nathaniel Lui.

    Leigh Markopoulos (1968–2017)

    AFTER LEIGH MARKOPOULOS DIED it became common among her friends and acquaintances to remark on what a private person she was, and how she would have disliked the fuss and attention being paid her memory. Reflections like this one would have made her uncomfortable—so the wisdom went—and would have exposed her in a way that she would have deplored. I have my doubts about the accuracy of this. Leigh was territorial, perhaps even secretive, but not exactly private. She was the consummate diplomat’s daughter (her father, Dimitri, had worked for Greece’s foreign service): flexible, multilingual, and

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  • Leigh Markopoulos, 2017. Photo: California College of the Arts.

    Leigh Markopoulos (1968–2017)

    Curator, art writer, and professor Leigh Markopoulos had expansive but erudite interests in art. She loved rigorously conceptual work but also whimsical ephemera. She was drawn to both the poignant and the funny. Some of the works in the slideshow above come from her personal collection; others are things she much admired.

    Jessica Silverman is the owner and director of Jessica Silverman Gallery in San Francisco.

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  • Trisha Brown, date unknown. Photo: Lois Greenfield.

    Trisha Brown (1936–2017)

    AT AGE SIXTEEN, I glimpsed Trisha Brown in rehearsal at Bennington College. She was making Opal Loop, 1980, and being filmed by WGBH-TV Boston. What I saw indelibly touched me. I became an ardent, unrelenting fan of her choreography. I never imagined we would meet. That privilege came in 1999 when, as a curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I invited Trisha to create her first new work for a museum since the 1970s (a decade when the art world provided her abstract dances their most important venues). After our project, It’s a Draw/Live Feed, 2003, premiered at Philadelphia’s Fabric Workshop

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  • Julian Stanczak, 2016. Photo: Barbara Stanczak

    Julian Stanczak (1928–2017)

    JULIAN STANCZAK died in my arms on March 25, 2017. His body gave up fighting, but awareness of his unique spirit only keeps growing.

    Living together for almost fifty-five years, Julian and I—and later our children, too—experienced many memorable adventures; we crossed the country by car from one national park to the next, from one unique experience to another. As I took in nature’s formations and found myself enthralled by America’s geology, Julian was registering everything within his mind’s eye.

    Julian never forgot anything but kept all impressions tucked away in his mind, ready to be re-experienced

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  • George Braziller and Janet Frame, 2000. Photo: Pamela Gordon.

    George Braziller (1916–2017)

    I FIRST MET THE RENOWNED BOOK PUBLISHER GEORGE BRAZILLER at a dinner party in 2002. There were some thirty people at two long tables, but good fortune placed us diagonally across from each other, and we talked all evening. A few months later he contacted me about translating a book from Italian into English. It was a first-time effort by a very young writer, Randa Ghazy, born in Italy to Egyptian parents. Her book, Sognando Palestina, was the story of a group of young Palestinians and their struggle for identity and dignity. A commercial success in Europe, the book engendered tremendous controversy.

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  • Dore Ashton, 2015. Photo: Polly Bradford-Corris.

    Dore Ashton (1928–2017)

    DORE ASHTON CAME OF AGE IN A GALVANIZING PLACE AND TIME—New York in the 1950s—when Abstract Expressionism was giving the art of the United States international significance and when partisan arguments over the proper way to interpret this art were flaring. The dominant voices in those arguments were male—Clement Greenberg, Harold Rosenberg, and Leo Steinberg among others—but a number of women were also shaping the critical discourse, including Aline Louchheim Saarinen, Elaine de Kooning, Belle Krasne, Katherine Kuh, and Emily Genauer.

    Even as Ashton’s early reviews covered a broad range of work,

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  • Joan Mitchell, Bernard Zürcher, Gwénolée Zürcher, 1991. Photo: Christopher Campbell.

    Bernard Zürcher (1953–2017)

    SHOCK OVERCAME ME JANUARY 16, 2017, when I heard that gallerist and art historian Bernard Zürcher had died from a heart attack that morning in Paris. He was only sixty-three. What a loss for the international art world, for me and the other artists represented by Zürcher Gallery, for his wife and business partner, Gwénolée, and his son, Theo. Within a genuinely humble and sweet demeanor, Bernard was amazingly bright, educated, and accomplished. Although he had a practical side, Bernard was sincere, even idealistic, about supporting the art he loved.

    I first met Bernard on January 20, 2013. In

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  • Barbara Weiss, 2014. Photo: Jens Ziehe.

    Barbara Weiss (1960–2016)

    I MET BARBARA WEISS AT A TIME when I still regarded galleries as false agents of a new financialization of the city. So at first I hesitated to show with her, but over several conversations with her I found that she was receptive to my concerns and even shared some of them. This is what moved me to exhibit with her. At that point, I didn’t yet know the meaning of sustained collaboration or what it was like to be able to count on someone across decades; it was to her credit that she showed me that.

    Barbara Weiss advocated not only artistic positions that represented their creator’s subjectivity

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  • Gustav Metzger, 2013. Photo: Hans Ulrich Obrist.

    Gustav Metzger (1926–2017)

    IT WAS THE CULTURAL COMMENTATOR FRED KAPLAN who observed that many of the great epiphanies of the 1960s were set in motion in 1959. This is certainly true in the case of Gustav Metzger—1959 was the year he wrote his first manifesto on “auto-destructive art,” a public art form that held up a mirror to a social and political system that Metzger felt was progressing toward total obliteration. Auto-destruction, he wrote, was “an attempt to deal rationally with a society that appears to be lunatic.”

    I heard of Gustav years later. I was on an eight-city lecture tour of the UK with not much to lecture

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