COLUMNS

  • Peter Blundell Jones (1949–2016)

    PETER BLUNDELL JONES was an important architectural historian who died from cancer at the age of sixty-seven following a short illness. PBJ—as he was fondly known—is widely recognized for bringing an alternative history of twentieth-century architecture to public attention. The standard histories of modern architecture shuffle the same pack of cards—Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Gropius, Mies, et. al.—in various orders according to stylistic and formal preferences. PBJ’s version of architectural history does not concentrate on form or style, but investigates the social purpose of architecture.

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  • Abbas Kiarostami

    ABBAS KIAROSTAMI’S grievously premature death this past July transformed two of his final works, the art installation Doors Without Keys, 2015, and the film Like Someone in Love (2012), into inadvertent requiems. To discern portents of mortality in the last creations of artists whose expiry is untimely—Mozart’s unfinished Requiem being the most famous and vexing example—is a perilous game, but that has never stopped critics from reading Fassbinder’s Querelle (1982) or Pasolini’s Salò (1975) as auguries of their makers’ own willed demise. Though Kiarostami’s optimistic humanism, his

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  • Walter Darby Bannard (1934–2016)

    How can we demonstrate that Mozart is “better” than Salieri or, for that matter, better than Elton John? Well, we can’t. . . . Mozart thrills me. . . . Elton John does not thrill me. . . . I suppose all we really can have is a Mozart fan club, which will grow or diminish with time.

    —Walter Darby Bannard, artcritical, 2002

    WALTER DARBY BANNARD WAS BORN TO WIN. He was the perfect American, a taller, more physically imposing but equally charming version of Warren Beatty, smiling and savvy, brilliant but mischievous. He could have been a movie star, a tennis pro, or at the very least a successful

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  • Marwan Kassab-Bachi (1934–2016)

    THE PAIN OF LOSS seems to pervade every corner of my life at the moment. Everything feels more precarious than ever before. I sat and watched the US election results from a hotel room in Berlin after having spent the day shivering in a bitter-cold forest fifteen miles outside of the city, where Marwan had just been buried.

    Marwan Kassab-Bachi, known simply as Marwan, was an artist whose imagination captured the minds and hearts of many. But he also moved beyond the limits of art, the limits of painting or canvas, indeed the limits of our imaginations.

    I will begin by explaining how I met Marwan.

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  • Tony Feher (1956–2016)

    WHEREVER HE WENT, Tony Feher transformed space, not only through his work but also through his presence; nothing ever felt or looked the same once he had his way with it. He was compelled to leave gifts, whether he was invited as an artist to create or show work in a museum setting or simply as a friend to spend time at someone’s home. He couldn’t help seeing and seizing opportunities to make his mark and leave it up to his host, institutional or private, to decide whether to keep these small treasures once he or the show moved on.

    We conceived of our work together as the planning of a midcareer

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  • Tony Feher (1956–2016)

    MY FIRST COLLABORATION WITH TONY FEHER took place in the summer of 1995, in a group exhibition titled “Thresholds/Limiares” at Fundação de Serralves in Porto, Portugal. The curatorial premise was for each artist—including Tony, Lewis deSoto, R. M. Fischer, Kristin Oppenheim, Paul Ramirez-Jonas, Diana Thater, Meyer Vaisman, and Millie Wilson—to present two works: one within the stately family house and the other in the surrounding gardens. When Tony explained to me that everything he needed for his indoor work would be in his checked luggage, that his total materials and production budget on-site

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  • Jaime Davidovich (1936–2016)

    “AND ONE LAST THING: AVOID ASSHOLES,” Jaime Davidovich deadpanned, in a final piece of advice to my art students when, in the summer of 2015, we met him in his Bronx Museum retrospective, “Adventures of the Avant-Garde.” Coming from this singular Argentinean artist, who moved to New York in 1963 and participated in post-Minimalist and video-art experiments before becoming one of the pioneers of public-access cable in the late 1970s, this was no empty provocation or joke. It is a challenge to summarize the many twists and turns of Jaime’s career, but he was, above all, a profoundly ethical artist,

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  • Benjamin Patterson

    THE COMPOSER, performer, and visual artist Benjamin Patterson was one of the founding figures of Fluxus, the massively interdisciplinary international art movement that emerged in the early 1960s, encompassing music, text-sound, sculpture, video, Conceptual art, and what later came to be known as performance art. Another cofounder, the artist and entrepreneur George Maciunas, drew the name from a standard dictionary definition for flux: “any substance or mixture . . . used to promote fusion,” or “an excessive discharge, from the bowels or other part.”1

    Patterson was a classically trained

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  • John Vaccaro (1929–2016)

    FOR THOSE UNFORTUNATE ONES, like me, who never had a chance to experience the Theatre of the Ridiculous in its heyday from the mid-1960s to the early ’70s in New York City, it is difficult to know fully how crucial director John Vaccaro was to that movement’s unconventional, disorienting, and defiant queer vision. The two other key figures of the Ridiculous—Charles Ludlam and Ronald Tavel—were both playwrights and essayists who reflected on their work and on the broader implications of this radical theater. Their writings provide fantastic evidence of both their wacky and inventive stage plays

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  • Max Ritvo (1990–2016)

    MAX,

    We die. You did, who seemed to have believed this fact. That we are of the nature of dying means that what happened to you in August in Los Angeles is that you went ahead of us. If too far ahead.

    I froze on a Brooklyn sidewalk the moment I realized I would no longer be chanting your name as I had for months with everyone in our temple: “Max Ritvo . . . Monastic Senjin . . . May they heal all their ills.”

    Did you hear, before you died, that Senjin’s last words were “I’m ready”? I have wondered if you were ready, who wrote:

    When my heart stops, it will be the end of certain things,

    but not the

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  • Mladen Stilinović (1947–2016)

    “La Pologne, la Pologne. Isn’t it terribly cold there?”

    “Pas du tout,” I answer icily

    THIS IS THE DEDICATION Mladen Stilinović wrote me in his artist’s book Energetic Action, comprising newspaper cutouts of political meetings in former Yugoslavia, reprinted on the occasion of his 2010 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. The quote is by Polish poetess Wisława Szymborska: two lines of mordant irony and deceptive simplicity.

    Stilinović loved poetry. He loved Polish poetry especially. He wrote his own poems, though he rarely published them. He also loved colloquial language: “One must

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  • Alan Vega (1938–2016)

    “Screams at:

    03:33

    03:59

    04:38

    06:15

    08:11

    09:24

    09:50.”

    “imagine just playing this , like casually like ppl would listen to Beyonce and shit”

    —Comments on a YouTube video of Suicide’s “Frankie Teardrop”

    THERE WAS NOTHING CASUAL ABOUT ALAN VEGA, who died last summer at (what turned out to be) the age of seventy-eight. An artist, musician, provocateur, and all-around wild man, Vega was best known as the vocalist for the lightning-bolt-channeling Suicide, who in the late 1970s gave Frankenstein-life to the extraordinarily loud, harsh breed of synth punk that not only inspired others to take up the

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