This year, as pandemic deaths ebbed and flowed, a distinctive and eternal rhythm – that of artist deaths – continued as usual, bringing its own waves of collective mourning. Some, like Cicely Tyson and Stephen Sondheim, have held the limelight for generations. Others, like Michael K. Williams and Nai-Ni Chen, have left us with curtailed careers with mourning. Here is a tribute to a small number of them, in their own words.
“I am not afraid of death. I do not know what it is. How could I be afraid of something I don’t know anything about?
– Cicely Tyson, actress, born 1924 (Read the obituary.)
“I want people to be empowered and have a hell of a good time too.”
– Melvin Van Peebles, filmmaker, born in 1932 (Read the obituary.)
“I want my footsteps to speak.”
– Liam Scarlett, choreographer, born in 1986 (Read the obituary.)
“I often remember my childhood, I remember the past a lot. But when it comes to music, I always look forward to it.
– Nelson Freire, pianist, born in 1944 (Read the obituary.)
“When my parents would go out, I would push back the furniture, clear an open space, turn on the record player and jump into the apartment.”
– Bob Avian, choreographer, born in 1937 (Read the obituary.)
“School was an overwhelming boredom and a terrible chore, until one day I was chosen to play the girl with the mandolin in ‘Sleeping Beauty’.”
– Carla Fracci, dancer, born in 1936 (Read the obituary.)
“As I grew up in Kyoto, the wood of Buddhist statues, the trees, the grain of the wooden pillars, the patterns on the ground, the stones of the gardens, the bamboos, the trees and plants of Kyoto are all part of me. – and while I’m reading a script, I’m borrowing all of these things.
– Emi Wada, costume designer, born in 1937
“There are a lot of landscapes that I would never have described if I hadn’t been homesick. If I hadn’t wanted to remember.
– Joan Didion, writer, born in 1934 (Read the obituary.)
“I always feel deprived of the sky in wooded places. Many, many people born in the plains skies feel this. “
– Larry McMurtry, novelist, born in 1936 (Read the obituary.)
“My dad said to me, ‘You weren’t successful as a student, you’re not going to be successful as an actor.’ I said, ‘I’ll be the judge.’ “
– Ed Asner, actor, born 1929 (Read the obituary.)
“I came to New York with $ 57 in my pocket. “
– Olympia Dukakis, actress, born in 1931 (Read the obituary.)
“When I first went to New York with the Stones, the first thing I did was go to Birdland. And that was it. I had seen America. I mean, I didn’t want to see anywhere else.
– Charlie Watts, drummer, born 1941 (Read the obituary.)
“Tell me in Times Square or the Belasco Theater. “
– Jacques D’Amboise, dancer, born in 1934 (Read the obituary.)
Remembering Stephen Sondheim
The revered and influential songwriter passed away on November 26, 2021. He was 91 years old.
“If you have a main character, they should be in a hurry. You can slow it down as you shoot, but it helps with the writing: even if they don’t move, they’re thinking about moving on or stepping away from the scene they’re in. “
– Robert Downey Sr., filmmaker, born 1936 (Read the obituary.)
“I’ve always said I lack ambition, but that didn’t mean I was lazy.”
– Joe Allen, theater district restaurateur, born in 1933 (Read the obituary.)
“I don’t presume in the public interest. I guess the opposite.
– Charles Grodin, actor, born in 1935 (Read the obituary.)
“I solve problems – visual problems.”
– Jerry Pinkney, children’s book illustrator, born 1939 (Read the obituary.)
“If you are combative, you never learn. “
– Larry King, TV host, born 1933 (Read the obituary.)
“I started teaching people how the body actually works. I looked at the skeleton. I did a human dissection. I did all of these things to understand the nature of movement, not just my movement.
– Anna Halprin, choreographer, born in 1920 (Read the obituary.)
“I am not interested in the intentions of the artists; I am interested in the consequences.
– Dave Hickey, art critic, born in 1938 (Read the obituary.)
“My thirst to express myself, both in the East and in the West, could only materialize by creating my own business.
– Nai-Ni Chen, choreographer and dancer, born in 1959 (Read the obituary.)
“When I studied engineering at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, it was the humanities courses that I had put aside that ultimately got me started on this path of thinking about creativity in a very much context. more cultural – not for design, but to connect design to the rhythm of what is happening in the world.
– Virgil Abloh, designer, born in 1980 (Read the obituary.)
“Those of us who make pictures should always be very aware of the power of pictures – of how they work – especially in a society where we are not taught our own history. “
– Yolanda López, artist, born in 1942 (Read the obituary.)
“You are more lawless on stage than anywhere else.”
– Helen McCrory, actress, born 1968 (Read the obituary.)
“The characters that mean the most to me are the ones who almost killed me. It is a sacrifice that I have chosen to make.
– Michael K. Williams, actor, born in 1966 (Read the obituary.)
“We cannot have a meaningful revolution without humor.”
– bell hooks, writer and scholar, born 1952 (Read the obituary.)
“Making people laugh is a gift. Preaching to them is not a gift. There are people who can do better. Preachers.
– Norm Macdonald, actor, born in 1959 (Read the obituary.)
“The thing that everyone thinks works is not going to work. The thing that no one thinks will work will work.
– Elizabeth McCann, theater producer, born in 1931 (Read the obituary.)
“The success of my books is not in the characters or the words or the colors, but in the simple and simple feelings.”
– Eric Carle, author and artist, born in 1929 (Read the obituary.)
“I think kids want to read about normal, everyday kids.”
– Beverly Cleary, author, born in 1916 (Read the obituary.)
“My goal is to give these people the real deal. “
– Young Dolph, rapper, born in 1985 (Read the obituary.)
“I try to use words that fit a pattern, that are musical and expressive, but that don’t sound mechanically. Most of all, it should have a speaking rhythm that resembles the rhythms the audience would speak. “
– Carlisle Floyd, composer, born in 1926 (Read the obituary.)
“Birds were the first composers. They love to sing in the spring. To serve beauty outright is what we are trying to do.
– Louis Andriessen, composer, born in 1939 (Read the obituary.)
“I don’t have a lot of strengths, I think, in my personality. I’m just a simple person with a silly bone.
– Cloris Leachman, actress, born in 1926 (Read the obituary.)
“I witness my time, you know, a story.
– Hung Liu, artist, born 1948 (Read the obituary.)
“Technology is changing the way people work. With email, the Internet, teleconferencing, people are starting to ask, “What is a head office or an office environment?” “
– Art Gensler, architect, born in 1935 (Read the obituary.)
“I’ve done over 100 films, and some of them were even good. It’s nice to be reborn every few decades.
– Christopher Plummer, actor, born 1929 (Read the obituary.)
“After seeing your work, you always want to go back and start all over. “
– Lisa Banes, actress, born 1955 (Read the obituary.)
“I think art is dead when it leaves my studio. I don’t even own it anymore. Installed in a museum or an upcoming show, I never have the right to touch my own work. It just seems strange to me. If someone put me in front of my drawings, I would put more text in them. It’s never finished, but none of my work is ever finished.
– Kaari Upson, artist, born 1970 (Read obituary.)
“I don’t need to mess up the physical world any more. And I like the fact that the musical data is weightless and without space that way.
– Sophie, producer and pop performer, born in 1986 (Read the obituary.)
“My paintings are generally not titled. Art should make people dream, and when you have a title, you condition the vision.
– Etel Adnan, author and artist, born in 1925 (Read the obituary.)
“We’re an old couple, but we have the same sound when we play this music – and it feeds us like it feeds you. “
– Michael Nesmith, musician, born 1942 (Read the obituary.)
“We always put the music first and the wedding second. One night after dinner, for example, I was going to do the dishes and Jerry said, “Forget about the dishes. Let’s practice. I’ll do the dishes later.
– Dottie Dodgion, drummer, born in 1929 (Read the obituary.)
“Even my ‘prominent women’ – you know, in airy quotes – were characters. It wasn’t Miss Vanilla Ice Cream. They weren’t holding the horse as John Wayne galloped toward sunset.
– Jessica Walter, actress, born in 1941 (Read the obituary.)
“The last note, the last high note – that must mean something. “
– Edita Gruberova, soprano, born in 1946 (Read the obituary.)
“I’m going to look back on my life, just before I go, and thank God for every moment.”
– DMX, rapper, born in 1970 (Read the obituary.)
“Life is unpredictable. It is. There is no shape. And making shapes gives you solidity. I think that’s why people paint, take pictures, write music and tell stories. stories that have a beginning, a middle and an end, even when the middle is at the beginning and the beginning is at the end.
– Stephen Sondheim, composer and lyricist, born 1930 (Read the obituary.)