A clutch of obituaries came out in the past few days:
A painter by training, Mr. Lalanne created his own brand of surrealism when, in 1964, he unveiled “Rhinocrétaire,” a life-size Annam rhinoceros, whose side folded out into a writing desk. Endlessly inventive, he generated a zoo’s worth of animals in the decades that followed: a “landscape fish,” designed for the outdoors, with a rectangular hole in the middle that framed the natural scene like a painting; a giant fly, executed in brass, steel and porcelain, which did double duty as a toilet; and, most famous of all, 24 sheep covered in genuine sheepskin; some had faces, others were shaggy bolsters that stood on sheep legs. [ . . . ]
After completing his mandatory military service he rented a studio in Montparnasse, next to that of Constantin Brancusi, who was a decisive influence on his work. Through Brancusi, Mr. Lalanne met artists like Max Ernst, Jean Tinguely, Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp. Just as influential on his art was his brief stint as an attendant at the Louvre, where he worked in the galleries of ancient Egyptian and Assyrian art, surrounded by animal sculptures staring at him impassively from time’s abyss.
François-Xavier Lalanne, Sculptor of Surrealistic Animals, Is Dead at 81 (New York Times)
Ms. Constantine, who used her maiden name professionally and was known to associates as Connie, was associate curator and ultimately curatorial consultant in the Modern’s architecture and design department from 1943 through 1970, many of those years under Philip Johnson, the department’s founder. She was largely responsible for popularizing ignored or difficult-to-categorize collections, or what she called “fugitive material.”
With exhibitions including “Olivetti: Design in Industry” (1952), “Signs in the Street” (1954) and “Lettering by Hand” (1962), she fostered a new discipline of curatorial studies in the applied and decorative arts. She gave career-defining solo exhibitions for individual graphic and product designers like Alvin Lustig, Bruno Munari, Tadanori Yokoo and Massimo Vignelli, among others. [ . . . ]
Ms. Constantine belonged to the leftist Committee Against War and Fascism, and in 1936 traveled to Mexico, where she became interested in the political Latin and Central American graphics movement. She organized a comprehensive Latin American poster collection, initially shown at the Library of Congress and now part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[ . . . ]
In the same year Ms. Constantine wrote “Tina Modotti: A Fragile Life,” the first monograph about Ms. Modotti, an actress of fervent political passions who is now celebrated as a photographer.
Mildred Constantine, 95, MoMA Curator, Is Dead (New York Times)
Mr. Brecht came of age as an artist in the late 1950s, when Abstract Expressionism and the cult of the heroic creative genius were ascendant. Inspired by the Conceptual art of Marcel Duchamp and the experimental music of John Cage, he began to imagine a more modest, slyly provocative kind of art that would focus attention on the perceptual and cognitive experience of the viewer.
American, European and Asian artists who were thinking along similar lines included Dick Higgins, Alison Knowles, Ben Vautier, Nam June Paik and George Maciunas, who in 1962 came up with the name Fluxus for this confederation of like-minded Conceptualists.
Like many other Fluxus artists, Mr. Brecht created assemblages consisting of ordinary objects in boxes and cabinets, as well as arrangements that often included chairs. He also made paintings and sculptures that played with language, like a piece with white plastic letters spelling “sign of the times.” [ . . . ]
In the early 1960s, Mr. Brecht taught in what was then the unusually progressive art department of Rutgers University, along with Mr. Hendricks, Allan Kaprow (who became known as an inventor of the “happening”) and Robert Watts, who also became a Fluxus artist.
George Brecht, 82, Fluxus Conceptual Artist, Is Dead (Bloomberg)