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Dennis Oppenheim
Digestion
1989
Private collection
Photo: David Sundberg
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GOODBYE, DEAR DENNIS
by Jerry Saltz



I had glimpsed Dennis Oppenheim around the art world for decades. The artist, who died of liver cancer at age 72 on Jan. 22, 2011, was a beautiful bottle-blond -- cute and disheveled, like a rock star, even into his last decade. He’d be at openings, across rooms, hunkered down at bars with artists, always with women. I only met him once. I was in my early 30s and interviewed him in his Tribeca studio for a book I was working on. I was interested in how and what he assigned to art students, to help them to expand their work. I didn't understand a lot of what he said; he had a way of speaking in winding threads, less like an artist and more like a physicist-philosopher-metaphysician. Take these two points: "Make things that carry with them the residue of where they have been." And "Make a sculpture in the way that you speak, as a projection that dissipates."

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