I’m shocked and saddened to report that art critic, poet and downtown fixture, Edit DeAk has died. The cause of death was pneumonia.
I met Edit along with her BFF the late Rene Ricard on the 80s New York art scene that loved and revered her –one that she saw from a totally unique perspective. Her student and friend, Sally Randall Brunger remembered her today like this,
“I met her at art school – she was my art criticism teacher. She hired me as her assistant, and we would spend hours at her loft writing and rewriting, thinking and rethinking. Rene Ricard was rooming with her at the time, and he would be across the loft with Keith Haring, and they would put up huge rolls of paper and draw and write things all over them. Keith and I knew each other from SVA, but it was in that loft that we shared Edit and Rene with each other, across the room, opposite sides of thought.
She filmed me walking across her rooftop, telling me the entire time to walk like I was a woman. I had no idea what that meant. She would have me call artists to interview them for her, guessing that if it wasn’t her calling, that they might be more candid. I typed up her notes, her articles, her everything, always typing, then going to clubs with her, and parties, and meeting whomever she knew.”
Artist, critic and friend Walter Robinson had this to say about Edit,
“RIP Edit DeAk my brilliant 1970s collaborator who emerged from the Hungarian waves (via car trunk at the Yugoslavian border) with her equally brilliant husband Peter Grass, to rehab a 3500 sq ft loft on the top floor of 149 Wooster St into a center of fun and DIY culture, where she presided as guiding spirit over the launch of Art-Rite magazine and so many other endeavors, including curating the first performance art festival at Artists Space, then next door, and overseeing its first graffiti art show (I think) and co-founding Printed Matter.
A Mudd Club regular, when not out at all hours she could be found in deep convo in her bedroom office w Jack Smith, Johnny Dynell and other free spirits. We met in an art criticism seminar at Barnard College in 1972, if you can believe that. Her pal Patrick Fox took her to the emergency room, where she went into steep decline and was unplugged. Rest In Peace you wayward genius, your memory lives on.”
Gallerist Massimo Audiello posted this remembrance,
“Downtown NYC is in TEARS !!! One of her most shining mind is gone Edit DeAk. She touched many of us with her brilliance, humor, style, strength and courage. She was the first person I came in touch of the NYC art scene, we actually met in Florence 1980 during one of her trips abroad. Being a woman and coming from Communist East Europe I always thought must have been an excruciating journey towards freedom and independence and she sure had both in abundance . Thank you Patrick Fox and William Howell to be such good great friends to Edit. We who loved her and admired her were trilled she find in you guys a family. God bless you !!!“
She was one of those vital, brilliant sorts who introduced, connected, inspired and informed but seemed to want no glory for herself. She was a creative conduit, now gone WAY too soon.
I’m still kind of not believing she’s not going to post some poetic, obtuse comment on Facebook and say,
“Hey, I’m not there now, I’m here.”
Edit DeAk was 68.