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Doomed and Famous
Selected Obituaries

Adrian Dannatt

With Illustrations by Hugo Guinness

Forthcoming February 2021
Sequence Press
Hardcover 210x135mm
320 pages, 50 b/w + 4 color illustrations
ISBN 978-099756747-2
$29.95


 

“Here comes Mr. Death!” Working as an obituarist for decades, Adrian Dannatt has tracked and dredged the dead, often finding his subjects amongst colleagues, friends and acq­­­­­uaintances with a macabre disregard for the etiquette of mortality. His speciality are those who would not otherwise merit such attention; personalities that had drifted their whole lives under the radar of public appreciation and whose eccentricity or criminality made them impossible candidates for the fleeting immortality of a newspaper necrology.

Dannatt is devoted to the odd and outrageous, marginal and maverick, maintaining a veritable lust, perverse certainly, for turning their wayward existences into a snappy thousand words of polished prose. This book is a selection of some of the best, meaning most improbable, of these miniature biographies, simply arranged in chronological order from over twenty-five years of such an unusual if not sinister occupation.

Here is compiled an almost fictive cast of characters including an imaginary Sephardic count in Wisconsin, an insomniac collector of the world’s rarest clocks, a discrete Cuban connoisseur of invisibility, an alcoholic novelist in Rio, a Warhol Superstar gone wrong, a leading downtown Manhattan dominatrix, a conceptual artist who blew up a museum and much, much more. 

Beginning with a preface in which the author outlines his obsession with the dead and that lifelong lure-of-the-obscure, Dannatt terminates this volume with his own extinction, performing the difficult if not dangerous task of penning his personal life history and ultimate end, his own obituary indeed.

 

Adrian Dannatt is a writer, curator, editor and artist based between New York, Paris and London. A longtime New York correspondent for The Art Newspaper his many books include the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (Phaidon), Wim Delvoye (Yale University Press) and most recently Francois-Xavier and Claude Lalanne: In the Domain of Dreams (Rizzoli). His fiction and poetry have been published in a range of anthologies including Best British Short Stories and PEN New Poetry. He has organized exhibitions at varied venues from Robert Indiana at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower in Oklahoma, to castillo/corrales in Paris, Kasmin Gallery, New York and the Impasse Ronsin at Museum Tinguely, Basel. His own work as an artist has been exhibited at Deitch Projects, the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester and Shanaynay, Paris. Dannatt is a founder of Living Obit, a unique obituary writing service offering bespoke memorials to the living.

CONTENTS

PREFACE – Ramblings of the unfortunate obituarist on the random path of anecdotage.
ALEXANDER IOLAS – How a dancer from Alexandria became the most famous art dealer in the world who nobody knows.
SANDY BROUGHTON – A crucial cog in New Wave culture or with calvados at dawn in Cherbourg.
RAY JOHNSON – The secret code long hidden within a Sag Harbor suicide.
REZA ABDOH – Our avant garde adventurer who created illegal theatre.
GIL J. WOLMAN – Or how the Marquis de Sade defeated Charlie Chaplin.
PIERRE SCHAEFFER – In which concrete music becomes a hit TV series.
PHILIPPE THOMAS – A fictional footnote & cabinet of curiosities extend the authorial conceit of conceptualism.
GUILLAUME GALLOZZI – Master of the handmade hand-me-down and late smoker of Craven A.
BARBARA MCLEAN – A cut above.
BRYANT HALIDAY – The demon ventriloquist who made Ingmar Bergman famous in America.
KONRAD FISCHER – Capitalist Realist who made the Minimal market.
MICHAEL BRAUN – His own Titanic, from Polanski to the homeless shelter.
MARTIN KIPPENBERGER – Our alcoholic brawler who perfected the worst pizza in California.
ABE FEDER – From Orson to the Empire State, the one who let there be light.
JAMES LEE BYARS – The Golden One who vanished in Cairo.
SARAH ANN HORSEY KLEIN – Of egg tempera in Vienna & medieval raincoats in Tel Aviv.
ROBERT STANLEY – Brightest and boldest of all the forgotten stars of Pop.
ALFRED BINGHAM – A class act, or how to be thrown out of the Waldorf Astoria.
NORMAN BLUHM – Night flight fighter — in a Chinese cloud of soot.
WINTHROP K. EDEY – Who woke at five each afternoon to tend the world’s rarest clocks.
COUNTESS FELICIA GIZYCKA MAGRUDER – The most kidnapped child in the world who wrote The House of Violence.
PIETRO NARDUCCI – The Prince from the New Jersey Swamps.
BOB CATO – Let’s trash it boys.
PIERRE ANDRÉ-MAY – His only luxury a full-time butler.
SAM SHAW – Or how to take the most famous photograph in the world.
DAVID SEIDNER – Gone the notion of a well-turned ankle.
JULIUS TOBIAS – By night taxi to Lake Lausanne.
ALBERTO GIRONELLA – A Mexican of Montmartre.
SHARI PEACOCK – Being the adventures of an Iranian in Communist Bulgaria or how an Orthodox Saint lived otherwise.
STEPHEN GREENE – A sense of yearning persists.
ROBERT BINGHAM – That thrilling corner of his heart that still wanted to destroy himself.
PAUL CADMUS – An artist with a sordid, depraved imagination.
MARK LOMBARDI – A connoisseur of Parmigiano-Reggiano who considered socks unsophisticated.
JACQUES GUÉRIN – Votre générosité est impardonable.
PETER PINCHBECK – Of autonomous objects & mirrors of the mind.
GIAN LUIGI POLIDORO – To bed or not to bed.
JANICE BIALA – To breathe the wind on her Fire Island beaches.
ZOGDAN PALASHI – The father of it all.
STANI NITKOWSKI – Writing with his blood in the orgasm studio.
ROCKETS REDGLARE – Who makes his gesture to the night on a stolen saxophone.
MICHAEL SONNABEND – Or how to spend a hundred years reading Dante by candlelight.
JACQUES BENS – Definitely Provisional Secretary to the Workshop of Potential Literature.
HENRY COSTON – A surprising revelation concerning a professional anti-Semite.
MICHEL DE SALZMANN – Last of the awakeners of men.
MICHAEL RICHARDS – Of lost navigators always seeking home.
STUART SHERMAN – With matchsticks, handkerchief and twigs of cardboard.
GELLU NAUM – Fictitious Professor of Philosophy at the Academy of Fishermen in Poarta Albâ.
ROLF HOFFMANN – With Warhol on the catwalk.
LANCE LOUD – Or always beware the teenage television boy star.
RAVEN CHANTICLEER – Taking wax to the max.
LARRY RIVERS – Like pressing your face in wet grass.
EDDIE COHEN – The eternal yachter — from Alexandria to Guatemala.
ARNOLD WEINSTEIN – How great failures never die.
JEAN CLAUDE ABREU – On his gentle retreat from all that we might term “action” in general.
TONY SMITH – The man who said “No” to the Krays.
DASH SNOW – Lost icon of glacial decadence.
JAY LANDESMAN – Or how to end up a footnote in history.
ROBERT VELAISE – The last tycoon, a Swiss remix.
COUNT MICHAEL FLORESCU – Simply a bird of passage living off the crumbs of others.
JAMES METCALF – Playboy of Paris turned patriarch of Santa Clara.
DOROTHEA TANNING – I am not even a woman, let alone a Surrealist.
SIMON LANE – An eternally romantic boulevardier with a long trail of laughter and disaster.
JACK-ALAIN LÉGER – Those clouds of heroin, horse power, horse power.
RENE RICARD – Friend of the rich, enemy of the people — this is she.
MICHAEL SPENS – A certain frisson of the clandestine services.
SONIA “SPIDER” QUENNELL – Darling, darling I’ve seen it all before.
ULTRA VIOLET – My name contains the five magical vowels.
BERNARD HEIDSIECK – At the frontier all the same!
ALEXANDER “SANDY” WHITELAW – Champion skier & swordsman who dated Jane Fonda and subtitled Shoah.
ROBIN PAGE – He who invented the destruction of the electric guitar.
TERRY SELLERS – Basic etiquette for the slave.
TIM HUNT – Who smuggled a skeleton onto the Cresta Run and often vanished.
JEF GEYS – Or the true story of an artist who blew up a museum.
CLAUDE LALANNE – A courtier grieves the passing of a sculptural queen.
ADRIAN DANNATT – One who wrote his own final chapter.
NOTES 
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS