Artists We Lost in 2018, in Their Words

Artists We Lost in 2018, in Their Words

Artists who died in 2018 included, clockwise from top left, Ntozake Shange, Arthur Mitchell, Dolores O’Riordan, Robert Indiana, Montserrat Caballé and Stan Lee. Clockwise from top left: Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times; Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times; Rob Verhorst/Redferns, via Getty Images; Jack Mitchell/Getty Images; Agence France-Presse — Getty Images; Ryan Pfluger for The New York Times

Many of the artists who died this year made us laugh and cry and look at the world in new, myriad ways. Here is a tribute to some of the most notable of them, in their own words.

Aretha Franklin

“If a song’s about something I’ve experienced or that could’ve happened to me, it’s good. But if it’s alien to me, I couldn’t lend anything to it. Because that’s what soul is about — just living and having to get along.”

— Aretha Franklin

Singer, born 1942 (Read the obituary.)

Philip Roth

“The epithet American-Jewish writer has no meaning for me. If I’m not an American, I’m nothing.”

— Philip Roth

Author, born 1933 (Read the obituary.)

Stephen Hawking

“When you are faced with the possibility of an early death, it makes you realize that life is worth living and that there are a lot of things you want to do.”

— Stephen Hawking

Physicist and author, born 1942 (Read the obituary.)

Neil Simon, center

“Everyone thinks they can write a play; you just write down what happened to you. But the art of it is drawing from all the moments of your life.”

— Neil Simon

Playwright, born 1927 (Read the obituary.)

Burt Reynolds

“There are three ways to make it in Hollywood. You can become an ‘actor’ — a guy with things standing out in his neck — or you can become a personality, or you can become a star. I always wanted to be all three.”

— Burt Reynolds

Actor, born 1936 (Read the obituary.)

Robert Indiana

“Some people like to paint trees. I like to paint love. I find it more meaningful than painting trees.”

— Robert Indiana

Artist, born 1928 (Read the obituary.)

Paul Taylor

“I get my energy, I think, from being afraid to choreograph, being afraid to fail.”

— Paul Taylor

Choreographer, born 1930 (Read the obituary.)

Stan Lee

“I wanted the reader to feel we were all friends, that we were sharing some private fun that the outside world wasn’t aware of.”

— Stan Lee

Author and publisher, born 1922 (Read the obituary.)

Ricky Jay

“I think surprise is a wonderful emotion.”

— Ricky Jay

Magician, actor and author, born 1946 (Read the obituary.)

Dolores O’Riordan

Unhappiness where’s when I was young And we didn’t give a damn ’Cause we were raised To see life as fun and take it if we can

— Dolores O’Riordan, “Ode to My Family,” the Cranberries, 1994

Musician, born 1971 (Read the obituary.)

Anthony Bourdain

“The kitchen at best is like a submarine or pirate group. It’s very high pressure, and a sense of humor is absolutely necessary.”

— Anthony Bourdain

Chef and journalist, born 1956 (Read the obituary.)

Margot Kidder

“Acting’s fun, but life’s more important.”

— Margot Kidder

Actress, born 1948 (Read the obituary.)

Phyllis Kind

“I recognized what I always look for in a true artist’s work, which is quality of technique, of ideas — and a unique, personal vocabulary of form.”

— Phyllis Kind

Art dealer, born 1933 (Read the obituary.)

Roy Hargrove

“It never came to mind: ‘Maybe I’m not good enough.’ I never thought like that. I always thought, ‘Yes, I am good enough,’ or ‘I can be good enough.’”

— Roy Hargrove

Musician, born 1969 (Read the obituary.)

Mac Miller

“The more you create, the more you realize that it’s about more than just making good songs.”

— Mac Miller

Rapper, born 1992 (Read the obituary.)

Cecil Taylor

“What I am doing is creating a language. A different American language.”

— Cecil Taylor

Musician, born 1929 (Read the obituary.)

Robert Venturi

“Less is a bore.”

— Robert Venturi

Architect, born 1925 (Read the obituary.)

Milos Forman

“When I thought of making a film in any country but mine, I found I could only do it in the United States. In any other country you are always a foreigner. Here, after one week you are an American.”

— Milos Forman

Director, born 1932 (Read the obituary.)

Oliver Knussen

“I was immersed in music from the beginning, and it never occurred to me that not everybody thought it was the most important thing in life.”

— Oliver Knussen

Composer, born 1952 (Read the obituary.)

Steven Bochco

“Casting is sort of like looking at paintings. You don’t know what you’ll like, but you recognize it when you see it.”

— Steven Bochco

Producer, born 1943 (Read the obituary.)

V.S. Naipaul

“I thought nonfiction gave one a chance to explore the world, the other world, the world one didn’t know fully.”

— V.S. Naipaul

Author, born 1932 (Read the obituary.)

Montserrat Caballé

“Music is part of life. It is not the real life. I belong to that first: family, children. The important things.”

— Montserrat Caballé

Singer, born 1933 (Read the obituary.)

Marin Mazzie

“Singing, to me, is such a healing thing. It’s just part of my body; it’s part of what I do.”

— Marin Mazzie

Actress, born 1960 (Read the obituary.)

Arthur Mitchell

“The myth was that because you were black that you could not do classical dance. I proved that to be wrong.”

— Arthur Mitchell

Dancer, born 1934 (Read the obituary.)

Robert Morris

“Simplicity of shape does not necessarily equate with simplicity of experience.”

— Robert Morris

Artist, born 1931 (Read the obituary.)

Jan Maxwell

“Theater saves people’s lives, and it’s wonderful.”

— Jan Maxwell

Actress, born 1956 (Read the obituary.)

William Goldman

“Screenplays are structure. That’s all they are. They are not art, they are carpentry.”

— William Goldman

Screenwriter, born 1931 (Read the obituary.)

María Irene Fornés

“There are two of you — one who wants to write and one who doesn’t. The one who wants to write better keep tricking the one who doesn’t.”

— María Irene Fornés

Playwright, born 1930 (Read the obituary.)

Pete Shelley

“Part of the punk experience, for me, was that you could play to your strengths and make your weaknesses virtues.”

— Pete Shelley

Musician, born 1955 (Read the obituary.)

Ntozake Shange

“I’m a firm believer that language and how we use language determines how we act, and how we act then determines our lives and other people’s lives.”

— Ntozake Shange

Playwright, born 1948 (Read the obituary.)

Ursula K. Le Guin

“Don’t shove me into your damn pigeonhole, where I don’t fit, because I’m all over. My tentacles are coming out of the pigeonhole in all directions.”

— Ursula K. Le Guin

Author, born 1929 (Read the obituary.)

John Mahoney

“I don’t have a scrap more talent than so many actors in Chicago. I just happened to be blessed by being lucky.”

— John Mahoney

Actor, born 1940 (Read the obituary.)

Penny Marshall

“I’m a director. I’m a woman. But to classify man-directors, woman-directors — can’t we just say director?”

— Penny Marshall

Actress and director, born 1943 (Read the obituary.)

Claude Lanzmann

“Even if I lived a hundred lives, I still wouldn’t be exhausted.”

— Claude Lanzmann

Director and author, born 1925 (Read the obituary.)

Tom Wolfe

“I found early in the game that for me there’s no use trying to blend in.”

— Tom Wolfe

Author, born 1930 (Read the obituary.)

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