Rest in Peace, Michael Asher.
Michael Asher once said to me “John, maybe you can answer a question I’ve always had…” God knows I would have liked to have answered a question Michael Asher always had. Looking at some goofball painting of mine, he asked me what it “meant” when you could see the sides of letters in block lettering. I was like “Uh, I guess it means they’re meant to be like blocks in a three dimensional space even though letters are usually flat?” or something like that. This answer was entirely inadequate. Because that’s not what it “meant”, that’s just what it was doing, I guess. I don’t know. I never figured out what it meant. I was tempted to think he was just taking the piss, but in fact he seemed genuinely disappointed that I couldn’t help him crack the code. There was always some part of me that wanted to figure out what block lettering truly meant and somehow run to Michael with the theorem in my hand shouting “Michael! I got it!”
Nobody could make you feel like a Grade A Genius when he agreed with you and an Ignorant Turd when you came up short like Michael Asher. Still, his patience and curiosity were also part of an incredible generosity toward his students and toward art discourse in general. Such an amazing teacher. Rest In Peace.