Mr. Adkins's genre-blurring pieces had lately made him "a newly
minted breakaway star" on the international art scene.
Terry Adkins, a conceptual artist whose work married the
quicksilver evanescence of music to the solid permanence of
sculpture, died on Feb. 8 at his home in Brooklyn. He was 60.
The cause was heart failure, his dealer Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn
A sculptor and saxophonist, Mr. Adkins was at his death a
professor of fine arts at the University of Pennsylvania School of
Design. His genre-blurring pieces, which might combine visual art,
spoken-word performance, video and live music in a single
installation, had lately made him "a newly minted breakaway star" on
the international art scene, as The New York Times described him in
Mr. Adkins's work -- cerebral yet viscerally evocative,
unabashedly Modernist yet demonstrably rooted in African traditions -
- has been exhibited at museums and galleries worldwide, including
the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
His art is in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and
Sculpture Garden, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington;
the Studio Museum in Harlem; the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the
Museum of Modern Art in New York; and the Tate Modern in London.
His work will be shown this year as part of the Whitney Biennial,
which runs from March 7 to May 25 at the museum.
"Terry always saw object and sound and movement and words and
images all as the material for his art," Thelma Golden, the director
and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, said in an
interview on Friday. "He was so deeply inspired by aesthetics,
philosophy, spirituality, music, history and culture, and he had
such a fertile and generative mind, that he was always able to move
between many different ideas and create a lot of space and meaning
in a work."
To his sculpture, Mr. Adkins sought to bring the fleeting
impermanence of music, creating haunting assemblages of found
objects -- wood, cloth, coat hangers, spare parts from junkyards --
that evoked vanished histories.
To his improvisational, jazz-inflected music, he brought the
muscular physicality of sculpture, forging immense, curious
instruments from assorted materials. Many were playable, including a
set of 18-foot horns he called arkaphones.
The sculpture and the music were meant to be experienced in
tandem, and with his band, the Lone Wolf Recital Corps, Mr. Adkins
staged multimedia performance pieces that fused the visual and the
aural. Many were homages to pathbreaking figures in African-
American history, among them the abolitionist John Brown, the Rev. …