Eulogy From An Artist

In Peter Marzio’s office, there was only a desk and a chair. Not one sheet of paper, a book, or even a telephone was in sight. After 28 years as the director of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, he made it all seem so effortless.

Within five minutes of discussing the Odyssey project with Peter, he made a decision, “We have to do this.”

When Peter walked in after Odyssey was installed, the first thing he said was simply, “Holy shit.” As he walked up to the pine trees in the drawing, tears welled in his eyes. He told Christine Starkman, the curator of Asian Art, that the antique works placed in the gallery hereafter must be first rate, or they will be overpowered by this work.

Artists are lonely by nature. A museum director like Peter can remind an artist that he is not alone in the history of a millennium, and that he’s done well!

I respectfully give this small sketch used in the creation of Odyssey to Peter as a memento of the journey we embarked on together, and to bid him a final farewell. As long as we remember him, he will always be with us.

Cai Guo-Qiang.

Sketch for Odyssey No. 4, 2010. Pencil on paper. 11 x 81 inches.

Peter Cort Marzio, 1943-2010

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