As the coronavirus pandemic continues to infects thousands around the globe, many in the art world have recently started to publicly share their own experiences with contracting the virus. Marc Glimcher, the president and CEO of Pace Gallery, penned an essay that chronicled his month with Covid-19. The 86-year-old Arte Povera artist Michelangelo Pistoletto was admitted to a hospital in Italy and later recovered, telling the Cittadellarte journal that he “faced the reality of emptiness” while in quarantine. The filmmaker Éric Baudelaire, who won France’s biggest art prize last year, reported his symptoms on Instagram, offering semi-regular updates on his quest to regain his sense of taste and smell.
The latest art-world figure to openly discuss her bout with the illness is artist Joyce Kozloff, who wrote a Facebook post about the coronavirus that was widely shared last week. Kozloff, who is known for her maximalist assemblages that made her one of the key members of the 1970s’ Pattern & Decoration movement, told ARTnews, “People wrote emails and called me. It was simply that people wanted to hear that someone got sick and then got well. I think people found that reassuring—much more than I expected.”
Kozloff, who is based in New York, said that she was not tested for Covid-19, but her doctor said it seemed possible that she had it. She is not sure when or where she may have contracted it, but one possibility is that Kozloff got it while visiting her husband, the art historian and artist Max Kozloff, while he was in the hospital. “I think I took a lot of risks,” she said.
Her symptoms were mostly mild. “You feel achy, just fatigue and chills,” she said. “I ran a fever—never over 101. I experienced it more as chills than fever.” There were digestive issues, and for the better part of a week, she had difficulty eating. (“Those people crossing the desert, how long did they go?” she wondered to herself at one point.)
But now Kozloff has recovered. “It’s like a miracle when you’re well,” she said, adding that her symptoms sometimes return—she still experiences periods of fatigue. And as part of her recovery, she has resumed her art-making. Last week, as part of the digital art initiative Art at a Time Like This, Kozloff revisited her series “Targets.” In the original version, she had fabricated walk-in sculptures that resemble globes and pinpoint where the United States had dropped bombs between 1945 and 2000. The updated version, made with artist Fran Flaherty, adds computer-generated images of coronavirus particles to pictures of the original “Targets” to show where major outbreaks of the virus have occurred.
An end is not yet in sight to New York’s quarantine, but Kozloff said that she is beginning to yearn for a return to normal. Asked what she misses most, she said, “I can’t stand not seeing other people’s art. That’s what nurtures us. I don’t want to just look at my own art!”