Dash Snow died at the age of 28

Dash Snow: Selfportrait, poster of 'A Community Memorial' show at Deitch Projects, NYC courtesy of Deitch Projetcs

Dash Snow died on 13 July 2009 form a drug overdose in New York City. He was found dead in a $ 400 a night hotel room at the Lafayette House in East Village. Besides an empty bottle of rum, an empty beer can and three empty syringes of heroin he was alone. He was found by Jane Berrau, his girlfriend and mother of his small daughter. For 1 1/2 hours all attempts to get him back to life had failed.

 

Dash Snow was a celebrity within the New York art and party scene. He looked and behaved like somebody who came directly from a time warp of the 1970s. He did not even own a mobile phone. For his followers he was an ingenious artist, for his critics he was just a reckless junkie.

 

In contrary to this media view art dealer Javier Peres told me 'the guy never sought celebrity of any kind, nor was he even really fully aware that he was perceived as such, so I don' t feel that this is an issue that will continue to surface too much longer, at least I hope it doesn't.'

 

Life is not easy being from a rich family: He was born into the de Menil family. His grandmother, Christophe de Menil, is a heiress of the huge Schlumberger oil fortune.  She is a well-known art  collector and philanthropist in Manhatten

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. His aunt was Hollywood actress Uma Thurman. The family runs its own museum, the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. News say there were long-lasting frictions between his grandmother and his mother Agathe Snow, who is an artist too.   Kathy Grayson is the gallery director at Deitch Projects who handled Dash's affairs there. She told me about him: 'Dash was a secretive guy and he was to polite and noble  to spread the true story about his upbringing or his sad family situation.' Whatever the deeper reason for his drug addiction was, unfortunately drugs were a driving force for his life.      
(c) Dash Snow: 'TBT' 2008, Photograph - Digital C Print, 25 x 37 inches (63.5 x 94 cm) Edition of 3 + 2AP courtesy of Peres Projects

Many say Dash Snow's life was exactly like his art: Excessive and provocative.  But Javier Peres also objects to this view: 'Dash's work was never about confrontation, in fact, he hated confrontations and was always quick to say - don't be bitter, be better!'  Most people who really worked with him describe him as shy and calm - when not driven by his drug daemons.

 

 

He often took Polaroid snapshots of his colleagues and his bohemian world: Doing drugs, posing provocatively, and so on. His critics say he took up this habit to recall all the things that happened the night before. Others say he followed the tradition of Burroughs and Goldin.

 

(c) Dash Snow: 'Untitled' (Troubled/Sleep), 2007, Collage

Art history will show how we will remember Dash Snow in a few decades from now. Even Christopher Wool traded a collage with him. In general Christopher doesn't do this with weak artists.

 

Kathy Greyson thinks that 'people will always respond to expressions of freedom, love and the sincerity of Dash's work and the uniqueness of his vision.'

 

In any case, the 'Basquiat mechanism' of art marketing did start already: Soon after his death there were Dash Snow shows  in New York, Berlin and Los Angeles. The legends around his life will grow as fast as the prices of his works are likely to increase.

 

(c) Dash Snow: Untitled (How much talent does it really take to come on the New York Post, anyway?), 2007, installation view of 'A Community Memorial' show at Deitch Projects, NYC courtesy Deitch Projects

A noble exception was the memorial exhibition organized by Ms. Grayson at Deitch Projects on Grand Street, NYC: She made an open call to all friends and relatives of Dash to bring bits of pieces in connection with him.

 

It became a very touching show:  His grandmother showed up and  brought a pile of Polaroids. His girlfriend brought a work devoted to their daughter Secret. It had these words written on it:

 

'I love you / We are family / We belong together.'

 

We love you too, Dash, rest in peace and party on in heaven!

 

by

 

U.G.L.

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