It had been our plan to put news on our website today of the new exhibition of work by Edith Schloss and her life-long friend Alvin Curran, which opens tomorrow 21 December. Instead we are bringing the sad news of her death at home today, 20 December. Her death was unexpected and sudden and came at a moment when she was looking forward to her exhibition with Alvin, of her watercolours over his musical scores, some of her most beautiful and lyrical work ever.
Edith and Silvia Stucky had hung the exhibition last week and it was in fact Silvia who found Edith on Tuesday morning when she went to exchange one watercolour for another to put in the exhibition. Edith would most certainly have wished to go while she was working, thinking about an exhibition and planning what she was going to do next. She would have hated a long and incapacitating decline and a loss of independence and all of us who knew and loved and worked with her would have hated to see her suffer in that way.
Her last few weeks after her return in September from Pietrasanta –where she went every summer to paint – were marked by a bad fall from which she made a recovery in record time. She then started work on the final details of the exhibition, the careful selection of the image for the invitation, meticulous writing of the introduction to the catalogue – a magnificent summing up of her life's work and all in it that was important to her – and the selection of her poetry that she would read at the opening. In other words as much as a young person in good health would achieve and quite remarkable at 92.
Our last conversation was about the selection of the cover for Wanted in Rome to tie in with the exhibition and then, as though she had completed all she needed to do for the show, she said that she was going to finish off her next article for the magazine, something she had been promising us since the summer – an obituary of her dear friend and colleague Cy Twombly. "I've written too much already," she said "and it's on scraps of paper all over my desk. Now I've got to pull it all together and then I’ll leave the cutting to you."
Edith always liked to write long and leave me to do the cutting. “I knew you would cut that,” she often said when I went through her pieces with her before publication. “Then why did you leave it in?” I would say. “Because I wanted to see what you would do,” she would reply with a twinkle.
Edith's exhibition, "The Painted Song", opens on 21 December at La Casa delle Letterature, Piazza dell'Orologio 3, just around the corner from where she lived throughout most of her time in Rome. 18.30.