Days before taking his own life at the age of 61, chef, writer, and television star Anthony Bourdain purchased a painting by John Lurie titled The Sky Is Falling, I am Learning to Live With It.
News of Bourdain’s death was reported by the network that employed him for the last five years, CNN, Bourdain was found unresponsive in a hotel room in France by his close friend and fellow chef, Eric Ripert.
Lurie had tweeted a photograph of the painting on May 30, noting that it was “now in the collection of Anthony Bourdain.” The artist responded to news of Bourdain’s death with a series of tweets mourning the television star’s unexpected passing.
“We were just becoming friends,” Lurie wrote. “One of the few people I have been remotely interested in becoming friends with in years. I am supposed to see him on Wednesday.”
Through Bourdain’s various television series focused on the wide variety of cuisines served around the world, a 2016 episode of his current series, Parts Unknown, featured the contemporary art museum Instituto Inhotim. In a piece previewing the episode on CNN, Bourdain praised Brazil’s Minas Gerais region for its beauty and its many delicious restaurants, noting that “the crazy amazing art gallery, Inhotim, spread throughout acres of jungle, is reason alone to visit.”
In the episode, he described it as “one of the most curious and extraordinary places in all of Brazil… a massive Jurassic Park for contemporary art, stuck smack dab in the middle of seemingly nowhere.”
He also interviewed Inhotim founder Bernardo Paz, asking him, “Do you care about your legacy?” Paz said no. “You don’t believe in it?” Bourdain asked. “I don’t either. I don’t believe it at all.”
Despite that sentiment, Bourdain’s legacy is undeniable—as a gifted storyteller who used food and drink to help bridge cultural divides and share universal truths about the human condition.
On that same trip to Brazil, Bourdain and his crew encountered armed car thieves, and Parts Unknown director Mo Fallon shielded his star from potential gunfire. “This kind of behavior, while flattering—and, well, frankly heroic—was above and beyond the call of duty,” Bourdain wrote. “I can—let’s face it—be replaced.”
Today, it’s fair to say that fans of Bourdain’s around the world disagree with that assessment.
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