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Recent Deaths in the Arts

posted by Christopher Howard


In its semimonthly roundup of obituaries, CAA recognizes the lives and achievements of the following artists, scholars, curators, collectors, museum directors, and other men and women whose work has had a significant impact on the visual arts.

  • Karen Aqua, a filmmaker and teacher based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, whose works in animation can be found in her eleven films and in the twenty-two segments she had created for Sesame Street since 1990, died on May 30, 2011. She was 57 years old
  • José Argüelles, an eccentric artist and scholar who, after earning a doctorate in art history, taught aesthetics at universities nationally and wrote about the Mayan calendar in his book The Mayan Factor: Path beyond Technology, passed away on March 23, 2011, at age 72. He is known for organizing the Harmonic Convergence event of 1987
  • Thomas N. Armstrong III, director of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York from 1974 to 1990 and who later led the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, died on June 20, 2011, at the age of 78. Armstrong facilitated the museum’s purchase of Frank Stella’s Die Fahne Hoch!, Jasper John’s Three Flags, and Alexander Calder’s Circus; he is also known for his firing of the curator Marcia Tucker, which prompted her to found the New Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Ariege Arseguel, an independent art consultant and a former executive director of the Sonoma County Museum in California, died on June 5, 2011, at the age of 49. She had also worked for the San Francisco Art Institute, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Terry Ball, an artist who drew architectural reconstructions, including historic depictions of the Tower of London and Windsor Castle, among other locations, died on February 23, 2011. He was 79 years old
  • Luciano Bellosi, an art historian specializing in Italian artists from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries—notably Cimabue, Duccio, Giotto, and Masaccio—died on April 26, 2011, at age 74. He taught medieval art history at the University of Siena from 1979 to 2006
  • Ron Bone, a British painter known for his quiet interior scenes that critics compared to Andrew Wyeth and to seventeenth-century Dutch painting, died on February 26, 2011. He was 60 years old
  • Claudio Bravo, a Chilean-born, largely self-taught artist who established his reputation in the 1960s by painting portraits of elite society in Spain and the Philippines, passed away on June 4, 2011, at age 74. Influenced by Mark Rothko and Antoni Tàpies, Bravo transitioned into trompe l’oeil paintings of drapery and crumpled paper in his later years
  • Thalia Noras Carlos, a philanthropist who contributed millions of dollars worth of Greek and Roman antiquities to the Michael C. Carlos Museum, which bears the name of her late husband, at Emory University in Atlanta, passed away on May 22, 2011. She was 83 years old
  • Leonora Carrington, a British-born Surrealist artist and writer and a muse to Max Ernst, died on May 25, 2011, at the age of 94. Though she traveled and exhibited her work internationally, she settled in Mexico City, where she spent time with her female artistic colleagues, Frida Kahlo and Remedios Varo, and developed her unique, highly praised painting style
  • Ira Cohen, a filmmaker, photographer, poet, publisher, and musician whose greatest work was life itself, died on April 25, 2011, at the age of 76. The New York–based Cohen traveled internationally and had collaborated with William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, and Paul Bowles
  • Stephen De Staebler, a Bay Area–based creator of figurative sculpture in clay and bronze that depicted hauntingly fractured body parts, died on May 13, 2011, at the age of 78. The de Young Museum in San Francisco will host a retrospective of his work, Matter and Spirit, that opens in January 2012
  • Bernhard Heisig, a celebrated and criticized East German painter who addressed themes of suffering in war and under fascism, died on June 10, 2011, at the age of 86. After reunification, Heisig’s work was exhibited across the country and presented in a solo show at Berlin’s Martin Gropius Bau in 2005
  • M. F. Husain, a painter often described as the Picasso of India, died on June 9, 2011, at the age of 95. After starting his career as a Bollywood poster and billboard artist, Husain shifted into a style of painting inspired by Hindu temple art and Cubism, and his controversial depictions of deities and politically charged nude women sent him into self-exile
  • Denis Mahon, a historian and collector of art who contributed his significant collection of Italian Baroque paintings to several British institutions, died on April 24, 2011, at age 100. His book Studies in Seicento Art and Theory, published in 1947, is a leading text on the subject; he also wrote extensively about Caravaggio and Nicolas Poussin
  • Adolfas Mekas, a filmmaker associated with New American Cinema and the founder, with his brother Jonas, of Film Culture, a journal that advanced avant-garde film, died on May 31, 2011, at age 85. Mekas was also a founding member of the film department at Bard College, directing the program from 1971 to 1994 and teaching there until 2004
  • Robert Miller, an art dealer whose eponymous New York gallery represents many blue-chip artists and their estates, including Ai Weiwei, Diane Arbus, Lee Krasner, and Alice Neel, died on June 22, 2011. He was 72 years old
  • Andrew Morgan, an artist and a professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Miami from 1970 to 1987, died on March 18, 2011, at age 88. He was known for paintings and drawings of the Florida landscape and the Everglades
  • Mordechai Omer, director and chief curator of the Tel Aviv Museum for the last seventeen years, passed away in June 2011 at the age of 70. He was also a professor at Tel Aviv University and worked to cultivate the Israeli art scene by supporting both young and established artists
  • David E. Rust, a curator who worked at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, for many years until his retirement in 1984, died on April 8, 2011, at the age of 81. A specialist in French painting, Rust also studied Spanish and Italian art
  • John S. Slorp, president of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design from 1990 to 2002 and an accreditor for the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, passed away on May 21, 2011, at the age of 74. Previous to his stint in Minnesota, Slorp was president of the Memphis College of Art for eight years
  • Jack Smith, one of four artists known as the Beaux Arts quartet—or the Kitchen Sink artists, after an article by the critic David Sylvester—who came to prominence in England in the 1950s with abstract paintings that channeled Social Realism, died on June 11, 2011. He was 82
  • Cy Twombly, an influential and revered postwar abstract painter whom the critic Robert Hughes elevated to an artistic pantheon that included Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, died on July 5, 2011. He was 83 years old
  • Osamu Ueda, an Osaka-born curator at the Art Institute of Chicago who catalogued the museum’s collection of Japanese woodblock prints in the Claire E. Buckingham Collection, died on January 30, 2011, at age 83. Ueda was the coeditor of an important museum book, The Actor’s Image: Print Makers of the Katsukawa School, published in 1994
  • Polly Ullrich, a Chicago-based journalist who wrote for United Press International, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Chicago Sun Times, and the New York Times before she turned to ceramics, which she created and exhibited across the United States, passed away on July 6, 2011, at age 60. Ullrich also lectured across the Midwest and taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she earned an MA in art history, theory, and criticism in 1994

Read all past obituaries in the arts in CAA News, which include special texts written for CAA. Please send links to published obituaries to Christopher Howard, CAA managing editor, for the August listing.



Filed under: Obituaries, People in the News

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